“If ignorance is a bliss, why do we seek knowledge?” this was the question that was asked during probably the greatest edition of any beauty pageant ever held, Femina Miss India 2000, where the world witnessed the rise of three future superstars. Today I feel like asking this question again to all the people who are bashing Miss India on twitter; accusing the Miss India pageant of colourism. Is your ignorance a bliss?
Recently the Femina Miss India pageant unveiled the contestants of its 2019 edition with a full page feature in Time of India. After seeing the unveiling photos, many people took it to twitter to express their discomfort over lack of apparent diversity of skin colours among this year’s batch of contestants. Jumping on this twitter trend (because apparently that’s how “news” is decided nowadays), many news outlets started posting articles about this. Some of these articles have implied that the Miss India pageant usually favours contestants with lighter skin tone. We at TGPC have been following the pageants under Times Group very closely for years. So today we would like to stand beside the pageant we have loved over the years. Because we firmly believe that all such accusations are baseless and the pageant provides equal ground to all the contestants regardless of their background or the colour of their skin.
One such article criticizing Miss India came from BBC. The article opens with crediting Miss India for kick-starting Priyanka Chopra’s illustrious career. But in the later part of the article, it says that the most successful alumni of Miss India pageant tend to be fair skinned. Priyanka’s skin tone isn’t fair though! All around the world, Priyanka is known for her dusky beauty. Apart from Priyanka, Lara Dutta who won the Miss Universe pageant in 2000, is also an excellent example of a successful Miss India alumna with dusky skin. In recent years also we have had Miss India winners like Manasvi, Nicole Faria, Prachi Mishra, Sobhita Dhulipala, AafreenVaz, Priyadarshini Chatterjee, Sushruthi Krishna and the reigning Miss India winner Anukreethy Vas are all dusky. So there’s absolutely no point in debating that the pageant favours contestants coming from one part of the country or with a particular colour of skin.
One important thing we must understand before passing any comments at Miss India, is that the pageant contestants are putting a lot of effort to be on that stage. A lot of their resources are invested in this dream. The unveiling photos are supposed to be the first experience of fame for a lot of these girls. So rather than cheering for them, if you change the conversation towards a non-existent issue, then it affects the morale of girls competing in this pageant.
Having said this, we must agree that the editing of these photos was problematic. Lightening of skin tone in professional photos is common across beauty industry and this may be re-considered. How many times do we upload a picture on instagram without putting up a filter? This pageant has been known for being path breaking and should continue to be so by speaking up against unnecessary enhancing of images in the beauty and fashion industry which we are sure will be done in upcoming editions.
Author: Jinendra Aherkar
Picture Courtesy: Femina Miss India