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Forsha Na kalo (Fair or Dark)? – The Jolting Role of SKIN COLOR!

“Meye toh kalo hobe! (the girl will be dark colored!)”…………. This was one of the first statements made about me by one of my relatives when I was born. From child hood, my complexion was one of most solemn issues I faced. In my society, skin color is a very important issue, and it is believed to reveal aspects of one's personality. This is especially true about a girl. Everyone takes it as a really essential criteria of a girl. Girls with fair skin are considered beautiful while girls with darker skin are not.

When I was young, my relatives used to ask my parents whether or not I was adopted. Moreover, most of the guests coming to our home inclined to address me as “kajer meye (servant)” which made my parents very uncomfortable as well, but no one ever considered how I was feeling when others would laugh.

So, to show the level of discrimination I faced, I would like to share one of my exasperating experiences. Usually, in typical arrange marriage, the groom’s family members visit the bride. Similarly, in my sister’s wedding, there were several grooms’ families who came to see her. Every time people came to see her, I had to hide myself because of my darker complexion. Even, I am not allowed to welcome guests at home because whenever people see me they directly ask whether or not my elder sister is fairer than me, but any of them never realized that how much I was emotionally hurt.

However, every human being takes a turn in their life which changes their life. Correspondingly, Asian University for Women worked as a miracle in my life. This is a multicultural educational institution where students coming from all over the Asia are studying. It represents women empowerment where no one cares about color, religion and gender as well. Being a student of this institution, I forget all the issues related to my skin color which used to make me uncomfortable to talk to people and share my ideas. Now, with all the encouragement of my fellow colleagues and teachers, I dream to be a future leader.

Finally, in general, lighter complexion is a serious discrimination theme in Bangladesh. Now, it is time for people to really wake up to see the hurtful side of the emotional abuse only because of their lighter color. Let us find a way to give skin tone discriminated people a dignified and noble life.


Tanzina Ahmed Choudhury's picture

Really Touching!

Hi Fatima!

Your writing is really powerful. Even though I also have gone through these kind of remarks many a time but I could never put my feelings into writing like the way you did. Indeed, tomar lekha Hridoy Chhuye Gechhe!

But as a last note, I must tell you that whatever complexion we have, it is the self-confidence that makes us beautiful!


Tanzina :)

Tanzina Ahmed Choudhury

Fatema Jannat's picture

Thanks Tanzina :)

Thanks Tanzina :)

Sera23's picture

Fatema, You tell a great and


You tell a great and very important story-- I agree on the importance of institutions, especially educational institutions, encouraging non-discriminative policies on the basis of skin color and an accepting community. The fact that you pursued this different community and gained this knowledge outside of how you were raised is amazing!

I admire you! Thank you for sharing.


Breese's picture

Fatema, thank you for sharing

Fatema, thank you for sharing your story. Such discrimination continues to exist in so many communities, and it is terrible. I'm so glad you are now comfortable with who you are and have found a welcoming and understanding community to surround yourself with.

Monica09's picture

Harsh reality in Bangladesh

Dear Fatema,

Living in Bangladesh all my life, I can totally relate to your story. I have a fair complexion, but the moment I developed a sun-tan, people (including other women) began to be more concerned about my complexion rather than any other aspects of me. I know many other women in Bangladesh and all over the world who face the same abuses that you mentioned here.

However, I am glad that this has not deterred you from aspiring to be a leader, a role-model for others.

Best wishes,

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