Parenting Tips For Moms

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Relatives commenting on your childs skin tone? How to build your child’s confidence..

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  • February 8, 2021
  • MKB Team

Are you irritated with relatives constantly commenting on your child’s skin tone? Are aunties always advising you to bathe your daughter in milk to get rid of her wheatish complexion? Are they coaxing you to feed her with haldi so that she becomes fair and gets a proper groom twenty years down the line? (It’s 2021 and they are still saying this when women are flying fighter planes, winning
Olympic medals, ruling nations and matching men step by step. Get real, aunties!)

Perhaps the aunties are coaxing you to give her a massage with a paste of atta and malai so that her complexion reaches a state of fairness where it is socially acceptable. Consider shocking them by displaying a bold poster of supermodel Naomi Campbell, and please mention that she’s British!

Let’s face it- India as a nation is obsessed with fairness. Whoever invented the term ‘tall dark and handsome’ certainly did not belong to our country. External beauty is still considered the yardstick when people look for life partners and television ads featuring fairness creams are still the favourites of most Indians.
Years of servitude to English rulers made us wrongly believe that the white race was supreme and synonymous with wealth, culture, power, and strangely beauty. Rather foolishly, we have abandoned the dark shade that is our very identity and chased this fairness mirage like dogs chase cars.

Sadly, people who are dark skinned or have a wheatish complexion still start off in life with a handicap in India. If they are not raised properly by parents who are themselves not obsessed by fairness firstly, it will be very difficult to bring about the much needed change in this context.

Teach your child the value of acceptance first. He or she has to learn to call a spade a spade. Tell them that being fair is not what will take them ahead in life. What really matters is grey matter and even that is not coloured white. With your relatives always pestering your child about how to improve her skin colour, it could seriously damage both her self-esteem and self-confidence. Nobody wants to grow up thinking they are inferior. It’s best to politely ask such relatives not to engage in such comments or steer clear of such relatives as you don’t really need them in your life. It might sound harsh but nothing matters more than the child you are raising, really. You see, the way you handle your dark-skinned son or daughter is key to the way they perceive themselves when they grow up. Here are a few tips that
might help the cause:

- Choose bedtime stories carefully and avoid tales that glorify white skin and body shame black skin. Even the mythological tales are distorted somewhat with the evil ones being dark skinned and the gods being white skinned. Instead, teach them
how Krishna was black skinned to show everyone that skin colour didn’t matter and how humans turned him blue in comic books to suit their needs. It’s true!

- Choose your child’s idols carefully. Someone who endorses fair skin in this day and age surely cannot be a positive role model as children emulate their role models by the book.

- Children’s literature also plays a pivotal role. Read out abridged classics like Uncle Tom’s Cabin to your child for him/her to understand the concept of race and equality. If this single book could help in abolishing slavery in America, the
content could do wonders when you are raising your child.

- When you are praising a fair-skinned boy or girl in front of your child, do not use words like ‘How fair she is!’ Instead, “Look how beautiful her eyes are!” is a better form of expression.

- Teach your child the importance of a tanned complexion and how it is valued so highly in the West. Say things like “What a lovely tan!” when you are praising a tanned complexion. Inform her that a sun-kissed complexion is the one that’s
healthy and a pale complexion looks bland. Show your daughter dark-skinned models to illustrate how dark is beautiful.

- Do not obsess about your own looks as this obsession will be inherited by your daughter. Discourage use of fairness creams by not trying them yourself. As they say, like mother like daughter! Instead, encourage her in other areas like sports,
dance, theatre and music that stimulate the mind. You can help your daughter when the time arrives and she starts getting conscious of her appearance on her own. Instead, ensure that you enrich her personality. Good grades in school
will serve her much better in life than fair skin. Amen to that!

Do you think it’s right to be obsessed with fair skin? Share your experiences about how you dealt with relatives who commented about your child’s skin tone.

Q&A

You ask and we answer!


How do you describe skin colour?
Mary Dunne, Mumbai.
A persons skin colour is determined by the amount of melanin in his
or her skin. Melanin is a dark brown to black pigment produced by
special cells called melanocytes. Melanin's purpose is to protect the
skin from the Sun's harmful UV rays. Ultraviolet radiation can cause
skin cancer.

How do I know what skin tone my baby is?
Anu Joseph, Boston.
Some parents swear that the ears will clue you in — check out the
tops of your baby's tiny ears, and youll notice that they are darker
than the rest of your new-born’s skin. There's a good chance her skin
will wind up being close to that colour.


Does breast milk affect baby complexion?
Sumati Felix, Allepy.
Talk to your doctor right away. Some babies also look darker a few
days after birth because they lose water and some weight initially,
and this can make their skin appear sallow. However, most babies
regain a healthy skin tone once a feeding pattern is established and
they are getting enough milk.

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