30 March 2011

Indian supermodels have spoken out about the prejudice and racism against darker-skinned women in their country’s own fashion industry with claims that some are losing out on the top jobs as designers are choosing lighter-skinned models to walk the catwalks.
Dipannita Sharma, a model and actress [above], recently told the Telegraph that it will take some time before the perception that fair skin is more aesthetically pleasing will diminish. 'It's not just the fashion industry, India per se is obsessed with white skin. We will take another hundred years to completely get over it. The industry doesn't openly agree that preferring foreign models over Indian models just for the skin tone is racism. It has some kind of fairness obsession,' she said.
In India there is a huge market for skin lightening products such as Fair and Lovely, and even Elle India recently caused controversy when it was accused of digitally lightening the skin of the magazine's December 2010 cover star, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.
Meanwhile some argue that skin colour is not the issue at all and that local women are in fact too curvy to model in an industry obsessed with size; 'The girls are not tall enough and have varying body shapes' said runway choreographer Tanya Lefebvre.

Model Carol Gracias has revealed to the Hindustan Times that, despite international models such as Kate Moss earning anywhere between $20,000 and $150,000 per runway show, Gracias only earns $1,000: 'The major reason for this wide gap is that Indian models are not valued so much when it comes to commercial projects. You never see a dark-skinned girl on TV ads and that's where the lucrative work is.'

Of course the world of fashion is heavily driven by looks, but in this day and age, the idea that fair skin is somehow deemed more beautiful is both astonishing and out-dated and in no way representative of the multi-cultural society in which we live.

We think it should be up to the fashion industry to set an example to the rest of the world by raising the standards and saying no to racial prejudice both on and off the catwalk. But what do you think?

- Jo Oliver


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