Why We Need to Stop Linking Beauty and Success With ‘Fair’ Skin

From depictions of ‘suitable’ marriage partners in Netflix series Indian Matchmaking to the on-going popularity of skin-lightening creams, colourism remains rife in certain communities. Here, writer Ayesha Muttucumaru details her complicated relationship with the word ‘fair’ – and why calling out shade bias is vital.



From Indian Matchmaking to the popularity of skin lightening creams, colourism is still rife. Here's why we need to about skin lightening creams


© Provided by Women’s Health UK
From Indian Matchmaking to the popularity of skin lightening creams, colourism is still rife. Here’s why we need to about skin lightening creams

They dropped the F-Bomb.’ From the moment my mum and I started watching Indian Matchmaking on Netflix, we felt it would only be a matter of time until the word that makes us wince like no other was uttered. The term in question? No, not a four lettered expletive, but something far more insidious. ‘Fair.’



a woman smiling for the camera: The author


The author

As you might know, the docu-series follows ‘Mumbai’s top matchmaker,’ Sima Taparia, as she helps a range of single people in India and the US, with the help of their families, find their future wife or husband. The format has proven divisive. Criticisms levied by certain members of the Indian diaspora on Twitter include that some of the show’s participants engage in caste-discrimintion, mostly using euphemistic terms (‘from a good family’, ‘similar backgrounds’), as well as colourism (a prejudice or discrimination towards those with dark skin that usually occurs within the same ethnic group).

The latter is seen when some participants request a match with ‘fair’ skin. As well as affecting those with darker complexions in south Asian communities, it should be noted that attitudes such as these can lead people down a dangerous road to anti-Blackness.

These statements, some said, go unchallenged by Taparia, which could lead to the normalisation or affirmation of such views. (Speaking to The Cut, Smriti Mundhra, the show’s executive producer, said that she welcomes critique: ‘We’re now at a point where we can actually hold representation to a higher standard and push for better and more nuanced stories. I want to be held accountable. Push me so I can push too.’)

Why the word ‘fair’ is problematic

As to why the word ‘fair’ is an issue? Short story: it is not just seen as a way to denote someone’s appearance, but a character trait, having become synonymous with a person’s place in society, their chances of professional success, status and self-worth. The connotations go far beyond the superficial.

Sounds archaic, right? However, seeing one US-based show contestant casually list: ‘not too dark’ and ‘fair skin’ as a preferred ‘want’ in a potential parter was a stark reminder that colourism seems to be very much alive and kicking, even in my millennial generation.

The history of colourism in south Asian communities

Colonialism and the caste system are two of the reasons attributed to enduring colourist attitudes, as is the way skin colour is portrayed in the film industry, the media and by beauty brands. One notable example is the ‘fairness’ cream Fair & Lovely whose advertisements in India have historically implied that

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How Trump success in ending Obamacare will kill Fauci plan to conquer HIV

In his State of the Union address in February 2019, Donald Trump vowed to end the HIV epidemic by 2030.

Related: ‘Rick Scott had us on lockdown’: how Florida said no to $70m for HIV crisis

But if Trump has his way and the supreme court strikes down the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the resulting seismic disruption to the healthcare system would end that dream.

Democrats have expressed grave concern that if Amy Coney Barrett is seated on the supreme court, the conservative jurist could cast a decisive vote to destroy the ACA in the California v Texas case scheduled for oral argument starting 10 November. The Senate judiciary committee will vote on Barrett’s nomination on Thursday. A full Senate vote is expected on Monday.

The brainchild of Dr Anthony Fauci and other top brass at the Department of Health and Human Services, the ambitious Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America has received for its debut year $267m in new federal spending, largely targeted at HIV transmission hotspots across the US.



a person holding a sign: Amy Coney Barrett listens during a confirmation hearing. Photograph: Anna Moneymaker/AP


© Provided by The Guardian
Amy Coney Barrett listens during a confirmation hearing. Photograph: Anna Moneymaker/AP

The central aim of the Trump-backed plan is to improve access to antiretrovirals, given that successfully treating HIV with such medications eliminates transmission risk. For HIV-negative people, the plan promotes greater use of PrEP – a daily antiretroviral tablet that cuts the risk of HIV by more than 99% among gay and bisexual men, who are its predominant users and account for seven in 10 new infections.

Given antiretrovirals’ enormous cost, the ACA and its broadening of insurance access serves as backbone to the HIV plan, which seeks a 90% reduction by 2030 to the otherwise slowly declining or stagnant national HIV transmission rate of about 37,000 new cases annually.

“The plan is dead in the water if the ACA goes down,” said Amy Killelea, senior director of health systems and policy at Nastad, an HIV public policy non-profit.

“President Trump’s healthcare agenda, in particular his plan to get the supreme court to rule against families’ healthcare, does more to end access to HIV care than it does to end HIV,” said the Washington state senator Patty Murray.

‘Heartbreaking and morally indefensible’

Kaiser found that between 2012 and 2018, the proportion of the non-elderly HIV population lacking insurance declined from about 18% to 11%. This shift was mainly driven by the expansion of Medicaid in the states that opted under the ACA to open the program to all residents with incomes below 138% of the federal poverty level.

About 60% of non-elderly people receiving care for HIV fall into that lowest of income brackets. Forty per cent of people with HIV receive Medicaid, compared with 15% of the general population.

“Striking down the ACA would lead many people with HIV to lose insurance coverage,” said Jennifer Kates, director of global health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Not following the science to address HIV or Covid-19 primarily impacts

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5 High Yield Pearls for Success on the ABIM Internal Medicine Boards

It's crunch time for the ABIM Internal Medicine Boards , and "High Yield" is key. You don't want to waste your time, and you want to be as efficient as possible. Well, I recently gave a lecture entitled, "Dr. Rezaie's 5 Pearls to Passing the Boards." This is a general post, and can be used for any standardized test in your last few weeks of preparation.

Pearl # 1: Always read the question first, look over the answers, then go back and read the question stem

  • You waste your time reading the passage and looking at the labs first
  • What do you focus on?
  • How many times do you go back and forth between passage and answers?
  • This process wastes precious time
  • Instead read the question and answers first and then go back and read the passage.
  • Some questions can even be answered without reading the passage

Pearl # 2: Know the breakdown of the test

  • Specifically for the ABIM board exam "THE BIG 5" are:
  1. General Internal Medicine
  2. Cardiovascular Disease
  3. Gastroenterology
  4. Infectious Disease
  5. Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care
  • These 5 sections alone compromise approximately 50 – 60% of the exam
  • If time is short, focus on these five sections
  • Ideally, you have left yourself enough time to go over all sections, but if time is short, reading over things like dermatology are not high yield

Pearl # 3: Know the big 4 of medical decision-making

  • If you can answer 4 questions about every disease process, you will be prepared for over 80% of the questions on the test:
  1. What is the BEST initial test?
  2. What is the MOST ACCURATE test?
  3. What is the BEST initial therapy / treatment?
  4. What is the NEXT BEST STEP in management?
  • These four questions are known as "The Fischer Method"

Pearl # 4: Pick a single book and question bank and stick with it

  • There are so many options, and all are good.
  • Personally, I think Med Study reads the easiest and is the most high yield followed by MKSAP
  • Ultimately pick one resource and stick with it. Buying five different resources is not realistic to complete and you will not get through all the information
  • Also pick one question bank and stick with it.
  • Whether it be Knowmedge, MKSAP, MedStudy, or Kaplan, you will be able to pass if you learn the material
  • Personally, I have used the Knowmedge and MKSAP question banks and felt like both were very comparable to the ABIM Board Exam

Pearl # 5: Focus on most commons

  • I would know the top 3 conditions of each area cold
  • ie Top 3 infectious disease killers in the world are HIV / AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria
  • ie 3 of the top 5 killers in the world are Cardiovascular diseases, Infectious diseases, and chronic lung disease (No wonder Cardiovascular, pulmonary / critical care, and infectious diseases are 3 of "THE BIG 5")

In addition to these 5 High Yield Pearls also consider another FREE resource such as Twitter (My personal recommendations …

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Your Fitness Success – Just a Phone Call Away

Did you jump out of bed this morning, ready to exercise? Or was it another morning where the snooze button won over your best intentions? Do you have a crazy morning business schedule, but promise yourself you will work out at the end of the day? How many times have you actually followed through with that promise?

Most people know they should exercise, and many know how to do it, but simply can't get motivated. Many busy people have found their answer in a growing trend in fitness known as phone coaching.

You probably have heard of coaches for different facets of life personal, business, financial, etc. Fitness coaching by phone appeals to the busy person who is trying to balance work, family and personal care, and often finds their care at the bottom of the list. With our crazy schedules, it is hard to find the time to exercise, let alone make two to three appointments a week with a personal trainer at the health club. Fitness coaching by phone saves you time, frustration and money. With a phone coach you have a 20 to 30 minutes weekly phone session to determine your goals and exercise schedule for the week. You exercise on your own, whenever and wherever it is convenient.

Tara, a phone coaching client in California liked the convenience and the motivation her coaching program provided: A friend of mine at work suggested phone coaching. I said, why not? I did not have to go anywhere. I could call my coach from work and exercise by just walking out the front door of my office. Pretty soon, I found on my walks that my feet were wanting to fly over the pavement, so I started walking and running, then built up to where I would run the 30 minutes. It became addictive – I was actually looking forward to it!

Fitness coaching by phone is most valuable as a means of keeping people accountable. Too many people, for example, join a health club with expectations of attending regularly and getting fit. Its not too difficult to keep this commitment at first, but inevitably it becomes easier to find excuses to not go, especially when no one is checking up on you. Accountability is essential!

Researchers at Stanford University have been studying phone-based exercise counseling for over 20 years. They have found astounding results – after six months of phone coaching, up to 90% of the subjects were still exercising on their own. Those people who had a coach to guide them and to hold them accountable were more successful and exercised independently, working with their coach by phone.

One of the most important goals of phone coaching is to teach the participant how to become his or her own independent coach and motivator. By learning how to exercise on your own, you will be able to create a lifelong habit.

Fitness coaching by phone is a concept whose time has come. You can find fitness coaches all …

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