Fair, Not Lovely
by Pratibha Kelapure
Glow & Lovely (formerly Fair & Lovely) is an Indian skin-lightening cosmetic product of Hindustan Unilever introduced to the market in India in 1975. They changed the name after the backlash last year from the BLM movement.
Color of the skin, a girl’s destiny in life
Pick of the litter, claimed by some of you
Men who could afford to choose a wife
With fair skin tone, a trophy for status
And level of success in career, perhaps
An American Green Card or a Mercedes
At the gate of your Beach Candy bungalow
The matter of your own skin tone is utterly
Insignificant as is your handsomeness quotient,
The personality of a wet dishrag, violent temper
All are acceptable; it is a girl’s destiny
We strive to lighten our skin tones
Nightly applications of turmeric-laced milk
And thank goodness for Fair & Lovely.
Less trouble for parents if we get snatched early.
All those dolls quickly claimed and locked
In those curio cabinets of your homes
We are the buds picked before
We could bloom, the colors of our petals
Forever remain unseen by the sun
Of course, that is immaterial
As long as the vases are pretty and
We snugly fit without inhaling too much air
We are envied by our darker sisters
Who don’t know their own good fortune
They could choose later in life wisely
The affable men who might love them
* * * * *
Pratibha Kelapure is an Indian-American poet residing in California. Her poems appear in Choice Words: Writers on Abortion (Anthology, Haymarket Books, 2020), Entropy Magazine, Plath Poetry Project, miller's pond poetry, The Lake, Tab Journal (upcoming), Amethyst Review (upcoming), and many other literary magazines. She is the founding editor of The Literary Nest.