For all the vagueness in the choice of words in Indian English, Desis have a well defined set of words to describe the color of skin. Matrimonial sites routinely ask the applicant to mention if his or her skin is “Very fair“, “Fair“, “Wheatish“, “Wheatish-brown” or “dark” ( You are not the only one reminded of likert scale. Also note, only ONE of the five words actually says dark).
Desis love lighter skin complexion. Anything you make/sell realize this love is bound to make you richer. For example, the most compelling feature google has provided in its picture managing software Picasa , is something called ‘fill light’. ‘Fill light’ makes dark pictures look bright and clean, making them ready for uploading to orkut.
Matrimonial websites are another illustration of this huge importance of lighter skin. “A tall dark handsome doctor” is likely to get lesser attention than “A not-so-tall BUT-FAIR non-doctor.” If you are a matrimonial website, you are promised a 10-fold increase in success rates, simply by making pictures of all your members glow brightly (just like the ones on TV ads).
One of the first reactions, desis hear when visiting folks back home, is a value judgment of how “fair” they have “grown” since the last visit. A trip to the US/UK may be deemed to be a huge failure if the visiting desi doesn’t show a significant improvement in his or her skin complexion.
NBC sitcom, The Office immortalizes this love for fair skin in their Diwali episode. Michael Scott walks in with his white girl friend. Kelly’s desi mom compliments that she is very fair. Scott replies, “She is very fair. Very fair and very kind.” So, if you are an unemployed WHITE actor or writer in Los Angeles or New York, know that there is a whole world of desis and Bollywood waiting there out for you !!