Q How much have you actually thought about the colour of your skin?
A Not very much, but I did as a teenager. I went to an all-girls school and a big part of being beautiful was being fair.
Q Were you ever subject to “colorism” – any sort of discrimination or singling out as the result of your skin colour? At school, or as a child?
A Yes, It was awful! My boyfriend in high school was a gorgeous Punjabi boy and he had two brain cells that he didn’t use for the fear of blowing them up, bless him! He told me constantly that I had to be fair else his parents wouldn’t like me. They didn’t, and I really couldn’t have given a shit because I didn’t like them either. But I did bleach my face a couple of times and stopped playing sports so I wouldn’t get a tan. That was for a brief period and I dropped that rubbish very quickly. There’s something delicious about tan brown skin. It’s so sensual!
Q Do you feel like there’s still a hierarchy of beauty based on skin shades?
A Yes, in some parts of the world, but it’s changing rapidly.
Q Ever been on the receiving end of ways to lighten your skin?
A Yes! I’ve put uptan’ on my face and body after basketball matches, as well as dahi and nimbu on a regular basis to lighten a tan. I’ve even bleached my face a couple of times! When I lived in Delhi, I was asked to audition for the spot of a fairness cream model and it was such rot. The storyline was how I got the job of my dreams once I became fairer.
Q Your prediction: is this obsession with fair skin is going to wane?
A It’s certainly going to get diluted. There will always be those who like fair skin because they like fair skin. It’s a personal preference. But there’s a growing number of people who aren’t blindly following the love for fair skin. I think countries like India, Tanzania, Kenya, China are the worst hit by fair fever, but these are countries with a varied population and beauty comes in all colours and sizes.