DER Documentary

A Darker Side of Fair

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by Deepak Leslie
color, 25 min, 2004





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Shedding new light upon issues of global diversity, this documentary focuses on the extent to which a "fairness fetish" has permeated various levels of Indian society. Today in India fairness is a benchmark for beauty; marriages are decided on the basis of skin color; and fair means "lucky" whereas dark means "ugly". Fair skin as an ideal exists in all facets of Indian life: fashion, marriage, advertising etc. Although historically women have been burdened with the need to conform to the societal perception of the "light-skinned beauty", increasingly today even young Indian men feel the need to opt for products and processes to enhance their skin tone. While the origins of the fair-skinned ideal can be traced back to the ancient Indian epics of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, today Western influences and media pressure have resulted in a growing market for fairness products and skin lightening treatments. Fairness is a serious business in India, one with intensely psychological ramifications. With a focus on the emotional and psychological impact, this film addresses the historical and contemporary factors that contribute to the pressures thrust upon Indian women by a society obsessed with fair skin.


Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Memphis International Film Festival, 2004
Association for Asian Studies Annual Meeting, 2005
Northeastern Anthropological Association Ethnographic Film & Video Festival, Lake Placid, NY, 2005
Heard Museum Film Festival, Arizona, 2005
American Psychological Association Annual Convention, Washington DC, 2005
10th Mostra Internacional do Filme Etnografico, Brazil, 2005

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