“Dark Is Beautiful” Poetry Contest

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Vasantha Surya and I are co-judging a poetry contest for the “Dark is Beautiful” campaign, jointly helmed by Women of Worth and the British Council, Chennai.

The competition is open to anyone living in India (of any nationality), regardless of gender, aged 18 and above.

Deadline for submissions is February 28 2009.

Detailed instructions for submissions can be found on the web site, www.darkisbeautiful.in, and may also be picked up at the British Council, Chennai. Select entries will be displayed at the British Council library and prizes awarded there on March 7.

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20 responses »

  1. Dark is Beautiful

    We’re a family of fair people.
    Fair is the color of high caste; privilege; respect.
    My middle sister is the dark sheep.
    My dad used to put a drop of water on her arm, take the color
    And make an imaginary dark dot on his forehead.
    Huge joke!
    When they came to see my eldest sister for marriage
    They spoke incessantly of the “right shade”—
    They had four fair sons, you see.
    They bred fair with fair, and got fair kids.
    The march continues.
    I am fair too—everybody admires my glowing skin.
    Dark colors look great on me.
    As a teenager, I stood out amongst my peers.
    Maybe that’s why strange hands always touched—
    My breasts, buttocks, between my legs.
    Obscenely, obtrusively, ubiquitously.
    In the bus, on the street, in the exhibition.
    Fair is fascinating.
    Fair is beautiful.

  2. Priya — Unless you emailed your submission in before the deadline, I cannot consider it for the competition. Commenting on my blog is not a valid form of submission.

  3. What a great campaign idea! I know so many beautiful, dark Indian women who never realized their beauty until they went abroad (where they were exoticised for their dark brown beauty). Every other moisturizer and anti-blemish pack promises the additional bonus of making you fair, and recently I was chided on my wedding day for not picking out a lighter coloured foundation!! It’s kind of crazy.

  4. Hi, your “dark is beautiful” contest is a very good idea. many people outside south asia consider indian woman as ” dark, excotic and beautiful. I’m adopted from India. i’ve been living for 15 years in Belgium and the people here thinks my skin is beautiful. many europeans and white americans lie for days in the sun at summer to tan.

  5. Dark is beautiful.
    Indians are of mixed complexion.Indians are of- all sort of heights and figures,not like britishers only fair and good height.So,why don’t we Indians accept gracefully,heartly,lovingly and admiringly the people who are dark in our families.Does there beautiful figures are overshadowed by there dark complexion.There love,dedication ,intelligence,sincerity towards relationship and kindness all has to be measured by darkness.Giving them in return insults ,tears and heartbreaking comments. why?We should open our eyes and see that dark people are more understanding ,trustworthy and more loyal towards comittment as they ‘Beautiful’ from both heart and body.

  6. What’s wrong with Priya Thiagarajan? I thought your site was there to encourage dark people to feel beautiful?

  7. the poetry doesn’t stand anywhere in justifying the title or the idea of the campaign. i don’t know what is priya trying to convey. For your information, people who are perverts, do all those, (what you have mentioned in your poem), on all kinds of women, dark or fair, thin or fat, young or old, why women, children too arent spared? It seems you live in your own “FAIR” world…but i dont think your poem has anything to do with the campaign..its just against it ..i guess…

  8. Hey, you sent me an e-mail and you said I’m not supporting your campaign. But that’s not My poem. I do really support your campaign. I’m dark-skinned to and I’m encouraging all kinds of women to feel beautiful as they are

  9. Hi Linda – I think the email you received must have contained Sneha’s comment (it was not from me). You must have signed up to be notified of follow-up comments to this post.

    Yes, Priya Thiagarajan’s poem is full of horrible prejudice and plain stupidity. Naturally, it did not win the contest (and if I remember correctly, nor did she have the complete idiocy to actually submit it properly). I hope no one is offended that it was moderated through.

  10. Priya Thiagarajan is an idiot. So called high caste people are dark skinned too. All the crap about so called high castes being fair is missionary propoganda.

  11. you’re right, Prahalad, I think it’s because of the bollywood movies. they show fair-skinned and most of the time rich people. That makes people think fair is more beautiful. I have to say I’m a dark-skinned girl. (and I’m proud of it) I’m born in India, but I’m adopted and now I live in Belgium. It’s strange, in a country where most people are dark-skinned, like india, they want to be fair,.
    And in Belgium, where most people are white, they want to tan.

  12. Lynntalent I agree that in western countries they want to be dark, but they don’t discriminate people who are not dark enough in the west.

    On the other hand in Asia and in particular India they openly discriminate against people who are not fair enough. Unfortunatly alot of NRI’s also have this obsession.

    I also blame bollywood for whitening actors and also the “fair and lovely” commercials, which is why I refuse to watch any Indian movie or TV program.

    Unfortunatly I’m considered fair skinned as I grew up in London. My wife is dark, exotic and beautiful as she’s Tamil.

  13. Oh, yeah it’s true they don’t really discriminate people. I didn’t know you’re a man actually. So I’m very happy that some asian men don’t agree with the fair and lovely ideal.

  14. Priya Thiagarajan, I understand your message of despair as you hold up the hypocrisy of color discrimination to scrutiny by your peers. For reasons that escape me, each of the readers of your poem failed to understand that you were showing the sham of fair-skinned appreciation as an excuse by Asian/Indian men to force their attentions onto you in the guise of praise.
    To me, your pain was clearly evident in the stunning words of your poem.

  15. Dear Lindera, thank you for understanding the purport of my poem. You seem to be the only one in this forum. Looks like irony is not an easy thing to detect–seeing as I do that everybody else missed the point of the poem completely. Ah well.

  16. Hi, I’m sorry that I judged too fast. It’s troo, me too, I don’t easely understand irony.

  17. Lynntalent, I guess the poem perhaps missed the point of the theme. :-) Someone pointed out to me that the theme was a celebration of dark, whereas I satirized the obsession with fair. And perhaps that’s why people found it incongruent. Shalini and Prahalad, I am not that much of an idiot that you guys think I am. :-D

  18. this poetry is amazing i use to feel very insecure about my color but reading this really enlights me people at my school are very judgemental but i refuse to let them get the best of me . thank you girls for understanding and letting me know im not the only one going through something like this years from now i hope to love my color and enjoy being me and i write poetry myself :D .

    Again thank you , Sincerely
    Alicia Anttonette Jack .

  19. @ Alicia: I am happy that this poem touched you. All the very best for your future plans. Please do share your poetry when you write them. :-) Priya

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