“Why Is ‘Dusky’ My First Adjective?”: Bipasha Basu On Facing Shadeism

After years of calling out ‘Fair & Lovely’ for their obsession with fair skin and channelling that onto the larger Indian audience, Hindustan Unilever decided to remove the word ‘Fair’ from the brand name and make relevant changes to their product advertisements and packaging.

Sharing the news on Instagram, Bipasha Basu went on to narrate her own story of facing shadeism, sometimes within her own family, reports News18.

She started by revealing how from a very young age, known people started comparing her skin-tone to that of her sister.

“From the time I was growing up I heard this always, ‘Bonnie is darker than Soni. She is a little dusky na?’ Even though my mother is a dusky beauty and I look a lot like her. I never knew why that would be a discussion by distant relatives when I was a kid.”

Bipasha goes on to narrate how during her modelling days, newspapers used to call her the “Dusky girl from Kolkata”. However, in foreign countries, people called her “exotic”.

“Soon at 15/ 16 I started modelling and then I won the supermodel contest, all newspapers read, ‘Dusky girl from Kolkata is the winner’. I wondered again why ‘Dusky’ is my first adjective? Then I went to New York and Paris to work as a model and I realised my skin colour was exotic there and I got more work and attention because of it. Another discovery of mine.”

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Missing my short hair … #throwback

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She added how despite doing a lot of successful films, the word ‘dusky’ kept on being associated with her.

“Once I came back into India and film offers started and finally I did my first film, I suddenly was accepted and loved. But the adjective stayed which I started liking and loving by then. ‘DUSKY girl wows the audiences in her debut film’. In most of my articles for all the work I did, my duskiness seemed to be the main discussion. It attributed to my sex appeal apparently. And sexy in Bollywood started getting accepted widely. I never really understood this. To me, sexy is the personality, not just the colour of your skin. Why my skin colour only sets me apart from the conventional actresses at that time. But that’s the way it was. I didn’t really see much of difference but I guess people did.”

She went on to add:

“There was a strong mindset of ‘Beauty’ and how an actress should look and behave. I was DIFFERENT as it was pointed out. It didn’t really stop me from being and doing all that I loved. Well, you see I was confident and proud of who I was from childhood. My skin colour didn’t define me. Even though I love it and wouldn’t want it to be any different ever.”

Bipasha claimed that even though a lot of money was offered to her in the course of her career, she stuck to her principles.

“Many skincare endorsements with loads of money were offered to me in the last 18 years but I stuck to my principle always. All this needs to stop. This wrong dream that we are selling, that only fair is lovely and beautiful when the majority of the country is brown-skinned. It’s a deep-rooted stigma. It’s a mammoth step from the brand (Fair & Lovely) and other brands should follow in the same footsteps soon.”

Have a look at her post here:

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From the time I was growing up I heard this always,”Bonnie is darker than Soni.She is little dusky na?“Even though my mother is a dusky beauty and I look a lot like her.I never knew why that would be a discussion by distant relatives when I was a kid. Soon at 15/ 16 I started modelling and then I won the supermodel contest … all newspapers read … dusky girl from Kolkata is the winner.I wondered again why Dusky is my first adjective ??? Then I went to New York and Paris to work as a model and I realised my skin colour was exotic there and I got more work and attention because of it. Another discovery of mine:) Once I came back into India and film offers started… and finally I did my first film and from an absolute Ajnabee to Hindi film industry …I suddenly was accepted and loved. But the adjective stayed which I started liking and loving by then.DUSKY girl wows the audiences in her debut film. In most of my articles for all the work I did,my duskiness seemed to be the main discussion.. it attributed to my sex appeal apparently.And sexy in Bollywood started getting accepted widely.I never really understood this… To me sexy is the personality not just the colour of your skin…why my skin colour only sets me apart from the conventional actresses at that time.But that’s the way it was.I didn’t really see much of difference but I guess people did.There was a strong mindset of Beauty and how an actress should look and behave.I was DIFFERENT as it was pointed out. Didn’t really stop me from being and doing all that I loved. Well you see I was confident and proud of who I was from childhood.My skin colour didn’t define me … even though I love it and wouldn’t want it to be any different ever. Many skin care endorsements with loads of money was offered to me in the last 18 years ( some were very tempting)… but I stuck to my principle always. All this needs to stop. This wrong dream that we are selling … that only fair is lovely and beautiful when the majority of the country is brown skinned. It’s a deep rooted stigma. It’s a mammoth step from the brand… and other brands should follow in the same footsteps soon🙏

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Kudos to Bipasha Basu for speaking out against people’s prejudice towards dark-skin. We hope more brands take responsible steps to battle skin-tone based discrimination in our country.