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Being dark skinned= Don't deserve to be loved?

The song "Libaas" by Kaka, who is an Indian singer, became a tiktok and instagram sensation when it was released in late 2020. With influencers and bloggers endorsing this song in their videos, it was played everywhere from restaurants to Uber rides and even people setting it as their ringtone. Now let's unpack why this "such a popular" song is "such a problematic" song as well.

The song starts with how Kaka, a dark skinned person, is neighbour to a woman he likes but the woman constantly ignores him because he has dark skin and instead spends time with men who are fair skinned. The lead character (Kaka) starts feeling problems of low self esteem and confidence and looks at the girl with desire and longing where he knows he is not good enough for her. The issue of colorism and confining beauty to a particular standard and appearance of men is the main theme of this song. Added to this is the factor that how men who do not fulfil these standards are ugly and worthless and do not deserve love.


However, more than the video of the song, the lyrics are problematic. The main lyric of the song which is repeated throughout is most problematic and is as follows:


"kaalay jai libaas di shokeen kurri"

"doour doour jaye mere kaalay rang te"


These lyrics show how the girl likes everything dark (black), be it her own dress, her bike, or her laptop but not dark skin. Kaka is just reduced to some dark object which the girl does not like. The song is around 4.5 minutes long and mocking dark skin is a continuous theme in it.


Given how much popularity this song had on tiktok and how it was popular in India and Pakistan where people have olive and tan skin tone, this song played a huge part in furthering how either dark skinned men have to use fairness creams to "become handsome" or if they are lucky enough, they will get the female attention because the female may feel pity for them in the end, like it happened in this song. Emphasising the need to gain external validation for men from women and defining "handsomeness", which is not something definable, is seen as a recurring undertone in this song.



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11 Comments


As a nation, i feel we have this unfortunate problem of attaching beauty to the color white. Children who are born fair are treated as God sends while those who are darker are treated as a burden. It manifests itself in small social indicators that end up being extremely detrimental for a child's self-image and confidence

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Thank you for talking about this! I think very largely the issues with beauty standards for men are pushed aside and this is definitely unfortunate that brown people alike are this discriminatory

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Replying to

Yess, true and sad :(

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Brilliantly written Laiba!

Being a somewhat dark skinned individual myself, I can totally relate to this and have experienced the discrimination first hand. Euro-centric beauty standards are deeply rooted in our society and someone who does not conform to those is automatically lesser of a human being. After all the constant jokes about one's skin tone, it becomes an identifier of sorts which is wrong at so many levels. This blog made me think about this dhaaba on Walton Road, Lahore called "Kaala Chaye Wala" which I guess shows how the owner now identifies himself with the same words used to put him down throughout his life.

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Yes, I completely agree with you on how these jokes on skin tone are literally experienced by almost every one of us, given that most people in Pakistan have a tannish, brown skin tone (which is beautiful btw). And yes, like the eg you gave, most people have absorbed and internalised all these comments and have started to identify themselves with them.

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Syed Haris Ali
Syed Haris Ali
Jul 06, 2021

Yes this true. The dark colour and obsession with fair skin tone is so common in Indo-Pak that even in Dramas and films the hiring of the actors is also done based on skin tone. I remember a song "Kala Shah Kala" that was so famous also circulates around the skin tone. Similarly, "Chittian Kalayian" as well.

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Yes, these are very pertinent examples that you gave. Additionally, Men’s whitening creams and face washes are also a full fledge industry but no one really talks about how problematic it is.

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So true! When I even listened to the song I was like what is he actually saying??? Have no idea when the obsession will end for fairness and all. This is an important topic that needed to be touched. Well written 🙌🏾 Something is popular doesn’t means it’s not problematic.

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Yes, and given how much popularity this song gained and how quickly people in Pakistan and India get influenced, the problem gets intensified.

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