There is an exquisitely rich range of skin color in India: ebony black, tawny brown, olive, honey gold, wheat, pale tan, golden copper, almost-white.
Sadly, the skin color that is valued the most is white.
While in the U.S. it's tanning salons and creams that are big business, here it's "fair and lovely" soaps and "return to whiteness" skin-lightening creams.
"If the skin is white, it is love at first sight."
--Ancient Indian proverb
Light color symbolizes status and success. The majority of the ads in the Brides Wanted section of the newspaper are looking for "fair" or "wheatish" brides.
To me, my pale skin sometimes feels more like a detriment, which elicits stares and a "skin tax" from unscrupulous vendors.
I walk into a home where a sweet-looking dark-skinned little boy is standing. He stares at me for a moment and then runs to his mother, pointing at me and saying something in Tamil. "I want a complexion like hers," someone translates for me, and I feel sad that this beautiful child has already learned to feel ashamed of his skin.