Growing up we all had someone we looked up to. This could be someone we looked up to because of their sporting ability, someone we looked up to because of their intellectual ability and some we looked up to purely because of their appearance #BeautyGoals #BodyGoals #EyebrowsOnFleek and so forth. We have all had phases of admiring celebrities such as actors, actresses, singers, artists etc. Now this could be because of their pure talent in their role/profession but a lot of times it’s attributed to their aesthetics.
For young people, appearance plays a massive role in their sense of validation and self-worth. So for me personally, growing up in a predominantly Hindu/Tamil/Sri Lankan/ South East Asian (whatever you want to call it) community my #beautygoals or my superheroes that I grew up admiring was actually the Hindu Goddesses. I was taught that the most beautiful women in this universe were Lakshmi, Saraswati and Durga. For their long luscious hair, symmetrical facial features, hourglass bodies and of course the obvious their… #FairAndLovely skin.
As you guys may have noticed, I’m a huge advocate of #UnfairandLovely with my last project #UnfairandRoyal and my video project #ImDarkSoImUgly tackling the issues of dark skin shaming. So it got me thinking deeper into why I despised the colour of my skin so much? This led me to having an ah-ha moment and drawing my attention to an art form called – Hindu Art! Within Hindu art I want to direct your attention to the most widespread artistic style through which our Hindu Gods and Goddesses are portrayed and that’s “Calendar art”. This art form spread through India and has now become the standard art form in which Hindu deities are portrayed.
I mean let’s take Lord Krishna for example. So the term “krishna’ in Sanskrit simply means “black” and if you listen to many devotional songs dedicated to him there are multiple references to his dark skin. So my question is why do we commonly portray him with blue skin? Then we have Goddess Kali – she is described as having ‘black skin’ yet just doing a google search shows hundreds of images of Kali in either blue or purple skin.
Why are we SO afraid to use the colour brown/dark brown/black in our art?
I well and truly understand and acknowledge that there are plenty of people in the South Asian community who are born with light skin. However, I just feel these goddesses are portrayed with extremely pale to pink skin which does not reflect our Hindu community. People of light skin complexion truly are a minority in the South Asian countries. I think it’s crucial that Hindu iconography should make way for the large part of the Hindu community, who have darker skin complexions to be reflected in the art as well. So I want to challenge our art community to be more open minded and that is why I created this project #TheDarkSkinnedGoddessProject
These were some of the phenomenal submissions from talented artists from all over the globe:
Hopefully you found this project inspiring, creative but most importantly given you a realisation into the underrepresentation of our dark skinned beauties and how that has serious implications on the mentalities, self esteems and just confidence of a big part of the south east asian and I guess African community.
My inspiration for this concept and project came to me through the following campaign.
Thanks for reading.
The Life of a Social Butterfly!