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India

India's Disturbing Obsession With Fair Skin

India's entertainment industry casts people with dark skin as cursed and low class, an idea the culture has strongly, if sadly, embraced. The only winner is the cosmetics industry.

Screenshot from skin whitening Zyada ad
Screenshot from skin whitening Zyada ad
Hubert Prolongeau

MUMBAI — Nina is sitting at a table in Coffee Day, a popular café with Mumbai students. As her friends arrive, they join her and order iced coffee drinks and donuts. Nearby, the cinema Eros is screening a current hit movie called R... Rajkumar, a Bollywood film directed by Prabhu Dheva and featuring two rising stars: Shahid Kapoor and Sonakshi Sinha. Both are beautiful, merry, in love and … fair-skinned.

Nina's skin is rather dark. "I have an aunt who could not stop offering me some whitening cream," she says. "One day I told her that I had seen her applying this cream on her skin for 20 years and that there were no significant changes." Painful memories come to her. "I always knew I was dark-colored. At school, white little girls were chosen to represent the class. One of my teachers even said to me that I was good but too black."

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Coronavirus

The Main COVID Risk Now: Long COVID

Death rates are down, masks are off, but many who have been infected by COVID have still not recovered. Long COVID continues to be hard to diagnose and treatments are still in the developmental stage.

Long COVID feels like a never-ending nightmare for those who suffer from it.

Jessica Berthereau

PARIS — The medical examination took longer than expected in the Parc de Castelnau-le-Lez clinic, near the southern French city of Montpellier. Jocelyne had come to see a specialist for long COVID-19, and exits the appointment slowly with help from her son. The meeting lasted more than an hour, twice as long as planned.

“I’m a fighter, you know, I’ve done a lot of things in my life, I’ve been around the world twice… I’m not saying this to brag, but to tell you my background," says the 40-year-old. "These days, I’m exhausted, I’m not hungry, I no longer drive, I can’t work anymore, I have restless legs syndrome.” She pauses before adding sadly: “I can’t read anymore either.”

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