- NurPhoto/Getty Images
- On Monday, a Twitter user shared a photo of 30 finalists from the 2019 Miss India pageant, pointing out that all the women appear to share the same hairstyle and skin color.
- Some people on social media were outraged by the image and accused the pageant of being racist.
- Another Twitter user shared a photo of pageant finalists from the 2018 competition, who also appear to have similar hair and skin color to one another.
- Despite having a diverse population of 1.3 billion people, India’s culture has been accused of colorism in the past and showing a societal preference for people with fair skin.
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For over 50 years, a magazine called Femina has hosted the Miss India beauty pageant, in which women compete to advance on to international competitions like the Miss World and Miss Universe pageants. Some competitors like Priyanka Chopra have become world-renowned stars after winning a Miss India title.
But this year, the competition is facing more backlash than praise. On Monday, a Twitter user shared a photo, originally from the Times of India, in which 30 finalists from the pageant appear to share the same hairstyle and skin color.
“Miss India contestants: they all have the same hair, and the same skin color, and I’m going to hazard a guess that their heights and vital stats will also be similar,” the Twitter user wrote. “So much for India being a ‘diverse’ country.”
Miss India contestants. They all have the same hair, and the SAME SKIN COLOUR, and I'm going to hazard a guess that their heights and vital stats will also be similar. So much for India being a 'diverse' country. pic.twitter.com/L4yXG0WvRu
— labellagorda (@labellagorda) May 27, 2019
Following the original tweet, many on social media expressed frustration over the image
While some urged the Femina Miss India pageant to choose a more diverse group of women in the future, others accused the organization of being racist.
Why can't a Miss India be a dusky or a dark brown or darker chocolate brown ?
So much for the love of fair skin.
I sincerely believe we are the most racist country in the world…! pic.twitter.com/uvDMPKi6jZ
— Kamran Shahid (@iKamranShahid) May 28, 2019
— Prity Patel (@prityytirp) May 30, 2019
When @fentybeauty has more shades in their collection than all of the Miss India's combined in the most melanin diverse country ever!!! ????????????????????
— NotRachel (@not_rachel0810) May 31, 2019
What's your obsession with fair skin, India? Why can't we as a country accept the beautiful diversity of skin tones we are so lucky to have!
Such pageants send a wrong message to young girls and defines beauty in the most racist way! https://t.co/rwvjmIN1ta#missindia2019
— Sanjana L Reddy (@sanjanalreddy) May 31, 2019
Its time for parents to teach young people early on that in #diversity there is beauty & there is strength. We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry & we must understand that all threads of tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color. #MayaAngelou.
— Raman Sehgal رمن سہگل (@ramansehgal) May 28, 2019
According to one Twitter user, the Miss India pageant also featured a similar group of finalists in 2018
In response to the original tweet, a Twitter user shared a photo of an image posted by the Times of India in 2018, which showcased last year’s finalists.
Similar to this year’s pageant, many of the 2018 finalists appear to have had fair skin and similar hairstyles while competing.
— Ruchira Mittal (@taruche) May 27, 2019
they could've printed this exact same list today and no one would notice the difference.
— labellagorda (@labellagorda) May 27, 2019
Others, however, believe that the finalists might not actually look as similar as they appear in the photo
On Twitter, some people said makeup and photo editing could have been responsible for making the women appear to have the same skin tone and hairstyle.
Maybe they all had the same hairstylist, make up artist and photographer who Photoshopped to make them all look perfect.
— anjoosharon (@anjoosharon) May 30, 2019
Madame these are airbrushed. See them for real on stage.
— Lafuwa (@DhutBudbakk) May 27, 2019
Maybe they all went to the same stylist!????????♂️
— ☁️???? O҉l҉d҉ ҉M҉o҉n҉k҉???? (@0ld_Monk) May 30, 2019
The Miss India finalists appear to look different in a group photo taken ahead of the pageant
In a different group photo from Getty Images, the finalists do not appear to have skin that’s as fair as what’s shown in the image from the Times of India.
That said, the women still appear to share a similar skin tone and have matching hairstyles. There is not a very large range in skin tones represented in the group.
- NurPhoto/Getty Images
Despite having a diverse population of 1.3 billion people, India’s culture has been accused of colorism in the past and showing a societal preference for people with fair skin
According to Worldometers, a website that shares international statistics, India is currently home to more than 1.3 billion people. Similarly, Atlas Obscura reports that more than 780 languages exist in the country, as well as 68 scripts.
But despite India’s diverse population, there appears to be a societal push in favor of fair skin. Former competitors of the Miss India pageant, for example, have promoted skin-lightening creams to their fans.
Priyanka Chopra did so in a previous Garnier advertisement, but later told Vogue India in 2017 that she regrets her involvement in the project.
“I did a commercial for a skin-lightening cream,” Chopra told Vogue India in 2017. “I was playing that girl with insecurities, and when I saw it, I was like, ‘Oh s—. What did I do?’ I started talking about being proud of the way I looked. I actually like my skin tone.”
Chopra isn’t the only star to talk about the societal pressure around having fair skin in India. In a 2015 report from the guardian, Bollywood stylist Archana Walavalkar said actors frequently hide from the sun when not filming to avoid darkening their skin.
The report also cited Indian matrimonial websites, beauty pageants, and estheticians as contributing factors to the growing interest in fair skin, as did a similar report from The Conversation.
Representatives for Femina Miss India and Priyanka Chopra did not immediately reply to INSIDER’s requests for comment.
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