Model and actor Amna Ilyas revealed that she struggled with ostracism in the industry for darker skin tone — and how deep the rot goes.
In an interview with BBC Urdu, the Baaji actor said, “When I did lawn campaigns, for instance, the makeup artists would make me two tones lighter because the client would tell them to make me fairer. Then, they would Photoshop and airbrush the pictures.”
“Sometimes, I’d see the final pictures and think, ‘That’s not me.’”
“In the drama serials I worked on, I would often overhear directors on set say my skin tone doesn’t ‘match’ with the other actors in the frame. I found that very strange; of course they don’t match, because there are different people, each with their own personalities and skin. How can they ‘match’?”
But the struggle started long before that.
“When I was growing up, my aunts and cousins would always make snide comments that, ‘Oh, she’s got a tan because she goes to school. You should use lemon juice and gram flour on your face for a “glow” and “beautiful” skin.’”
“People don’t realise how sensitive this is and what kind of impact it can leave on someone’s mind.”
Ilyas was also not afraid to own her past. “There was a time when I was also using fairness creams. Then, I realised — that’s not okay. You should have healthy skin instead.”
“I did a fairness cream ad, and while I was doing that ad, I realised that this not me. After that, I decided I wouldn’t be a part of anything that made me uncomfortable or sell a lie.”
“There’s a standard of beauty that our society has set which it considers the only way to be beautiful — large, almond eyes, dark, waist-length hair, milky white skin,” she added.
“The top five TV heroines are extremely fair-skinned — and those who weren’t [fair to begin with] have made themselves fairer to be a part of that race. I want that girls with my complexion, who are considered ‘too thin’ or ‘too dark’, shouldn't consider themselves ugly.”