Pakistani media, like most media worldwide, lags behind when it comes to promoting beauty in its truest, natural form. We tend to reinforce the perception that beauty is only skin deep. This aspect is pretty much evident when you see how stereotypical attitudes of ‘fair is beautiful’ are beamed in ads, TV shows, and movies alike. The effects of portraying these stereotypical beauty standards in Pakistan can be seen and heard in every desi household. No wonder gora complex is a thing.
How bad are these beauty ads and what effect does it have on most women (even men) in Pakistani society? But more importantly, how can one find self-love regardless of these existing connotations?
The good news is, keep reading!
‘2 minute main hogayi main gori-gori’ (I got a fairer complexion in 2 minutes)
Did you know that 56 out of 59 fairness cream brands available in Pakistani stores were found toxic, according to a research study done in 2019?
Mr. Zartaj Gul, Minister for Climate Change, said,
“The creams you sell for ten rupees, you play with our skins through these creams.”
Beauty creams are one of the leading causes of mercury poisoning and cancer, but the same is promoted through ads, shows, movies, and even Snapchat filters.
If that wasn’t enough, your phuppo ki beti ki dost ki ami ki khala ki chaachi (some random woman) is concerned about who would want to marry you if, god-forbid, you have a dark skin tone.
Went to pharmacy and the pharmacist asked me to use Glutathione tablets.
Every beauty shop i went,they asked me to use "skin whitening" products.
Desi aunty i met told me totkay to get "fair skin".
It's tan on ur brain which makes u this stupid otherwise my complexion is fine.
— Biya Ali Zaib. (@BiyaAli9) October 5, 2019
Why do desi aunties think that just because you've got a face mask on, you're trying to be gori?
Like no dear aunty, unlike the tv commercials that will have you believe, I'm perfectly fine with my complexion. It's called taking care of my skin, not tryna whiten it.
— ‹ t › (@fittaymun_beta) August 3, 2018
Also, what’s up with models with a fair complexion (and dark makeup) representing dark-skinned girls?
All size representation is a rare find in Pakistani media, and the consequence of that can be seen in
people with eating disorders, and harmless (read: brutal) body shaming. We seem to think thin is in, and everybody else is out.
With the inclusiveness of “size zero” models and actors; it’s no wonder why the promotion of dietary supplements for weight loss are so common. Young children, more than anything, are schooled into thinking that they should focus more into huge amounts of weight loss rather than their fitness and health.
Let’s take a look at this desi plus-size model, who looks equally (if not more) beautiful in her photoshoot:
There’s Faiza Saleem too:
Editing and Filtering
The idea of editing and filtering photos, to look more appealing, is not limited to girls.
All jokes aside, nobody should feel the need to hide their real beauty. These digital filters might give us illusory peace; but the fact of the matter is that the real struggle begins when the filter is off, and the makeup is washed off.
Ask yourself this – do you love yourself the same way when your hair is undone and you’re getting ready for bed? Or do you find yourself comparing your looks with the stereotypical beauty standards that the media constantly bombards you with?
Mujhay gori larki chahye hai! (I want a fair-skinned girl)
We’d love to believe that desi women are beyond the whole concept of looking for a skinny, fair, and
lovely girl for their son/brother. But that is yet to change! It’s no secret that most of the marriages turn into a beauty contest among desi families.
Comments like “iski bahu kitni kaali hai,” (her daughter-in-law is so dark) and “XYZ could have found a better-looking girl to marry” are passed around frequently.
Agree. It all started with the trend Gori larki dhoondni hai Shadi k liye. And bahir Mat Jana Kalay hojaogay. They need to be reminded that first person to give Azan was Hazrat Bilal RA who was dark skin in color. Also known as Bilal al ‘Habashi’.
— Ahsan Warsi (@ahsanwarsi) April 29, 2018
People will say no to racism but shadi gori larki se hi karni hai.
— Zargham (@le_terrorist) May 28, 2016
In Pakistan "kala rang" is equivalent to a curse to girls. From childhood they get to listen abuses from everyone for being "kali" and "sanwali". She faces rejection in proposals,no one falls for them. All their life they try the hardest to make their complexion fair.
— Biya Ali Zaib. (@BiyaAli9) December 14, 2018
Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder
The beholder, in this case, is YOU; The person who has been so obsessed with stereotypical beauty standards, that they’ve forgotten how to love themselves.
So is it all dire and hopeless? Can you love yourself the way you are? The good news is, its achievable. Change begins with a few basic things.
Here are a few things you can do to begin your journey towards self-love:
- Focus on your positive features. You’re beautiful from the inside out!
- Remember to never judge a book by its cover. Focus on building your personality for the better.
- Beauty standards will keep changing; so focus on your career and relationships.
- Pay no heed to the ones that bring you down over your appearance. Life has a lot more to offer! As Pink Floyd said, “Don’t help them to bury the light.”
- Meditating can help you feel more connected to your body, mind, and soul!
- Take care of yourself; exercise, eat healthily and drink lots of water!
- People will forget what you looked like; create memories instead of Snapchat stories!
- DO WHATEVER MAKES YOU HAPPY!
Do you think Pakistani models and actors represent you? Or do you think the portrayal of stereotypical beauty standards in Pakistan should stop? Let us know!