Growing up being a caramel coloured skin South Asian with a mother that looks middle-eastern, doesn’t always put you in the most comfortable position in society. Is she your daughter? Really? She doesn’t look much like her sister! Oh well, she probably resembles her dad. If I had a dollar for every time I heard those lines, I’d probably have my own version of “Keeping up with Shanzah” by now.
Throughout the years as I’ve lived in Thorncliffe , I’ve realized that shadeism is a huge, huge problem but to the eyes of the world, it isn’t considered an “issue.” A few girls from the neighbouring community Flemington, decided to take action and do something about it which I really admire. They made an incredible documentary to get people aware about the issue and open their eyes to the bigger picture.
On Saturday November 21 2015, the GEM team planned for us to see a private screening of Shadeism: Digging Deeper at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Yes, this is the same TIFF that all of us have been yearning to go to. This private screening was exclusive to GEM girls only! I mean how often does that happen?
Before the event started, everyone got time to socialize amongst themselves and meet each other’s mentors. During all of this, I heard a lot about what the girls thought the film was going to be about. “Shadeism, definitely, is something we don’t hear a lot about. I believe people need to get over the idea that being a certain shade of a certain colour will make them better. I can’t wait to go in!” said Hira D. The screening itself had everyone excited and obviously popcorn was a plus because who doesn’t like snacks?
This documentary really got to me and I connected to it on so many levels. I always thought shadeism worked in a way where the majority thought “the whiter, the better” but I noticed in one of the cultures, being fair skinned was a problem as it is believed that the darker the woman, the more successful she’ll be.
The last few minutes were like a confidence booster because of the advice given from all the women in the film and not just because of being a woman of colour but being a woman in general. The following quote by Alexandra Elle was one of the greatest things I took away from the film:
“Our melanin will always make us marvelous. Just imagine what the sea of sisterhood would look like. Magic!”