London: India’s muse to Hollywood, actress Freida Pinto recently spoke of India’s obsession with fair skin at an interview with a popular British Daily. She spoke of the struggles faced by dark skinned women in Indian modeling industry and Bollywood.
At college in her mid-teens, Pinto had realised that theatre and literature were her "calling". To earn some money, she began modeling. The well-mannered, inquisitive youngster found it easy working with photographers, but it was far from satisfying. Nor was the advertising work which followed.
Said the ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ star, "There were some very silly, stupid auditions that I had to go for. Like, there`s this girl who walks into college and nobody`s paying any attention to her because she is not using this particular cream – some kind of moisturiser or fairness cream, which I`m completely against.
Then she`d put on the cream and all the boys would turn to her. And, I was like, `Arrgh, this is so bloody cheesy!` If I ever got shortlisted for any of those parts I`d feel this sudden burden: `Oh my God, if I do this, they`ll pay me and I`ll earn my pocket money – but then it`s gonna be history.` Some of my ads are now on YouTube and it`s just so embarrassing.”
She despairs at the popularity of the "fairness creams" in Southeast Asia –from bleaching potions to lighten the skin. She said, "It`s completely wrong medically – and culturally, of course, because it`s giving people the wrong idea. My friend who`s a doctor told me that she`d have parents come in with kids who were three years old, saying, `Do something – I want my baby to be fair.`
"It`s just this thing that people [in India] are so fascinated by white skin. There`s a lot of people there who are naturally really pale. But the whole idea that you have to be fair – without naming actors, but there are actors who admit it – the fairer you are, the easier it is."
Pinto has come a long way in her career and she is an example to have succeeded in her career without changing her looks much. She is a power woman who believes in individualistic style.
Frieda, who was last seen in the ‘Rise of the Apes’ said, “I feel like this whole idea of wanting something that you don`t really have is also very American in a way. They love tanning! Why the hell are you tanning that much? Then in my country people want a fairer skin tone! It`s just crazy.
"So when I was that Indian export that went to America and people were wanting that natural tan – which I don`t really have to go through tanning [to acquire] – they were excited to include something in their culture, into their film industry, that was not really there already. Or not properly or appropriately represented. So I just feel that this was a change.”