My Parents Favored My Sister Just Because She Had Fairer Skin
15 Feb 2017
"Aapke paas toh god gift hai,” said the man selling bridal lehengas to my sister. My sister and I sniggered. That's when I realized that it really didn't matter to me anymore when people complimented my sister on her fairness. But that hadn't always been the case. My sister's light skin had been the bane of my childhood.
My sister was born four years after me, and while I was ecstatic at becoming an elder sibling, an unsettling feeling started creeping in. She was the kind of baby you see in foreign ads—creamy white skin, red cheeks and an angelic smile. Everyone who met her cooed about how beautiful she was. Some people made thoughtless remarks about how she really looked like my parents’ daughter, instead of me.
My parents smiled awkwardly, but soon they too joined in. As we grew, my mother started buying me skin care products that claimed to make you fairer. I stuck out in family photos.
My mother started telling me to wear certain colours so that it didn't clash with my skin tone. For my sister she would say every colour suits her. I started feeling resentful, my sister got all the adoration from friends and family, while I was largely ignored. One day I overheard my father joking with my mother about how I really didn't look like their daughter.
I cried to sleep that night.
Increasingly I started shying away from family gatherings and social outings with friends. I buried myself in my books and discovered that I loved telling stories. I started writing and created an alternative world for myself where I wasn't judged and ridiculed on the basis of my skin colour. Soon my stories started getting published and the same people who had laughed at me started praising my writing.
They realized that you really should never judge a book by its cover. My relationship with my sister started improving. I had pushed her away for no fault of her own.
Once I felt my self-confidence return, I no longer resented her or kept her at a distance. She had always been supportive and had never paid attention to what everyone else had been saying. It dawned on me that her real beauty lay in the kind of person she was.
I eventually sat my family down and told them what I had experienced, how I had felt. My parents hadn't realized the psychological damage they were causing. They promised to never again compare my sister and I, not just on skin colour, but in anything. We were two different people and we had our own strengths and weaknesses.
While my childhood had been scarred by my sense on inferiority, as my self-esteem grew I realized it really doesn't matter how you look. Who you are and what you do is much more important. Though it wasn't a pleasant experience to live with, it made me a stronger person. I had to fight hard to get over my insecurities and build a fulfilling life for myself. I now actively stand up for what I believe in and engage with issues that are close to my heart. It's also made me a more aware parent, because I have learned the hard way that we should never compare our children to anyone else.
Now when anyone differentiates between my sister and I on the basis of our skin colour, we just exchange a knowing look and smile.
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Tags: #Melanin #Dark #Fair