Saturday, August 29, 2009

cosmetic surgery in India

According to this CBC article, cosmetic surgery and skin bleaching are on the rise in India.

From the article:

 But, some say this desire to look European is deeply rooted in India's history and psyche because of the centuries of British colonialism and subjugation.
"We ape the West," says Susie. "We were ruled for 200 years by white people so it shows that a certain amount of power came with being white. White is beautiful. And beauty is power, right?"

While this may be true to some extent (I don't disagree that colonisation encouraged and reinforced such thinking - in fact the entire Aryan/Dravidian historical explanation for caste seems to be a creation of western orientalism), I think it may be a fallacy to lay all the blame for such attitudes at the feet of colonial rule. The fact is, texts like the Mahabhrata do reinforce some of the colonial interpretations associated with colour division in castes (although they did go and create a 2 race mythos to justify higher castes) as such, the infatuation with lighter skin does seem to predate European invasion/rule.

I'm still trying to work through my thoughts on the issue and will definitely have to do some research on the issue of skin colour bias and whether it really predates the British in India, and if it does, did the Portuguese have anything to do with it (as they arrived earlier). And I wonder how much of the light/dark caste division in the vedas and other texts is actually pronounced or based on cultural bias in interpretation.

Food for thought...

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