This post is part of The Beauty of a Woman BlogFest VII! I am thankful to August McLaughlin for the invite. To read more entries, and potentially win a fun prize, visit the fest page on August’s McLaughlin’s site between today and 11 pm PST March 9th.
“People often say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I say the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder” – Salma Hayek
In the age of social media where likes are subconsciously getting linked to self-esteem, this quote by Salma Hayek reminds us to take a step back and look within. We all have gone through the stages where we felt we are the ugly caterpillar. Even though it is such a remarkable creature. We all wanted to be butterflies without realizing that striking wings evolve when the transformation happens from within. The metamorphosis occurs when the cocoon of our own drawn illusions of beauty and the society’s yardsticks breaks.
Who am I to say that? I am someone who is body-shamed for being skinny. It might be in my genes or my stars but in a land where curvaceous assets are supposed to be the norm, I was always reminded of how I do not look ‘good’. No, I do not suffer from any disease or psychological distress. Nature crafted me that way.
In my growing years, I was told how a draft of wind can blow me away or how dresses on me look like they are hung by the clothes clip. How I should be the one placed instead of a skeleton in the biology lab. How I am not full-bosomed or have curvy posterior without which I will never look ‘sexy’. One so-called friend ‘advised’ me to gain weight because guys like flesh and not bones. The taunts continued at the working place too. The maturity was still low and metabolism was still high. I was the stick, the skeleton, the ugly caterpillar. I grew accustomed to the comments. I never knew the word self-esteem. As a result, I had severe anxiety issues. I never could diagnose that for long. I stopped looking in the mirror. My insecurities made me prone to wrong friendships and relationships where I was visibly vulnerable to all but me.
Life gives us chances to redeem ourselves that often brings an epiphany along with.
I was 25 when a European photographer offered me to model for his project; I was stunned. According to his country, I belonged to the ‘perfect’ statistics. That day brought my epiphany; it is the perception of beauty which is erroneous. One country has fairness as a criterion; another country goes for the artificial tan. The concept itself is an illusion! One might like rose more, doesn’t make lily any less beautiful. It is all a hoax created by us. There is nothing less or more beautiful. Each one of us is a unique creation. It took me a while to understand how outer beauty can be enhanced by working on the inner beauty. Although I politely declined the offer, I expressed my gratitude to him for making me realize one of the most crucial lessons in life.
My journey just began post this incident.
I broke the cocoon of my illusion and unfolded the wings of a butterfly. I began realizing the significance of beauty from deep within. The soulful smile, the kind speech, the compassionate heart, the powerful feet that stand firm against the wrong, the arms which hold the weight and contribute to this world. That is beautiful!
I forgave all those people who judged me how I looked. Not because they asked for it. Because they were either driven by their insecurities or the society. In both the cases, they needed compassion and insight to rise above the ignorance. I needed closure.
And yes, I found people on my journey who loved me for my beauty-deep within.
The comments have not stopped. I still hear them. Sometimes from the roadside Romeos, who apparently have the misconception that they can hurl their mental grime onto every woman they see. The remarks tell me how I do not fit the low standards of their eyes and how I should eat more! Only the scenario has changed. They face the confrontations now from a girl who used to be fragile and scared once. Amazingly, these people flee when I start asking them if they charge for their advice and to show their medical ID.
One lesson was indeed to take power in your own hands.
For you all out there, I urge you to know this. No matter which scale you stand on, as long as you respect your body and take care of it knowing that this body is a gift of nature and a vehicle for your soul, you are beautiful. You are exclusive. Inimitable. Your beauty is unique, and that’s what defines it. Nothing else. No one else.
When we accept the uniqueness of our personality, there is no need to compare ourselves to anyone. Like the example of the rose and lily. Both are beautiful. Celebrate your individuality.
We all have encountered bad experiences in our lives. Each experience, over time, forced us to build walls around us. We closed our hearts towards many things around us even though we never intended to. Open your heart to the emotion of love. Love the beautiful nature, love animals and love yourself. Do what you love. Create something of your own. Scribble, doodle, paint, write, dance. This energy of love towards yourself is what will open your consciousness. It is an eternal joyful path from here.
It was after I chose to become aware of compassion inside me, outside me, for me and the world around me, that I was able to begin the journey within.
Be beautiful, inside out!
May the radiance of your internal beauty outspreads in all directions!