Trolling Suhana Khan's Skin Colour is Another Sign of India's Deep-seated Colourism

Mathew Maniamkot
·3-min read
Suhana Khan with her father Shah Rukh Khan (Photo by Prodip Guha/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Suhana Khan with her father Shah Rukh Khan (Photo by Prodip Guha/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Hate comments on social media are nothing new for women. Online trolls take it upon themselves to advise women about how they should look, what they should talk, and even who to talk to. The hate brigade’s latest victims if Suhana Khan, daughter of actor Shah Rukh Khan, who had posted a few pictures on her Instagram profile. The first photo on the post was of a beaming Suhana, which were followed by a series of comments about her skin color; none were kind, and had the word “kaali” in most of them. (The literal translation of the word ‘kaali’ is black. It is a slur used against dark-skinned people.)

Not one to take harassment quietly, the 20-year-old girl responded to the trolls on her Instagram post. Her caption reads: “There's a lot going on right now and this is one of the issues we need to fix!! this isn't just about me, it's about every young girl/boy who has grown up feeling inferior for absolutely no reason. Here are just a few of the comments made about my appearance. I've been told I'm ugly because of my skin tone, by full grown men and women, since I was 12 years old.”

Suhana ends her post by adding the hashtag #endcolourism, but not before saying that all of us come in different shades of color and laments that the production of melanin is beyond our control. She also adds that all of us are beautiful and strangers on social media or even family members should not make you feel otherwise.

A screenshot of Suhana Khan's Instagram post
A screenshot of Suhana Khan's Instagram post

The preference for fair-skinned people is linked to India’s regressive caste system as people of higher caste are generally believed to have lighter skin. This caste hegemony is what makes fair-skinned people as more attractive and worthy. TV shows, movies, and advertisements, also perpetuate the belief that fair is beautiful. But it would be unwise to blame the HULs and Emamis of the world alone, the underlying fact is that we are inherently racist. That needs to change.

Recently, a Bollywood song titled “Khaali Peeli” had offensive lyrics that caused a lot of outrage. The song’s controversial chorus, when translated, reads: "When you dance, watching you, oh fair-skinned girl, Beyoncé will be ashamed." After widespread protests, the lyrics were changed to- “Watching you, oh fair-skinned girl, the world will be ashamed." Apparently, the film’s director Maqbool Khan doesn’t get the fact that the lyrics are still racist.

The change needs to stem from the education institutions and from home. As of now, beauty is binary for us- black or white. Removing the word ‘fair’ from a product that promotes fairness doesn’t change much. At the moment, we can only feel bad for letting another impressionable youngster down.

Also Read: Deepika Padukone, You Deserve Better.

(Edited by Athira Nair)

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