Pria Warrick, a former Miss India who now runs a finishing school for women in Delhi, says India is still struggling to get over its colonial past.
"We, of course, in India are very obsessed with being very fair. I think it's something the British left us with," Warrick says.
Warrick tells me she is convinced that India needs someone like Oprah Winfrey to do for Indian women what the star did for black women in America -- to make Indians proud of their culture, their heritage, their looks.
She also blames the infiltration of U.S. culture for making Indian society so focused on physical beauty.
"American culture places a lot of importance on looks," she says.
Indians stand at a crossroads, Warrick says. "How much do we pick up from the West?"
Some Indians are trying to reverse the movement to be fair. Actor Nandita Das has lent her face to the "Dark is Beautiful" campaign, trying to foment change.
"The point is do we want to capitalize this prejudice and lack of self worth and further perpetuate it," Das says in the campaign, "or do we want to address it in a way and empower more women and make them feel good in the way they are?"
Back at the Delhi mall, Jai Shukla, 31, says it's a shame Indians are so obsessed with skin tones. "I think mentally, we are not free," he says, admitting that he once tried lightening creams on his own chocolate skin.
He says he used to teach Hindi to Westerners at the posh Imperial Hotel in Delhi. Sometimes, the guards assumed he was a laborer. He says he was a victim of profiling because of his dark complexion. He tried skin-lightening creams but gave it all up once he began to gain more confidence in himself.
Rajat Tyagi, 28, rattles off a list of actresses he says personify his ideal of beauty: Kate Winslett, Angelina Jolie and Indian actor Katrina Kaif, who is light-skinned. But Tygai goes against the grain. When it comes to marrying someone, he says, he won't care if she is white, brown or black.
It's what inside that matters, he says.
"Really?" I ask him.
"Really," he says.
I didn't know whether to believe him, especially in the midst of the retail madness of this Delhi mall. His answer is cliche. But I am glad he said it.