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Millennium Post

Because we like our heroines fair!

By becoming Miss America, Nina Davuluri, an American woman of Indian descent and who wants to ostensibly become a cardiologist, has inadvertently set a thousand tongues and twitter handles rolling, and set the media – both the social and presumably unsocial variety – aflame. First the dimwits ejected their racist venom on the social media to smirk or seethe at her achievement, calling her Arab/Muslim (ergo, by their nutty logic, Al Qaeda/terrorist) and questioning how she could become Miss America.

And then the politically correct brigade followed, telling the nutty how, why and in which nano-parts of their brain they are, well, nutty. Sermons and sentimental personal experiences began to emerge like there’s no tomorrow. Black? How dare you call us that (well, why can’t one, if black/dark, or a hundred and two possible shades of it, is what you are?), they wondered. Why can’t non-fair-skinned women aspire to become Miss America, or miss anywhere in the fair-skinned-majority world, they thundered. Davuluri, many proclaimed, could not have crossed the initial rounds of Miss India contest with such pigmentation. Indian men, many others proclaimed even more vociferously, are racist bigots. Well, at least a huge chunk, if not most, of them are, a few others added in caveat.
Can Davuluri find the opportunity to read the script of a leading female’s role in a Bollywood film, let alone enact it, fumed many. It’s necessary to contextualise and localise issues and dissect them. But it’s also interesting to notice how the paradigm of the debate changes in three or four small steps, as if it’s a Lionel Messi move near the opposition’s box: racist Americans (many, many of them women), to racist American men, to Indian men, to racist Indian men. From there, personal experiences and desktop pop-sociology – the marriage market looking for ‘fair complexioned brides’, classified advertisements looking for the same, and Bollywood’s fetish for fair-skinned women to play lead roles, respectively – is just a tap away. Like Messi putting it past the goalkeeper and in the back of the net. Yes, it is necessary to highlight and respond to the racists. And it is
necessary to do that immediately.

But it is equally important to not race ahead of ourselves in that emotional spiel. Sure Bollywood loves their lead heroines fair. That’s because people who make those films believe that people who watch those films want them. Sure beauty pageants want their cheerleaders fair. But that’s because people who organise and judge those shows believe the people who would employ those contestants/winners/cheerleaders to market something would want them fair, because people who would buy those products ostensibly want the idea to be marketed by fair-skinned people, sorry women. It’s a matter of choice. Period. And you cannot blame me if I favour, just for example, Katrina Kaif over Konkona Sen. It’s not a racist taste – at least not in the sense that politically correct people would use that word. It’s just that I like my heroines to be ultimate avatars of stunning gorgeousness when I watch them on a 70-mm screen over two hours. Please keep your actors with girl-next-door image to yourself; I can interact with them while I am passing the next door in the neighbourhood.

This is not to say non-fair actors are not beautiful or can’t act. It’s just that I haven’t come across many. Period. Soon as the Miss America issue broke out, my wife, who isn’t exactly fair, remarked, why can’t men like women who are not fair? Wrong question, wife. It’s just that if you go out and participate in a beauty pageant or a film, I might say there are better ones out there in competition, which in no way takes away from who you are and what you do. And which goes for every woman and man. The very idea of casting for a film or selecting people (and not just women) for beauty pageants is politically incorrect. How can we say all the millions of women who did not – or could not – participate in a beauty pageant are not beautiful?

In a politically correct world, a beauty pageant would not exist – because there’s nothing called an all-encompassing beauty. But since it’s a politically incorrect event in a politically incorrect world, let not political correctness try to fix the incorrectness. So go after the racists who spilled venom after Nina Davuluri won, questioning the raison d etre of her participation, not people who might think Davuluri isn’t exactly their kind of modeling (emphasis on the word modeling) beauty.

On arrangement with Governance Now
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