All needn’t be fair in love and war, young people across 600 Indian cities and towns are saying this Valentine’s Day. Even as sales of fairness creams skyrocket, 62.9 per cent of over 2,000 respondents of a shaadi.com survey on partner preferences say they either don’t want a fair spouse or don’t care what his or her skin tone is.
Busting the myth that fair-complexioned women have the best matrimonial prospects, more than half of the male respondents said their prospective wife’s skin colour doesn’t matter to them. Mumbai emerged the least colour-conscious of all the metros in the survey conducted between December 2007 and January 2008, with 86 per cent women and 67 per cent men not showing a preference for fair partners. “Five years ago, I would have gone for a fair girlfriend. But now, I would rather have an understanding wife, even if she is dark. And who says a dark woman can’t look good? A dark woman with sharp features looks better than a fair one with dull features,” says Mumbaiite Akshay Goel, 26, a dotcom product manager.
Commenting on the changing complexion of the matrimonial market, Vibhas Mehta, shaadi.com’s business head, says, “Our respondents – from Tier I and II towns as well as smaller ones like Deoghar, Amroha, Bharuch, and Haridwar – help us negate the belief that a woman’s complexion is crucial for her to get married.”
Men in Delhi emerged among the most ‘unfair’, with more than half wanting fair wives. In contrast, eight out of 10 Delhi women are indifferent to colour. “I want a fair-natured guy, not a fair-complexioned one,” explains Nidhi, 26, a customer care executive. Chennai, too, is hooked to the idea of a fair spouse, with 58.8 per cent men and 33.3 per cent women going for lighter skin tones.
Nearly half of the respondents are open to marrying out of caste. While Delhi welcomes inter-caste marriages the most, Bangalore is the most conservative, with 41.8 per cent men and 46.5 per cent of women wedded to the idea of a same-caste partner.
The survey throws up some bad news for horoscope matchers: respondents say their decision to marry isn’t influenced by what the stars foretell.