“Seriously? Why are you wearing this color? It totally doesn’t go with your complexion.”
“You look so pale. Why don’t you try tanning?”
“No no, don’t eat that! You want to burst now?”
“Holy Jesus! Are you suffering from anorexia or something?”
“Why don’t you try skipping or basketball? Or maybe stick to heels all the time?”
“You’re already tall, why are you still wearing heels? You look like a lamp-post with them on.”
Have you been picked on your appearance before? Ever?
If ‘YES’… Hello Jolie/Tom. What’s up?
If ‘NO’… Welcome aboard mate!
“BODY SHAMING” is creating quite a buzz already. I do not have to add to that. Nor am I going to jam up this space with ‘inspirational quotes’. Come on! I ain’t no Tumblr, bro. Then where is this write-up even heading to?
Well, I am sharing my story, which had dragged me into believing that BEAUTY HAS A DEFINITION, IN WHICH I DO NOT FIT IN.
Like everybody else, I wanted to believe that I am beautiful. I wanted to believe, that my dusky color would not be considered “A DRAWBACK”. But the society wanted to believe something else. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally, I have often been fed the idea that I am never going to be pretty enough. Yeah, I know the mentalities are changing these days, and there’s much more to a person than their color or measurements. But amidst all the liberalism, there is full-fledged body shaming prevalent. Rather, “sugar-coated body shaming”.
If you read my previous blog, you must be knowing that I wanted to grow up, to be an actor, but at the same time dreaded speaking about it. Not without a reason, though.
So, I have acted in a few TV serials in my childhood, which I was obviously very proud of as a kid of STD IV. People were quite appreciative of it, and the best thing back then was that, I became one of the ‘COOL KIDS’ at school. Ha-ha.
The next year, in STD V, I moved into a different country, in a different school. On the very first day I was asked by my teacher to introduce myself to the class. I spoke about myself, my hobbies, interests and made sure to add about my first ‘big accomplishment’. As soon as I said, “I have done a few TV serials, and want to be an actor when I grow up”, there was burst of laughter in the class. I was shocked by this unexpected response. A guy chuckled, “Really? Bengali actors look like that?” Still clueless of being called ugly, I said, “Yeah, what’s wrong with me?” The teacher hushed the class, and asked them to be a little sensitive. I went back to my seat, still wondering what was so funny. I did not know back then about the notion that no matter you have talent or not, if you don’t fit into the stereotypical idea of ‘BEAUTY’ you cannot be on TV; Nor did I know that beauty lies in your color and measures. So this was my first encounter with “BEING UGLY”.
That very year on returning to India, for summers, I visited my paternal grandparents. Well, let me clarify this in the very first place- My paternal grandparents do not like us! And by us, I mean Mum, my brother and me. Why? Because Papa opted for love-marriage. Yeah. Anyway, so grandma was introducing me to her neighbors, when one of them said,”She looks so pretty” to which my grandma replied, “Where do you see any prettiness? She is so dark.” I was taken aback. I was just an eleven year old, being told that my color made me ugly.
This was just the beginning. I started getting conscious about my color. The humiliation grew, so did my inferiority complex. But what affected me the most were the instances where the ones close to me would make comments regarding my appearance.
It continued. Things got worse, I started hating myself in my early teens. But soon got used to it.
It has been years now, and I have grown up. The taunts haven’t really stopped yet, but have acquired that sugarcoat I was talking about. To pull up a recent incident, I won some ‘trivial’ beauty contest a few months back. I did not tell anybody at school about it, as I feared being a joke again. In spite of me making sure to not mention it, some of my classmates came to know from I don’t know where. So, this group obviously had a good gossip over it and I was laughed at, on my face. I was even asked things like, “HOW DID YOU MANAGE WINNING IT?”, “WERE THERE NO OTHER PARTICIPANTS?” and “YOU ACTUALLY DID WIN THAT? NOT KIDDING RIGHT?” Yeah, mean much? Nah, because I was later informed that all these insults were only in “GOOD HUMOR”. Totally!
A few people also live with this opinion, “CHAN WEARS PROVOCATIVE CLOTHES, TO GRAB ATTENTION WHEN HER FACE FAILS TO DO SO.” Yeah, I have heard this not once, but quite a number of times.
Words can hurt, especially when you are targeted for something you’re not in control of- your color or body type. I had reached such a low point of self-esteem that whenever I got a compliment, I would start stressing myself over “Was it mere sarcasm?” “Was it out of sympathy?”, instead of feeling appreciated. I could not accept compliments without feeling I’m being lied to.
But what I feared the most was, letting them know that I’m affected by this. So I started pulling off this air of confidence. I tried to believe I AM BEAUTIFUL DESPITE MY COLOR AND SHAPE, instead of doubting myself each time I heard things like that.
One thing I have learnt over the years is – PEOPLE BELIEVE IN BELIEFS. All the time. It’s all in our heads. Once you start believing in yourself, it won’t be long since they believe in your belief. Why doubt yourself, when you can make them doubt their impressions of you? Until and unless you yourself accept your body, your skin, your imperfections… How do you expect anybody else to? Look, there are always people who would push you down to appear bigger. When they can push it into your mind that you’re never gonna be good enough… Why can you not push it into their brains that “YES, I AM CONFIDENT IN MY BODY. I AM CONFIDENT BEING MYSELF”.By this, you’re not acting superior to anybody, but to that sick image of yours which they’ve got in their heads.
It took me a lot of courage to write about this, but now that I have written about it I am no longer afraid. All what I am is CONFIDENT INSIDE OUT. Peace.