1) Cocos nucifera, a drupacious palm fruit endemic to South India
2) an American born Indian who's brown on the outside, white on the inside, exploring his tender core, and exposing his nutty shell


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Nov 8, 2009

"I like my Women like my Laptops-Light and Slim"

White Skin and Size Zero Sells in India

How often do you find an Indian with lighter skin tone than a Japanese? When it comes to product marketing and the Indian media, more often than is statistically likely.

                                                          Image from Getty Images.
Bollywood Actress Kareena Kapoor (right) and Managing Director of Sony India Masaru Tamagawa  (left) pose with Sony's lightest weight and ultra slim VAIO X notebook after the launch in New Delhi on November 3, 2009. This notebook is a half-inch thin and 655 grams and is being marketed as a size Zero.

“I am proud to be India’s size Zero.” News4u-Entertainment Desk reports Kareena saying “I only lend my name to a brand that is suitable to my personality type. Vaio X is slim, stylish and sexy, something that I easily relate with.”
     “I think in India, size zero means being slim. Every girl wants to be really slim and I think I am quite slim. India’s size zero is associated with me and I am proud of that,” said Kareena who has often denied being the size zero according to international standards. The 27-year-old actress hit headlines when she lost eight kilograms to acquire a bikini body for the 2007 film ‘Tashan’. Though the film flopped at the box office, Kareena’s thin figure became the talk of the country, sparking a size zero trend in India.
     If Indian men aren’t already telling their friends the following, such media is only likely to encourage it: “I like my women like my laptops-light and slim.”

I’ve always been frustrated seeing Billboards in developing countries where the women are absurdly thinner and whiter than the actual local population. This soft cultural hegemony infiltrates the minds of the young and old redefining beauty and in some instances leading to pathologically low self-esteem and eating disorders. When I scan the Indian newspaper matrimonial sections (not for myself, for cultural research purposes I swear!), I frequently find “fair-skinned” as mandatory inclusion criteria.  

If we conducted a study were we used a photospectrometer or some melanin detection device to quantify the lightness of a person’s skin, we would see that the stars who grace the magazine covers and Bollywood films are several standard deviations away from the average Indian. India’s largest cultural export, Bollywood films, is a gross misrepresentation of the average Indian, but perhaps the same can be said of many industries.  Tobacco companies have long used "light and slim" in association with women to market cigarettes. For some reason, living in Tamil Nadu where people are dark skinned, and seeing “India” exported through film, advertising, and beauty pageants I struggle with how this country “sells” its beauty and skin color. Having lived in Latin America, I am used to people being typecasted into “blanca” “morena” or “negra” based on minute differences in skin tone. However, the exported image of India seems more out of touch with the reality of India.

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