Each one of us 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. My story is about a society where women are unfortunately judged by the clothes they wear, the structure of their bodies and most importantly by the color of their skin.

And it didn’t take long for me to fall victim to my own skin color.

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 color crayon, and not any darker shades like brown or black to color the face I drew, while I chose dark brown color. This was the first ugliest truth that I had experienced about Colorism.

Everything around was so white, was so fair, be it the cartoon characters I used to watch on TV, be it the fairy tales or the bedtime stories I used to read or listen to, or the Barbie dolls I used to play with, even the Disney princesses all girls start their childhood with.

As time passed, I began to realize that despite all my capabilities, I was always judged on the basis of my skin color 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 to me. 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.

I spent my childhood and teenage life having zero confidence and low self-esteem thanks to the incidents I faced. Even a time came when I had enough and didn’t want to live anymore. But I suppose it wasn’t my fault, because it’s actually how we have been brought up and taught at schools and even via media that the fairer the better. It’s how our minds have been polluted by the unfair advertisements that are shown 24/7 on our television screens as well as the cultural misunderstanding that being beautiful is about having a fair complexion.

We are accustomed to listening to stories from our elders, tales of snow-white, all nothing but discrimination against darker skin tones and preaching Colorism. What to talk about the mothers who are always in a search for white-skinned daughter-in-laws for their sons and rejecting those who are dark skinned.

Luckily “color” was never a topic of discussion for my family but sadly it was for the world outside my home. I was always told by my elders that looks don’t matter and that I have to focus on my studies and my career. I seriously used to find such statements funny at times.

Being an anti-social person I always preferred not to interact with people much as the past incidents had a huge psychological impact on me and 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 player trying to bolster up the declining women on the very grassroots of the country. I not only had been working for the basic social rights and inclusion of women with disabilities but also those without disabilities. I also started lobbying for women’s leadership legislations by arranging consultancy services. By being part of these and other such national and international organizations, I was striving to bridge up the gap between socioeconomic and political fortification of women. Gradually I gained more confidence as I continued my efforts for women empowerment and finally grew out of all the fears that I have had.

But soon I realized that I was living in a fool’s paradise because, Despite of all my efforts and achievements in the world of activism, the skin color stratification would not leave me and still, I was being mocked with statements like ‘Oh let’s paint her white!”

Sometimes I tried raising a voice against Colorism, but my voice for help about something that affects millions of women everyday was met with a resonating silence that SUCH A THING DOESN’T EXIST.

The question kept nagging me as to why the society rejects people who are dark skinned and follow an unrealistic definition of beauty while complexion comes from God and no one can change it!

And then I finally decided to go against the tide and take a stand against this biased attitude. I decided to dedicate my efforts for the much needed ‘change’ we all strive for in our society. I decided to spread the message of Diversity, Uniqueness and respecting differences.

This is how Dark is Divine came into being. The first anti-colorism campaign from Pakistan, working globally through a 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 color is embraced with good grace as light-skin color, to the point where the skin color, body shape & body size of a woman ultimately has no importance. The campaign envisions a society in which equal treatment is given to everyone irrespective of the color of their skin, size and shape of their bodies, by redefining the so called Beauty standards and the “Perfect body image” that have been propagated by the media for the various money minting avenues it creates.

Dark Is Divine believes that beauty products advertisements unfairly assert that if women are light-skinned, they are flourishing. These advertisements teach young girls that their self-confidence and success depends on the structure, shape and height of their bodies and especially on the lightness of their skin. Such unfair advertisements are responsible for emphasizing negative stereotypes, creating social inequalities and inferiority complexes that lead to depression and segregation from society. Dark-skinned girls even encounter discrimination when applying for jobs that place them in the public eye, such as receptionist positions, flight attendants, and television anchors.

And if a dark-skinned woman does get such a job, she will likely be asked to cover her face with a light foundation.

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.

However our society has failed to provide this respect, biased towards our own and we have dual and superficial standards for everything around us. Dark is Divine aims to rid the society of this mindset and to prove that respect for all is important. I believe to break down the unrealistic standards of beauty and work for a society that is inclusive and accommodating. A society where beauty comes in all shades, shapes and sizes.

It wasn’t really a piece of cake to come up with an idea of an anti-colorism campaign and going against the tide by challenging the mindsets and biased attitudes of the people. At the beginning nobody was even ready to accept the concept of “Dark is Divine”, The local newspaper that I had contacted to get my article published said a big NO.

I was told that Colorism is not a big issue and that my article can not be published. But I didn’t give up and with the passage of time with a lot of determination and consistency my articles got published and through my articles I got a chance to reach out to the masses and convey the message of “Dark is Divine”. Meanwhile also started conducting sessions at different schools and universities which have generated an awareness and my work has been published far and wide; however what I have started is just the tip of the iceberg. Everyone from this new generation needs to take a stand against society’s unpractical standards of beauty.

I have also raised my voice at different public forums against Colorism and I will keep raising it to give confidence to those who are victims of this disease. If I could make it, despite all the hurdles in my way, then so can you!

I quote it proudly, that Dark is Divine!

Check out Dark Is Divine on Facebook.