June 30, 2014

While We Battle the Violence of UNFAIR Advertising….

By Kavitha Emmanuel | Founder & Director, WOW

Image: ASCI (www.ascionline.org)
A resounding 'Thank You' to the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) for introducing new guidelines for fairness products advertisements. While we eagerly await the formalization of these guidelines let’s face the fact that these guidelines will not end skin colour bias from among us.

Firstly, I wonder how many ad agencies welcome this change. It further raises the question as to what loopholes agencies will use to justify “UNFAIR advertising”.

Secondly, people argue and debate about how changing or stopping advertisements that are discriminatory might not necessarily change skin colour perception in the country. When we underestimate the effectiveness of the ASCI guidelines we are denying the obvious powerful influence of the media on young minds in both literate and illiterate contexts. While we know that skin colour bias was not initiated by the media we are firm in our focus to see change in the way colour prejudice is portrayed and reinforced by the media.

Also, the Dark is Beautiful campaign’s mission isn't finished with seeing discriminatory advertisements withheld. We are on a quest to see positive messages on celebrating all skin colours penetrating the media.

I am dreaming of the day when brands would introduce ads that celebrate ‘beauty beyond colour’ and visibly give value and respect to all skin tones. I hope to see people of all skin tones being celebrated and cherished on our movie screens. The campaign beats with a  deeper desire  to see women not being valued merely for their outward appearance but for who they are and what they stand for.

Media is a powerful tool and has the potential to help a society recover from its negative practices and harsh prejudices.

Changing how media influences the nation’s psyche of beauty based on skin colour is part of the Dark is Beautiful campaign’s focus. However, we are always conscious of the need to change mind sets and societal attitudes towards skin colour.If you believe in our mission then be our ambassador by empowering those around you. 

Do your bit by putting back value in people who have faced discrimination.When you find an advertisement that’s repulsive, don’t hesitate to register a complaint with the ASCI. On the same note, lets be on the look-out for brands that are celebrating beauty in all skin tones.

Engage with your community by organizing a DARK IS BEAUTIFUL doodle event, photo booth, or just a simple discussion around the dinner table.

We all need to be in this together to see visible change.  I urge you to welcome and support ASCI’s first step in introducing the guidelines to check discriminatory advertisements.

March 6, 2014

Women's Day Doodle

Freedom to Be Me

By Shini Abraham | Artist and Dark is Beautiful Supporter

This freedom doodle was inspired by thoughts that emerged as I pondered over the intimate connection between courage and freedom. We all have access to revelation and insight - powerful truth about ourselves, revelation about distorted and toxic beliefs, clarity on casting off oppression. Insight is the light that shines and shows us the path to freedom. However, freedom, while it exists for us all, isn't something we just stumble into. It requires commitment on our part, a step of faith, an act of determination before we can attain it. Courage is that bridge to freedom.

Insight > courage > freedom

Freedom is
finding the courage
to be me.

Courage is
to stand alone,
to take a stand against popular opinion,
and conviction
to stand firm on principle.

Courage is freedom to be me.

(© Shini Abraham, www.ducodivina.com/blog)

Shini is an artist, inspirational speaker and a published author on contemplative doodling. She works with children who struggle with learning disabilities, youth-at-risk, as well as with people who have experienced severe trauma and pain in their lives; and teaches on communication design, inter-personal, and inter-cultural communication around the world. She loves the outdoors, books and people - not necessarily in that order.

If you would like to learn more about the book or her doodles, go to ducodivina.com and facebook.com/DucoDivina

February 13, 2014

Is True Love Colour Blind?

Our love reveres—and transcends—differences

By Shiyani Gilbert

When I met Ben for the first time I knew that he was very special. I felt his heart, and I felt his love and passion for God. A month after we met, he proposed and I had on my finger a precious ring passed down from his great grandmother. 

A year after, in 2009, the two of us became one when we said, “We do.” 

As two individuals from different nationalities, cultures, traditions and experiences, and having different expectations, there have been sparks, and fireworks, at times. It’s not just that we come from different walks of life, but the very simple fact that I am a female and Ben is male. We are wired differently. What floats my boat does nothing to his. Through constant communication, understanding and selflessness, we are learning to love each other better.

Our love for each other transcends colour. What makes Ben amazing is what he is made of. He is a man of honour, a man of love, a man of gentleness and courage, a man of respect and loyalty, and a man of his word. He can be green for all that I care, as long as he is my Ben whom I love. 

Having said that, we have discovered some of the differences amongst colours. I had never known what sunburn really looks like until I met Ben, and Ben didn’t realise how scars could take years to go away on darker skin. I don’t bruise readily, if at all, whereas Ben turns pink and blue quite easily. These differences make our life much more interesting and add to the excitement of our discovery.

We have had our fair share of inputs from others, which have not always been encouraging – opinions that “we should stick to our own kind,” and comments that question the reasons for our marriage, such as a British passport being a deciding factor. At times it did feel like we had a lot to prove. But very soon, the significant overtook the needless, and all that mattered was “us.”

The story goes on as we so look forward to this Valentine’s Day, just another day, and another reason to let us know how much we love each other, and celebrate this gift of love we are blessed with. In a world of temporariness, we are blessed with something lasting; in a world of division, we are united as one; in this world of doubt we have trust and in a world divided by colour, we live blind in the safety of love. 

February 3, 2014

Hue: A Matter of Colour, features the Dark is Beautiful Campaign at the International Film Festival, 2014

February, 2014 

HUE: A MATTER OF COLOUR screening at the International Film Festival, Mumbai

The Dark is Beautiful Campaign is featured in this documentary with a story that reveals the toxic effects of skin colour bias in the country

Chennai, 1st February 2014: Sepia Films, Canada and Women of Worth, the Chennai based NGO is proud to announce the screening of documentary film HUE: A MATTER OF COLOUR at the Mumbai International Film Festival on 4th February 2014, at 11am at the TATA Theatre.  The film is directed by the acclaimed Vic Sarin, an Indian born Canadian-American film director, producer and cinematographer who has to his credit films like Partition, Margaret’s Museum, Left Behind and Dancing in the Dark.  HUE had its world premiere at the Vancouver International Film Festival in front of a sold out crowd. 

Hue, which was filmed by Vic Sarin in over 10 countries, including many regions in India, is a personal heart-felt investigation into the history and often-tragic effects of colourism – the phenomenon whereby people within the same ethnic group discriminate against each other based on differences in skin tone.  Sarin travels across the globe to discuss this complex cross-cultural social issue with individuals whose lives it affects.  What Sarin discovered was more than just eye opening, “Having the spectrum of different shades of skin is what gives us the richness in human beauty.  Each and every shade is worth worshiping.”

Sarin is excited about having the film’s international premiere in Mumbai, for several reasons, “Well the story is relevant to my birthplace, it is a personal story and I feel that the it is only right that the film steps out internationally on this stage, as I am sure this story will be especially interesting to an Indian audience."

Women of Worth’s founder Kavitha Emmanuel who launched the Dark is Beautiful campaign in 2009, said,  In 2012 we  received an invitation from Sepia Films in Canada to participate in this documentary that features the issue of colourism across different cultures around the globe. We were happy to have been featured in this documentary directed by Mr Vic Sarin that brings to light an issue that has been swept under the carpet for several decades.

With this documentary the DISB campaign gives another opportunity for India to seriously consider the implications of the belief that a person’s worth is measured by the fairness of their skin.

The  Dark is Beautiful campaign went viral on social media since 2013 with celebrities like Nandita Das, AnuHasan, TannishthaChatterjee, ShekharKapur, Wilbur Sargunaraj, RupinderNagra, Vishaka Singh, Khushboo and others backing the campaign. 

‘The story of Sapna Abraham featured in the film is representative of India’s obsession with fair skin’ added Ms. Emmanuel. “Her story is what convinced me to initiate the campaign in 2009. We are talking about real life experiences of people as we address this issue.”

About Vic Sarin and Sepia Films
Vic Sarin is one of Canada's most celebrated Directors of Photography, receiving numerous accolades including Genie, Gemini and Emmy nominations and awards among others. He is the recipient of the prestigious Kodak Lifetime Achievement Award for having created some of Canadian cinema's most moving and memorable images.
Sepia Films is a feature film production company specializing in international co- production, with a mandate to make quality, commercially viable feature films for the global marketplace. Based in Vancouver, Canada, Sepia focuses on telling great stories in unique ways and in a variety of genres to make movies that resonate with audiences both domestically and abroad.

About WOW: Women of Worth (WOW) is a network empowering women to be agents of change. Based in Chennai, WOW trains students in soft skills such as media literacy, gender issues and personality development. WOW initiated the “Dark is Beautiful” campaign in 2009.

Media Contact:
Anita Samuel: +91-9003222851,
Email: darkisbeautiful@womenofworth.in

January 24, 2014

Amazing This Way

A mother and her daughter talk about colour and confidence

by Pranuthi Bunyan | With a poem by Sanchitha Rahael Sathyadass

As a mother, I have heard people come up to us and make statements such as, "Your younger son has a better colour than the others!" And this would at most times be in front of the kids. It's ridiculous!

Our three kids, Sanchitha (12 years), Tharan (9) and Vivaan (3) are three different shades. We consciously reinforce to them that each shade is precious--one chocolate, one coffee and one caramel! 

Also, we emphasize that God has created each one fearfully and wonderfully and makes no mistakes!

Sanchu, as we call her, is a born artist. She loves to dance and sing and is a part of a children's choir called "Shine," and has formed little singing quartet called the "Four-tunes"! When she was in public school, she was sometimes ridiculed by her classmates for her colour. It would make her upset at first.

One time my eldest son was made fun of at school; one boy called him “black Tharan” in front of me. I immediately asked the child if Tharan's hair and face were the same colour. When he sheepishly said no,  I told him to learn his colours better!

While there are people who are around who make senseless statements, there have also been others who have been an encouragement. There was an opportunity last Christmas when the two eldest kids were featured in a music video. Opportunities such as these and focus on their inner strengths and gifts, have been the main factors in developing a confidence that we have seen, especially in Sanchu over the last few years. We hope that the two boys will also develop their strengths and live as confident people.

When asked to write for Dark is Beautiful, Sanchu was apprehensive initially. But when we told her that this was helping to campaign for a cause that it would help bring awareness to several others and help create a world that is free of discrimination on the basis of colour, especially for the next generations, she cheerfully agreed! In a matter of minutes, she said a little prayer and had the poem thought out, typed out and formatted!

Amazing this way
by Sanchitha Rahael Sathyadass, age 12
Black or white,

Red or blue,

We are the same,

And that is true.

Lotions, perfumes,

Face washes and soaps,

Make you think that

You should glow.

Washing your face 

And applying cream

Is unnecessary.

You look amazing

Just this way,

Cause dark is beautiful,

And that’s what we say.