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Last summer, I was on a date with a 20-something man we’ll call Trent. I had been explaining how my parents met and married through an arrangement, something that’s common in South Asian culture.At first, conversation flowed—we talked careers, food, travel, friends, family. He didn’t quite follow, which is understandable, so I tried to explain: “It’s a cultural tradition.” “They define love and marriage differently than the American way.” “It may not be for you or me, but it was for them,” etc.The lack of space for brown women within the “white princess” trope, as argues, only serves to perpetuate Hollywood’s misogynist, misguided view of people of colour and their role in interracial relationships, centering whiteness as the gold standard.Brown men cannot choose who to fall in love with, but they can, however, choose who to write into scripts.The answer lies within seemingly progressive interracial romantic narratives within both Bollywood and Hollywood media.The media’s portrayal of brown men yearning to date white women ultimately amounts to our erasure; while brown women are largely relegated to stereotypical roles, or unimportant caricatures lacking complexity, white women take centre stage.
In the last few years, when I started working—and therefore spending most of my time—in an office where I am one of a few people of colour, I realized I’ve been gravitating towards more diverse circles on the evenings and weekends as if those spaces are water and I’m dehydrated.The industries’ obsession with white bodies is undeniable, as seen in the prevalence of white (or white-passing) bodies cast as main female leads.Not only does this uphold colourism, as brown women (and men) who are white proximate are those that are sought after; it also contributes to a larger system of racist white supremacy that reinforces the notion that whiteness is central to desirability.We know the issue of the caste system, and the idea that higher castes comprise light-skinned folks, is symptomatic of colourism disseminated by the British in India.But whilst Bollywood and Hollywood hold the political power to influence this, they still popularise and distribute images that glorify white-proximity and whiteness, deeming some bodies palatable and acceptable to the male gaze, while others are tossed to the periphery.