Daily Dispatch

Outcry at Miss India focus on fairer skin


Organisers of a leading Indian beauty pageant came under fire on Thursday for selecting only fair-skinned women, with human rights campaigner­s saying the contest highlighte­d the nation’s failure to respect women from all walks of life.

The Times of India newspaper, which belongs to the group that organises the annual Femina Miss India contest, this week published a collage of 30 women, each representi­ng an Indian state – and each fair-skinned.

Anti-colourism activist Muna Beatty described Femina Miss India’s selection as a “copy-paste job”, with all contestant­s looking similar with long, dark hair and fair skin.

But she warned such fair-skin bias could impact the mental health and self-esteem of darkertone­d women and girls in India where the issue of the treatment of women has become a nationwide debate reflected at this year’s general election.

“You have youngsters, kids watching this and thinking to themselves ‘if I don’t fit these criteria or this skin tone, then I’m not beautiful’,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Neither the Times Group nor Femina Miss India replied to the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s repeated requests for comment.

Criticism of the annual beauty contest comes at a time when the treatment of women in the country faces increasing scrutiny.

India ranks 108 out of 149 countries in gender equality, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report.

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