Colouring the Narrative: raising awareness of colourism in India through film

Birma story on colourism

Today we are releasing three new animations to raise awareness of colourism and the skin-lightening industry in India.

Colourism is the concept that lighter skin is more desirable and that having lighter skin will lead to more success.

The films bring attention to the serious public health problem of colourism and the skin-lightening industry in India and help drive change.

The first film tells the story of Shistu, a young medical intern in a public hospital in India who is struck with grief as young brides in a nearby town suffer “accidental deaths” as a result of bias against their dark skin shade.

The second film illustrates the story of Birma, a lawyer and newspaper columnist, who challenges the issue of colourism on public platforms, arguing that the cultural obsession with marriage and “fair” skin is regressive.

Finally, the third film narrates the experience of a high-school student, Raagam, whose teacher leads his class to examine colourism in their own lives and challenges youth to question their own biases and speak out against colourism.

The three films were produced by Medical Aid Films in collaboration with STRIPED, the Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders: A Public Health Incubator, a research and training program based at the Harvard TH Chan Public School of Health and Boston Children’s Hospital. The animations are part of a new e-course developed by STRIPED for health professionals who work with young people in India.

To support the Colouring the Narrative campaign visit Dark is Beautiful, a website set up by the NGO Women of Worth.

Watch and share the films in a dedicated YouTube playlist: