As a baby, digital marketer and mannequin Latha Ravichandran from Chennai was so used to being addressed as ‘okayali‘ (darkish), she didn’t initially realise she was being bullied for her pores and skin color. “I thought ‘Kali’ was my name because all my relatives called me that,” she was quoted as saying in a Humans of Bombay submit on Instagram.
Such prejudice towards darkish pores and skin is just not unusual in Indian households, typically ingrained in us in such a approach that we fail to determine it as an issue. The greatest one can do is to defend, as did Ravichandran’s mom. “I didn’t realise I was being bullied for my colour. I’d hear nani say, ‘You’ll have to give a lot of dowry to get her married.’ And amma would quietly listen and then make excuses for my skin, ‘Oh, she’s learning to swim.’”
The discrimination continued at school as properly. She recalled how her classmates didn’t need to sit beside “kali ladki“. She started to assume she was “ugly”. “…my confidence took a big hit. I had dreams of becoming a model, but I was convinced that because I was dark, I was ugly.”
“So, to ‘rectify’ that I used equity lotions and talcum powder; I used to be 13. I assumed that if I turned fairer, nani would cease taunting me. But it solely made it worse – boys began calling me ‘kali bhoot’,” the mannequin expressed.
All of this was an enormous blow to the then younger lady’s vanity. “From being the girl who’d put on fashion shows every day, I became the girl who spoke only when spoken to. Somehow, I got through school and college and landed a marketing job.”
Thankfully, at her office, Ravichandran felt no one was actually bothered about her pores and skin color. Talking about how her modelling journey began, she mentioned, “Then one day, a colleague introduced me to a photographer who wanted to collaborate with me. He said, ‘I’ve never seen anyone with such features.’ It was the first time someone had complimented me.”
“That night, I looked at myself in the mirror and smiled. I’d never done that before – I hated my own sight. But someone thought I was beautiful… I agreed to do the shoot!” she added.
Soon, Ravichandran started to be approached by different photographers and types. “I even started wearing bright colours which I didn’t before because amma said, ‘They don’t suit you!’” she expressed.
In the tip, it’s all about loving your self, the mannequin believes. “I wasted 25 years of my life living in the shadows when what I really wanted was the limelight, but no more–I’m here & I love myself. Now, I put on the reddest lipstick & strut in front of cameras! I no longer care if people call me ‘kali’–if they can’t deal with the fact that brown is beautiful, then that’s their problem… not mine.”