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“Mirror, Mirror Upon the Wall, Who is the Fairest of All?”
You know that phrase “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”? Yes, it seems so wonderful at first but what if the beholder isn’t exactly the right one? What if the beholder is blind or jealous or prettier than you or is simply your mother? Even worse, what if the beholder is your own self?
Let’s admit it. There are bound to be things about our body that we love just about as much as the 101 Dalmatians love Cruella de Vil. We’re XX chromosome people – and XX chromosome people ALWAYS have self-image issues, be they 14 or 45. A little kid who does not understand the meaning of the proverb “Grass is greener on the other side” should be directed to the nearest woman standing in the room and if he listens to the kind of self-loathing talk that goes on in her head, he’ll understand what that phrase is all about. Let’s not sugar coat it. A woman is always interested in her body-image. Sure, she may be very passionate about books or languages or microbes or parallelograms or the brains of a Rhesus monkey or the Pre-Raphaelites or polar geology or semiconductors or financial trading – and yet she is fundamentally and always interested in how she looks.
Actually, we don’t even do it intentionally. It’s just in our DNA to look at another person (usually another woman) and do one (or even all) of these things:
a.) Internally groan and feel jealous of her legs/figure.
b.) Marvel at her skin and decide to blow up enough money to feed a small African nation at that fancy skin clinic.
c.) Scoff at her seemingly “inferior” skin/clothes/body and feel smug.
d.) Hate her guts for being so pretty, funny, positive, and intelligent at the same time, and then proceed to indulge in some obsessive self-loathing involving Shah Rukh Khan movies and criminal amounts of
That’s how it works and we ALL do it. If you believe that even Aishwarya Rai doesn’t look in the mirror and sometimes think, “Man, I wish I had a flatter tummy,” you’re wrong. No, wait, her pregnancy and the subsequent kid just made the biggest news after Osama’s death, right? Oh well, slash Ash. Let’s take Katrina Kaif, and her belly woes then. I am QUITE sure that she has thought of it at least once in her lifetime, and no, I am not talking about her pre-Boom too-huge-for-a-model days. I’m talking about looking-ridiculously-hot-in-orange-jeans Dhunki days. Anyhoo, you get my point.
The sadly important thing is that whatever fairy that governs self-image was left uninvited at the christenings of all women on this planet. Can’t speak for those chicks in Avatar but come on, they’re BLUE, they would have more self-image issues that the most depressed of our earthling lot put together.
No, this is not a long weepy story to feel sorry for the stars of a super hit movie. It’s just a rather long post-it note to remind all the readers to cut themselves a little slack.
To write this post, I actually thought all of the things that have bothered me about my physical appearance in the past. Let me confess and reveal my own examination:
1.) My Nose:
It’s been one of my biggest insecurities. I was lucky at first to take after my father’s family where everyone has straight, well-sculpted noses. Now, I am amongst the youngest in the family and I only had two cousins (who were exactly my age) as my sole playmates during summer. Both were boys and so, I’ve grown up climbing trees, playing battleship and GI Joe, trying out fake martial arts moves, roaming out in the sun all day, and also being pummelled to a pulp during a fight. I was 7 when I was pushed off a flight of stairs by Mad Cousin #1 in retaliation to a kick and two years later, Mad Cousin #2 punched my face a little too hard during a fight. Both times, I hurt my nose pretty seriously and bled like a haemophiliac. Apparently, the injuries crooked my nose by 0.001%, but I noticed it only because my cousins teased me for the next couple of years for carrying that battle scar. The teasing stopped eventually but my insecurity never went away.
As I grew older, I was actually complimented on my nose but I always thought that people were being sweet to a badly-in-need-of-a-nose-job girl. Then, I dated this guy for nearly two years who claimed that he could see nothing wrong with my nose at all, but I told myself that he was too gormless to criticise me. It’s amazing how easily we can make excuses to feed our own insecurities. Finally, I noticed that my friends never made fun of my nose and it DEFINITELY wasn’t out of love for me because no one would leave such a chance to laugh at a friend. When confronted, they told me that they thought my nose was fine, but they have since decided to prey on my insecurity and call me crook-nosed Dumbledore now (not exactly an insult since Dumbledore was AWESOMENESS personified!).
After all these years and endless agonising in front of the mirror, I have finally decided that I do not care about the 1/1000th of an inch’s crookedness in my nose anymore. It’s not half as bad as that of ten thousand other people I know and as for the “problem” with it, it has good childhood memories attached to it, right? 😀
2.) My Height:
Ah, my height. The bloody bane of my whole existence. At 5’2”, I have been laughed at by my tall family and my unusually tall friends. My mum still blames it on my childhood habit of pouring my Bournvita milk down the drain sometimes, and it has tormented me quite a lot to be so petite. I was simply ecstatic when I moved to France and the whole population there seemed to be full of kindred spirits simply for being so vertically challenged.
Recently, I was thinking about my grandma (who died 6 years ago) and noticed that I inherited my obsessions for reading, singing, stupid jokes, and food from her. Apparently, we resemble a lot in other things too. She was barely 5 feet tall and I have realised that my height makes me her grandchild in the way nothing else can. I now believe that I can live with my height quite happily and blow up money on gorgeously killer heels instead. 😛
3.) My Eyes:
I have a very ordinary-looking pair of those. My brother has beautiful, large eyes that have always turned me green with envy. My closest friend has Bambi-like hazel eyes and super long eyelashes that any girl would die three times over to have. I HATED guys with pretty eyes. Yes, a part of me hated my brother and my closest friend too. Really, what use would lovely eyes be to them? Guys don’t need to look pretty! I have also lost count of the number of times I have stared enviously at doe-eyed girls and blamed some obscure ancestors for passing on their ordinary-eye-genes on to me.
Then, a few years ago, I was ranting against something very minor to a friend and she burst out laughing saying that my eyes actually flashed every time I was angry. I’ve had random people compliment me that I am very expressive all because I engage other things besides my mouth while talking, my hands gesture quite a lot and my eyes express my contempt/amusement/anger/ridicule etc. There is this girl in my class who is quite pretty and has a gorgeous pair of doe eyes. However, I’ve never seen her laughter reach her eyes and I’ve never seen her eyes talk along with her mouth. Sure, I am still jealous of doe-eyed beauties with expressiveness to boot, but I don’t mind my eyes so terribly now that I know that they don’t look like they belong to a brain dead zombie.
4.) My Build:
If my height has given me cranky days, it is nothing compared to my body woes. I have a small frame and I HATE it when curvy girls whine about their weight issues because I could kill to be a few kilos heavier. The only thing that has saved me from being labelled anorexic is my normal health and my habit of stuffing myself with food everywhere I go.
Combined with my height and short hair, my tiny frame makes me look a lot younger than my age. I am 21 and I have been taken for a school kid. However, I have realised that if my luck stays the same, I will be in a very good position ten years from now and can claim to be only 25. 😛 On the negative side though, 17-year old guys still hit on me and this is not something that I take very benignly to.
To be honest, I still have those days sometimes when I don’t feel “pretty.” I think we all do. However, what I meant to say through all this is that I’m learning to stop having a private pity party about my so-called “flaws” and accept that some things can not be changed. I once read that people view us as 20% more attractive than we think we are which means that the “flaws” that we believe we have are barely noticed by others. We truly are our own worst critics.
I have also learnt that the things you hate about yourself can ALL be seen in a positive light. Most of the times, it works. Except in the case of acne perhaps. You can’t call yourself a science mini volcano project and soothe your soul. However, what you CAN do is work on your skin and make it improve with time.
Anyway, a quirky or unique look is much more beautiful than having a standard face which doesn’t stand out from thousands of other girls. In fact, I believe that if I changed a feature that makes me distinctive, I would feel less “myself.” I like the feeling of being able to claim a flaw as distinctively mine – I’d rather make it part of my identity than make it more aesthetically pleasing. For the most part, I believe that being interesting is so much better than being flawless. 😉
However, I know that even accepting flaws can be tough sometimes. Shift the perspective then. I remember reading somewhere that we should stop worrying about what our body looks like but focus on all the things that it can do instead. If someone makes fun of your frizzy hair or stumpy legs or a less-than-perfect nose, it’s easier to get over it when you remember you can use inject monkey brains with experimental hormones or give a brilliant Kuchipudi performance or write a killer essay on the Rise and Fall of Socialism or run a marathon or cook a mean chocolate cappuccino cake or speak seven obscure languages or simply look at a supermodel and recreate her make-up look or do anything that you love and want to do. The way your body looks has VERY little to do with who or what you are.
This post is not meant to pooh-pooh the concept of beauty and make-up. My sole aim was to rake out an issue that usually never gets talked about in the race to find the “next best thing” to correct our so-called imperfections. Sure, staying and feeling beautiful is extremely important – I spend quite some time on that myself. What is not important; however, is an unhealthy obsession for that elusive perfection and a constant self-berating attitude.
I am pretty certain that most IMBB readers have battled some self-image issue or the other in their lives. So, how do you deal with it? Have you ever considered your physical appearance to be of paramount importance to your peace of mind? How have you dealt with other people commenting on or making fun of your appearance? Have you broken their noses or simply learn to love your own? ‘Fess up and feel lighter! 🙂
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