Fair, Lovely and Politically Incorrect

By: Fozia Tahir

Having lived in the UK for five years I had almost forgotten the importance of fair skin in Pakistan. I recently attended a musical event in my hometown in the north of Pakistan where majority of the population has lighter skin tone. The Host who of course happened to be from the south said, ‘the crowd was full of goray chittay people literally meaning, ‘fair skinned (beautiful) people’. The crowd is so used to such comments that no eyebrows were raised and no offence was taken. In the west however, the same host would have had to apologise soon after giving such a statement.

Why did no one question it?

Why were those who are not as fair skinned as most not offended?

Where exactly does this mind-set come from?

and why must we make peace with it?

We have been blaming colonialism and American influence on Pakistan for so many things but perhaps our mind-set is our own problem. Many politically incorrect things, including the obsession with fair skin, seems to have percolated deep down our thought process. I will not quote many research articles and figures here today but blame our media industry and the people involved in it for continuously reinforcing all the false ideas and poor mind-set that we have long fallen prey to.

Those who know Pakistan well would also know that television is the biggest form of entertainment for majority of the population residing in the urban as well as rural areas of Pakistan. People love to spend their afternoons and evenings in front of their TV. I wanted to see what was going on, on TV in terms of obsession with fair skin. I realised soon after that almost all the skin care products sell the very concept of getting lighter skin tone. Such as, 

Urdu: Hum larkiyon ka face fresh hona chahiye

Translation: Us, girls should have a fresh face

You shouldn’t second guess the name of the product. It is indeed called face fresh

Fair and lovely has long used women with dark skin tone as their models and shown their skin tone improve with the use of their product over time as an example.  This is 21st century and I think it’s about time that fair and lovely changes the name for the new lines it is creating.

What’s funnier is that some of these creams don’t display the products that they contain. E.g. I looked at the packaging of a famous whitening cream called gypsy amazing cream that only said at the front that it contains jojoba oil but no further ingredients were given at the back. It is obvious that the products contain bleach and few major ingredients should be placed at the back of the packing. Its not really my problem as I wouldn’t use the product unless I am conducting some kind of research experiment on the product but those who use it deserve to know what must the mystery magic box contain.  

Fair is not good and kaala (dark skin) is not bad and we need to break such stereotypes especially popular products like Fair and lovely whose consumers seem unaffected by such form of political incorrectness.  

The root of all our problems could be lack of education but many formally educated people also believe in the importance of fair skin. In fact, in Pakistan, fair skin is a requirement in the proposal checklist for a girl from the male side.

Women invest more time and money on their physical appearances and almost no time on personality growth..

Solution: Change aka Tabdeeli?

Change is coming. The newer generation is ready to fight all the stereotypes but we are still shackled by many concepts the like of fair is beautiful.

we have a long long long way to go until we speak about issues like pay gap and equal pay for equal work etc nevertheless we should not give up on our fights to break stereotypes.

Good Luck to us for that…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/66542607@N07/6266540192

A working Muslim lady? Who owns the income…

Written and Narrated by: Rabia Nazir

Men and women have been created to run the cycle of life in harmony yet with diversity. While a Muslim woman has been freed from the obligation of breadwinning for the family, her core role is to strengthen the family ties; most importantly raising the off springs as good human beings as her contribution to the society as well as Islam. However, Islam does not restrict the women inside the four walls of the house. We can find many examples of working ladies from early era of Islamic revolution. Hazrat Khadeeja (R.A), the first wife of Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings be upon him), was a successful and in fact the wealthiest businesswoman in the Makkah at that time. Thus, Muslim women have right to get a degree, have a career choice, run a business, and own a property. They are also entitled for inheritances in the property of guardian. I shall try to cover all aspects (focusing on the false believes) associated with the financial standing of women in Islam in my upcoming podcasts. Today, I want to dust off massive misunderstanding about the right of a woman on her own income.
A Muslim women, no matter how rich she is, is NOT responsible for spending her income on her family. It is solely man’s responsibility to provide for the life essentials for his family (parents, wife, and children). While wife in principle is not obliged to spend, she can with her free will and if she does, it will be regarded as favour (ehsaan) for her husband. I will narrate an incident here for endorsement from the wife of `Abdullah ibn Masud (may Allah be pleased with him). She used to work and earn a living. On one occasion, she asked the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) if she could donate her money to her poor husband, to which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) replied, “Yes, and you will be rewarded twice.”(An-Nasa’i). In addition, wife is always entitled for the monthly pocket money from her husband even if she is working herself unless she willingly gives up on it or the marriage itself dissolves. It is also clearly having been said is Quran:

“Whatever men earn, they have a share of that and whatever women earn, they have a share in that.” (Quran 4:32]

Here our society shows a disappointing face where apparently, even in conservative families, women are supported to seek degrees and work but not many of them actually sum up the courage to speak about their access to their own salaries. I personally know many examples where all their income is snatched or at least she faces restriction on spending her money out of free will. The worst case scenario is physical and mental torture in case of refusal and making her to beg for each penny for basic personal needs. It is mostly practiced in labour class and lower middle class where family is financially dependent on few earning hands (including a women in many cases) but mature working couples are no exception to it. In my acquaintances, I have also known to examples where wife’s salary is credited in husband’s account and she is not allowed to maintain her own bank account. Limited income resources coupled with the intense desire to win the race of ‘social status’ lead to the need of controlling the spending rights of woman in poor. While the ‘so-called open-minded’ men are also afraid of financial independency of a woman. It makes me even sadder when I see well-educated men treating their daughter and wives like a dumb cow. While an educated working wife is a nice show-off to the society, at the same time they hypocritically believe that financially independency makes women strong in head. Such a women becomes difficult to control and hard to please. A girl who has earned a degree after spending at least 16-18 years and who have tasted out-door life during education and work should not be trusted enough to spend her money wisely?
This clarification comes with some other aspects too. Of course, the decision of pursuing a career is based on the understanding between husband and wife; it should be a good-will gesture from husband to his lady that he respects her desire to grow intellectually and financially. While many of men might not be ‘narrow-minded’, the fear of disapproval from friends and family greatly affects their thinking pattern. The career choice also matters a lot; academia and health industry based professions are happily acceptable for women in our society, whereas women in technical and trade oriented careers struggle much more and face greater challenges from male fellow colleagues and family members.
I have dared to open up the discussion on this sensitive aspect of a working lady. I have witnessed sufferings happening to my colleagues/friends and stayed silent thinking in my head that ‘It is someone’s personal matter’ or ‘It is their right way to fix their girls’. In my opinion, the real issue is the lack of authentic knowledge as well as the cultural acceptance of the rights for women that Allah has granted those 14 centuries ago. Not raising my finger to anyone but I simply accept my responsibility to raise my son(s) with respect for a women’s right and be a real man who is not afraid of his wife’s or daughter’s independence. If you are a young educated girl too, would you promise me the same?
We, at Meer-e-Karwan, thrive to ‘change the thinking’ about the least cared or talked about social aspects affecting our everyday lives. Please be open to share your experiences and opinions about today’s topic with us!!

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