What colour is prejudice? Swati Singh’s indictment of the “Fair and Lovely” culture club in India is alien to so many Europeans with pasty faces who long for Indian tobacco coloured skin and glossy black hair. I have even wished for the same myself when I experience apparent prejudice in reverse. As the London correspondent for the Sunday Guardian I am invited to many “Indian” events, typically nobody wants to sit next to me, being blondish and pasty faced I am usually the out one out. At a recent event the audience size was 500, I seated myself next to an aisle not far from the front, after 45 minutes another 498 guests had arrived and still the seat next to me was empty, the last entry was obliged to be seated next to me as there was no alternative. This happens repeatedly and if the event is not full I am always “Billy no mates”.
On Ms Singh’s point about physical appearance being a handicap it seems being dark skinned in India may be the equivalent of being overweight in UK. For 25 years fashion designers and glossy magazines have promoted the skinny look that soon became the dangerously anorexic look, the catwalks embrace the skeletal look to this day,nowbadly affecting teenagers who obsess to be emaciated. Today eating disorder charities are all over UK to help with the sweeping proportions of bulimia and anorexia. Some ad agencies and magazines are making efforts to be more responsible, but there is no official minimum weight or body mass index for models, and model agencies still want size zero girls.Weight can also affect job prospects, insiders say that despite all the equality and liberal laws many employers look for the “right type” for their company’s image, usually young, attractive and slim. Despite campaigners for “big is beautiful” and “plus size” beauty pageants England is more or less a fatist (and ageist) nation.