Sunday, 27 November, 2022
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Suhana Khan spoke up about colourism when Shah Rukh Khan wouldn’t. Don’t pull her down for it

While Shah Rukh Khan played a role in perpetuating colourism by endorsing a fairness cream, at least Suhana Khan has shown some spine by speaking up against it.

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Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s daughter Suhana Khan has made headlines for her recent Instagram post, in which she called out India’s fetish for fair skin and recounted how she has been called ugly because of her skin tone since she was 12 years old.

The brave and honest post about colourism was hailed by many. Suhana may also be the first star kid in India to open up about facing colour bias.

But not everyone was impressed. Many called her a hypocrite and asked her to preach to her father first, who for years has endorsed fairness cream brands.

We can certainly question SRK’s association with a men’s fairness cream brand, but why drag his daughter into the ethics of his choices? Can’t we just appreciate the fact that a 20-year-old young woman has spoken up on an issue that Bollywood has only unapologetically promoted and perpetuated? An issue that India’s film industry, even in 2020, can’t wrap its head around — the ‘Beyonce sharma jayegi’ debacle is still painfully fresh in our memories.

Aren’t we beating around the same patriarchal bush if we are holding a daughter responsible for her father’s choices? Is she not entitled to have an opinion of her own?

The pushback Suhana faced only reiterates how, as a society, we love to pin the blame on women and target them for men’s actions and failures. Remember how actor Anushka Sharma was recently dragged into a controversy over her cricketer husband Virat Kohli’s unimpressive performance in an IPL match?

If Shah Rukh Khan endorses a men’s fairness cream, it is his failure and misjudgment as a public person, and people need to question him for making that choice. Not slam his daughter.

Shouldn’t we, instead, acknowledge the fact that while Shah Rukh Khan played a role in perpetuating colourism by choosing to endorse a fairness cream, his daughter, at least, has shown some spine by speaking up against it?

The object of our scorn should be the father here, not his daughter who is speaking up against the problem.

Also read: Bollywood’s love for fair skin runs so deep that even Beyonce couldn’t escape it

Women are an easy target

A quick scroll through Twitter made me realise that people seem to have made up their minds to target Suhana.

From questioning whether she deserved to be on the cover of Vogue India to wondering out loud why she has a blue tick on her Instagram account, social media users seemed less interested in Suhana’s stance on colourism, and more inclined towards questioning her privilege. This just seems like an attempt to digress from the real issue of colour prejudice.


This digression is quite characteristic of how Indian society approaches the issue of colourism in the first place.

Indians aren’t too comfortable in talking about something that is so widespread and practised so openly across the country. Any attempt to discuss such deep-rooted obsession will either be dismissed or be met with hostility and counter-attacks. Remember the deafening silence from Indian cricketers after their colleague from West Indies, Daren Sammy, called them out for being racist.

Suhana has now witnessed the same thing. People tried to shut her down by questioning her privilege and self-worth because they aren’t really interested in discussing the real issue at hand.

Also read: ‘If Rahul Gandhi can be everywhere, why can’t Suhana Khan be on Vogue cover?’

A troll favourite

This isn’t the first time that Suhana has been the target of online hate. She has been mercilessly trolled in the past for her physical appearance, her skin tone and her fashion choices.

People have targeted her for partying with ‘shirtless boys’, for posing in a ‘revealing’ outfit with her friends, or when she was featured on the cover of Vogue India.

What was constant in all these online attacks was the fact that she was always slammed for her looks and complexion. Distasteful comments about her appearance would always flood her social media posts every time she uploaded a picture of herself.

As a 20-year-old, it was quite brave of Suhana to open up about the discrimination she has faced as a child, and still continues to face. I know how hard it is to “distance yourself from the melanin”, as Suhana rightfully pointed out in her post, when your family, friends, neighbours keep reminding you about how central your skin tone is in India. At Suhana’s age, colour bias had affected me so much that I chose to live my harsh reality in silence.

But she chose to speak up, and therefore, deserves to be lauded for choosing to voice her concerns. Such frank discussions on colourism will open doors for many other women to share their stories of discrimnation, instead of having to suffer in silence. Be it a star kid or a layperson, colour bias is painful for everyone. So, if someone has chosen to condemn it openly, they must be encouraged. That’s how we can keep up the fight against colourism.

Views are personal.

Also read: Before Fair & Lovely, there was Afghan Snow ⁠— all about the fairness creams market in India

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  1. Suhana is a young and at a age where she is impressionable.

    Luckily her father is very rich.

    She deserves to take up issues she thinks important.

    She can also help poor people if she so wishes..

    Again let’s not pressure a young kid .GOD BLESS.

  2. So many problems around, and all you can think is what some Suhana Khan said? Really! Or again is this a PR stunt to launch yet another star kid? Please get over this bollywood fixation. These people are dumb and self centered. Why waste time asking them?k

  3. Seriously?? Is that issue in this country? People won’t pull her down but you who consumed invaluable space on this page.

  4. We ssay, poor girl, should not be treated like the way she is, because of her father’s choice. I agree to this, but why in every article you quote” Shahrukh Khan’s daughter Suhana Khan” , just before starting your article. Actually the correlation is brought in to give her a reference in the industry, and I am sorry the public says if someone take advantage of something, then disadvantages will also be borne by him or herself.

  5. Hey girl, you re beautiful girl. Sometime other dark people wish be white. I am white i do wish be dark. I think tan or dark skin are beautiful. I believe natural made from birth.
    Some girls wish her hair color, curly, straight, dark, light, and thick. Everybody different think.
    Just be happy healthy smart and beautiful women. Why judge body??? Need stop!

  6. It is indeed commendable that someone from the very industry that promotes such “love for white/fair skin” has spoken up about colour based discrimination. I say someone categorically because that’s who she is, someone! She’s yet to make a name for herself outside of her father’s shadow. The issue she has raised should be the focus of discussion without any badgering involved. But then again ours is a gossip hungry nation like any other where “we love to throw the baby out with the bathwater”. What’s more important is that it should start a constructive change inducing dialogue.

  7. It’s India and and maybe some of things will never change is the attitude here when the people here in this country aren’t ready to evolve or change their perceptions according to the time and situations this is what we are going to face a whiplash of humiliation and that too not just in our own country even worldwide.
    Skin or colour or religion or caste or creed or anything doesn’t matter when you have heart of gold and here people aren’t yet ready to get over this distribution kind of mentality. Don’t know what century they will get this in their brains. #equality

  8. Poor girl, she should study hard in US and enter the field of education where people are honored based on skills and not on family background, color, facial attributed. Since she has choose a path of Bollywood, nothing wrong in getting some feedback on her looks and beautify standards… These standards were fortified with Bollywood’s love for light skin!

    Wait till its your turn for nepotism heat! Don’t just give up yet.

  9. Many time I thought , our country young generation, day by day adopting good leadership ( a good leader never do discrimination in anyform) but Education and money not bring civilization in some ,still some highly educated group doing description in the name of color , caste and religion.

  10. This is classic nepotism.
    Some silly little post by an unknown kid, whose only qualification is that she is a movie star’s daughter gets headline news at The Print.
    Does anyone really give a sh#t what Suhana Khan says or thinks?

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