I have never felt beautiful. Beauty is still something I struggle with, as do many women and girls. More and more girls are being hospitalized for eating disorders because of society’s perceived beauty standards. And I was just one among the masses. To be honest, I still don’t feel beautiful. No one has ever singled me out for being “ugly” but I never felt beautiful.
How can I when society shams people who are a little on the chubbier side? How can I when society tells us that we should hate our bodies? How can I when society tells us that we should all strive for the perfect body? How can I when society tells us that there is one body type that is superior? How can I when I don’t fit that mold?
I am grateful for parents that raised me to value the mind over the body, but I look into the mirror and all I see is damaged goods. Stretch marks, dark circles, acne, fat, the list goes on. Even when I have makeup on, I don’t feel beautiful. I feel like I’m acting for both the Americans and the Indians. For Americans, my darker skin tone is “exotic”, like I’m some sort of wild animal that needs to be tamed. For Indians, my relatively lighter skin tone is “enough to get me married to a nice guy” — okay I’m exaggerating a little but y’all get the idea. How can I feel beautiful?
I am grateful for friends that make me feel wonderful and loved and are there no matter what. But I look into the mirror, and see how much more I have to lose in specific areas. I pretend to be confident in my skin and looks. I pretend to not give two cents about how others perceive me. And in most cases, I am confident and I don’t care about other people’s opinion of me. But when it comes to my looks, I am silent — when friends jokingly poke my flab, aside from the tickle-induced-laughter, I feel wrong. How can I feel beautiful?
I tell myself that my stretch marks and my scars show that I am a warrior and they tell a story. I chant “warrior warrior” in my head when I don’t feel it, which helps sometimes. (If we change how we perceive ourselves and what we mentally call ourselves, then that’s half of the battle right there.)
I still don’t feel beautiful.
But I’m starting to feel more like a warrior.