Dark — a word that brings a tingle to the spine, especially in those countries where the blight of colorism exists.Colorism is a global form of discrimination, an attitude that prefers lighter skin tones to darker ones, and considers those with naturally darker skin less desirable.
Well, every person has a story to share. We are the protagonists of our lives. The hero or heroine dealing with circumstances, unwanted situations and realities of this world. Whether you agree or not, but we are living in a world where women are unfortunately judged by the clothes they wear, the structure of their bodies and most importantly by the colour of their skin.
Fatima Lodhi (FL) was born in Karachi,Now pursuing Masters in Philosophy. She joined the world of activism back in 2009 and for more than five years,She has been advocating for the rights of women with disabilities. She is also an “Anti-colorism & Diversity Advocate”. Luckily, the first Pakistani and the youngest Asian who has taken this bold stand and has challenged the unrealistic standards of beauty that have been set by the society and propagated by the media.
As Pakistan’s first anti-colorism advocate and founder of “Dark is Divine”, the first anti-colorism campaign from Pakistan,She has been boldly championing the “Dark” color and have also been to different places with the message of celebrating diversity.
Why She Started ‘Dark Is Divine’ To Fight Against ‘Colourism’ And Beauty Perceptions In Asia.
Being a dark-skinned myself, it didn’t take long for me to fall victim to my own skin colour. Everything was normal till the day I started school to witness the first ugliest reality: discrimination on the basis of complexion. In my art class, my teacher asked me to use peach crayon, calling it a skin colour crayon, and not any darker shades like brown or black to colour the face I drew, while I chose dark brown colour.
As time passed, I began to realise that despite all my capabilities, I was always judged on the basis of my skin colour by those around me. I had no friends because nobody wanted to play or be seen with me. I never got a chance to become a fairy in my school plays because fairies are supposed to be fair skinned!
Like many other dark girls in my school, I suffered and faced a lot of criticism by my school fellows with terms like ‘ugly duckling, blackie’ and even different songs were sung just to mock at me.
I also remember once being nominated in my high school awards ceremony for the category called “Makeover Required” and the way my school fellows started clapping and hooting when my name was announced was not actually humorous but hurting.
As I entered teenage life, aunties and those older to me would recommend fairness creams. Beauty creams aside, I was told about all the possible desi remedies to turn myself into a white girl with the fear of ‘who will marry you?’, ‘how will you get a good job?’, ‘one needs to look presentable to move in the society’. Oh yes, being presentable in my society was linked with being fair skinned.
These incidents had a huge psychological impact on me and made a dent on my self-esteem. But then I finally decided to join the world of activism to overcome my fears and with the passage of time I became an active social worker trying to bolster up women in the country.
But soon I realised that I was living in a fool’s paradise because, despite of all my efforts and achievements in the world of activism, the skin colour stratification would not leave me and still, I was being mocked with statements like“Oh let’s paint her white!”
This is how Dark Is Divine came into being. The first anti-colorism campaign from Pakistan, working globally through local action.
A campaign that aims to transform Asia, Africa and other such regions (where the germs of colorism exists) into a region where dark skin colour is embraced, to the point where the skin colour, body shape and body size of a woman ultimately has no importance.
We speak against racism, rape, gender inequality, but we keep ignoring the most ingrained issues, we never stop comparing one woman from another on the basis of her looks and these biases curtail us from moving forward in life. We speak of religious equality and human rights and the first right is respect each other for who we are and not how we look.
She also started conducting sessions at different schools and universities which have generated awareness regarding colour stratification, and also got a chance to deliver sessions on confidence building and suicide prevention to about 200,000 students from Tamil Nadu, India, recently; however what she has started is just the tip of the ice-berg. Everyone from this new generation needs to take a stand against society’s unpractical standards of beauty.
She is also a motivational speaker who has gotten the privilege to become a TEDx speaker, thrice, including TEDx Sialkot, TEDxLUMS and TEDx University Of Gujrat and was also recently invited to speak at a TEDx event in Delhi, India. She was awarded “Young Rising Woman Leader” award in 2015.
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