I have never been quite as intimidated by an inanimate object as I am by the little bottle sitting on my bathroom countertop. It had arrived, along with a flood of other unfamiliar toiletries, in my cousin’s bag this morning. The bottle is only a couple of inches high and the words “Fair and Lovely” are written across the top in friendly, pink script. An ambiguously ethnic girl smiles on the front. Behind her grinning mug is a picture of the same girl, minus the idiotic grin but plus a whole hell of a lot more melanin. “Smear me all over your face,” the bottle demands rudely. “Then maybe you can be white – pretty – and happy, too.”
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