Photograph of the finalists of Miss India arouses the debate about the obsession of the country with clear skin

Photograph of the finalists of Miss India arouses the debate about the obsession of the country with clear skin
What has been an innocent school this year? The finalists of Miss India have become a heated debate in social networks about the obsession of India with clear skin.

The image, published in the Times of India newspaper, had 30 shots to the head of bright-haired finalists who seemed to share the same skin tone.
In a country with 1.3 billion people, hundreds of languages ​​and thousands of ethnic groups, Twitter users suggested that beauty pageant organizers only choose contestants to perpetuate Eurocentric beauty ideals.
"Everyone has the same hair and the SAME SKIN COLOR, and I'll risk guessing that their heights and vital statistics will also be similar," wrote another Twitter user, Prasanna Ratanjankar.
While the skin tone of the participants is particularly light and their appearance especially uniform in the university that caused an uproar online, other photographs and videos of the participants reveal that their skin is as diffuse as the image of the Times of India. The Times of India and Femina, the organization that hosts the site, have the same parent company: Bennett, Coleman & Co.

The controversy surrounding the photograph of the Times of India, however, highlighted a sensitive issue in India, where Miss India is a great cultural event.

The competition helped launch the careers of actress Priyanka Chopra and Bollywood icon Aishwarya Rai and has become a benchmark of national pride when the winners are going to bring home international titles, such as Miss World.

The winner of the Miss India titles is often "prepared for the global beauty stage," said Radhika Parameswaran, a professor at the Indiana University Media School. "There is a perception that they have to emulate Western beauty standards to win."
The organizers of Miss India declined to comment.
The fact that India won the Miss World contest six times could have convinced the organizers to stick to one type, says Kavitha Emmanuel, founder of the Indian NGO Mujeres de Valor, which campaigns for gender equality and against the bias towards clearer skin.
The infatuation with justice now goes much deeper than the contests. "It is a toxic belief that you have become part of our culture," explained Emmanuel.
Parameswaran is currently investigating the backlash against colorism, a term that means "a form of stratification of skin color and skin color discrimination that assigns greater value and value to people with lighter skin and particularly women". It is a problem, he said, that he is very much alive in India.
"Colorism and racism are Siamese twins and can not be separated," he added.

National obsession

The obsession with fairness can begin before a baby is born in some parts of India, with some pregnant Indian women drinking milk with saffron tea to make their children's skin lighter. Others avoid iron supplements in the mistaken belief that it will make their unborn child darker. These practices, however, have become much less common in areas where levels of wealth and education have improved.
"We still have marital wars in the newspaper that say 'they wanted: fair and thin brides,'" Emmanuel said.

It is a problem that mainly affects women since the economic value of men is considered more important than their beauty. "Women's bodies are their currency," said Parameswaran.

Cosmetics brands worldwide have benefited from insecurity, taking advantage of a multi-million dollar industry of creams, skin whiteners and invasive procedures that promise to lighten the skin. The demand for bleaches is projected to reach $ 31 billion by 2024, compared to $ 18 billion in 2017, especially in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, according to market intelligence firm Global Industry Analysts. According to the World Health Organization, the use of routine skin bleaching ranges from 25% in Mali to 77% in Nigeria and 40% in China, Malaysia, the Philippines, and South Korea.
"Very little of the world is not affected by colorism," said Parameswaran.
A 2017 study found that more than half of 1,992 men and women surveyed about the use of products in India had tested skin whiteners and almost half (44.6%) felt the need to test such products due to media such as television and advertising.

The country's persistent legacy of caste is often credited as a root cause of the problem, since those of the lower caste group, known as the Dalits, are associated with