Fair chance for the dark

She is a vision on the ramp and she is one of the most successful models of the region. And city model Deborah Doris Fell carries off her dark skin with confidence, a contrast to the sob stories that the fairness cream industry has been feeding the country for decades now. 

Thankfully, there will be no more portrayals of tragedies on stagnant careers, non-existent love lives and suicidal thoughts of dark-skinned people courtesy the recent ban by the Advertising Council of India on commercials that make people who have darker skin seem unsuccessful or unattractive.
Deborah, who is obviously happy with the much-needed ruling, says, “When compared to the time I started modelling; people are beginning to accept me now. But given the fact that I work in an industry that depends on what brands want, there have been times when photographers have manipulated my photographs to lighten my skin tone even without asking me.”
“There have been times when photographers have asked me if they could make my complexion lighter, and I have refused. Honestly, I wish I could work with photographers who can photograph me in my natural look, but not many have the skill to do so,” she adds.
Besides having a city model doing so well in the fashion industry, Hyderabad’s own ‘Dark is Beautiful’ revolution is brewing in the city’s photographer community.
The brain behind the city campaign, Rahul Reddy, explains why dark skinned models like Deborah are a pleasure to work with.
“Working with Debbie is much easier as her tone allows her to look brilliant even without hours of make-up sessions. That’s the case with all models with darker skin tone. Photographers worldwide will agree that when it comes to emoting anger, anguish and other emotions, they are more prominent in tanned tones than on pale ones. In fact, photographs of models with a pale skin tone require a lot of post-shoot editing to add a bit of colour to bring out the features.”
Rahul and a group of city photographers are currently shooting dark skinned women from different fields to raise awareness on the way people are perceived, based on their complexion. “So we nominated 10 women from different walks of life and asked 10 photographers to shoot them. After the shoots, there will be an event showcasing why dark is actually beautiful. The event is due in October,” adds Rahul.
While ads are just a part of the media that forms public opinions, artistes from the industries of movies, theatre and all other art forms are also welcoming the ruling.
Filmmaker Raj Nidimoru, who hails from the Andhra region and is making a mark in B-town, says, “For a while now, I have been disappointed and frustrated with the explosion of the fairness product industry. And this is a great start for a larger change in perceptions.”
In his 2011 movie, Shor in the City, a satirical take on society, he had his actress, Radhika Apte, apply fairness cream. “She does that after seeing her husband watch TV. The scene was a take on the psyche of the people,” adds Raj.
“But when it comes to casting for my movies, skin tone has never been a criteria. I prefer a representation of reality and, technically speaking, it isn’t hard to portray beauty in dark skin,” he adds.
City theatre artiste Vaishali Bisht also puts casting into perspective of visual arts and audience. “Unless you are playing the Moor in Othello or something along those lines, the skin tone, whatever end of the spectrum, barely matters. The point is that you can control or rather filter ads and even art to a certain extent, but the problem really lies in the choices of individuals and the perspective of the people. We need to address the prejudices to be able to root out this kind of a thing completely.”


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