“Lockdown has been a mixed bag. I had the time to understand what I want to do and it helped me clean up the mess that you don’t see typically,” says fashion designer Masaba Gupta, who believes that “fashion is at the bottom of the food chain”. She also adds that these times have been a little unnerving as there is a lot of uncertainty in the fashion industry. “I don’t really know where do we all stand. Even if things pick up, fashion is not going to be the first thing,” she adds.
Gupta, who believes that things will change in the fashion industry for the better, raises concern of racial discrimination in the society today. When asked her about the recent campaign of Black Lives Matter in the US and all over the world, she says, “Can we first take care of our ‘brown lives matter’ in India and then worry about the US? I find it bizarre that racism that is done so far away from home it is creating such an uproar. Look at the kind of racism people who are dark skinned in our country has to face. The thing with us Indians is that if you say it ‘aise hi mazaak mein’, you think it will pass. In our culture the idea of being fair-skinned is related to success. And we think that is the truth.”
She further adds, “Unfortunately, the beauty, fashion and Bollywood industry are to be blamed. How many times do you hear that you have to be fair skinned to land a certain role or an advertisement? It is easier for us to speak because it is not happening in our backyard. I had a really tough time in school. Everyone used to be like, ‘oh my god! Why do you keep talking about it? It is not a big deal’. The fact of the matter is that it is a big deal. I grew up thinking I was inferior to white-skinned people. And as a child if you are conditioned like this, it becomes a part of your upbringing that you believe that probably because I look like this, I won’t get anywhere in life.”
So, how according to her can we deal with racism in our society? “On a common person’s level, you should not let anything pass you have to pull people up. However, I still don’t think that is the solution, because I believe we are a country where we think something is going to change when a Bollywood star or a cricketer come out and say, ‘you don’t have to fair skinned to be successful’. We don’t have any other heroes in our country. I am a designer nobody is going to give a damn about me. I am talking about actors who are veterans and if they come out and speak about it, then things might change,” she signs off.