I last played Holi when I was a child, about 9 years of age. On that last Holi, someone smeared on my face, some colour or chemical, which burnt up the left side of my face, and left it oversensitive for the rest of my life. To this day, I cannot play Holi or apply most creams or cosmetics to my face, without irritating it.
To grow up with a section of one’s face looking red and raw is harrowing. I once had a concerned teacher in college ask me if I was being abused at home, because it looked as if I had been beaten.
All around me were girls who were becoming women, and to my eyes, they had it easy. I, on the other hand, decided that beauty is not, and would never be, my strong suit. So I never bothered with clothes, or fashion, or with looking good, because what was the point? It didn’t matter that I had other achievements. I was fat and ugly. I resigned myself to never being loved, and to never really loving myself.
It took a lot of treatments and a lot of tears, before the issue was resolved somewhat. The irritation is not as obvious anymore.But I remember the scars. They are always fresh in my memories.
But that was when I was young, and now I’m older and wiser, right?
Well, yes and no.
Recently my face started becoming covered with pimples, because of hormonal imbalances. Everyone would ask me about them, and drove me crazy. I thanked the heavens when I finally found a product that helped me manage them. I have shared the name and details of this product with many people since.
I am fat, and I anticipate the thousand comments that will come from family and friends, when they see a photo of me looking fat. So, I take photos and selfies from flattering angles, and wear clothes that make me look slimmer. I have learnt these skills from others in the know.
Last month, while talking with some other female friends, we speculated for 15 minutes or more, about how the skin on our arms has become rough and bumpy and what could have caused it. Yesterday, I saw an ad for a product that claims to smoothen the rough and bumpy skin. Today, I will send them a message about the same.
What I am saying is that as I have grown up, I have realized few things:
- Everyone has some imperfections
- No matter how “woke” or “body positive” someone is, everyone has to deal with a world which will judge them for the imperfections,
- So, we are all in the same boat together!
It is other flaws that one must fret about.
A few days before I write this post, Miss USA, in the run up to the Miss Universe pageant made racist comments about the non-English speaking Miss Vietnam and Miss Cambodia. When she did apologize, it came across as half-hearted.
Many of the bold and the beautiful set participated in an extravagant wedding recently –an event that was widely criticized for its vulgar display of wealth and privilege, in a country where many still suffer from abject poverty.
I think of my mother then, who struggled for a large part of her life with being dark skinned. Of the fairness creams and other whitening products I have seen her use. And of her ability to be a warm, nurturing teacher, whose students still keep in touch with her, years after they have passed out.
I think of another friend, who has the same issue with pimples that I had, who is an empathetic, skilled therapist, who truly makes a difference to people who have suffered from trauma.
I think of the singer, Vaikom Vijayalakshmi, who is definitely not beautiful by conventional standards, but whose voice lights up the soul!
I read about wabi-sabi.
One Japanese autumn, long, long ago, a monk asked his disciple to clean the garden. And the disciple did, leaving the garden perfect –not one stray leaf, not one blade of grass out of place. The master came and saw the garden. He stepped over to a tree laden with golden leaves, and shook it till the leaves fell hapharazdly across the garden, making it look more natural, and therefore more pleasing to the eye.
“This is wabi-sabi”, the master said.
And I realize that our physical imperfections and insecurities are beautiful. Because they offer us a vulnerability and grace that open our hearts to love, acceptance, sharing and forgiveness. They adorn our humanity.
Like the statue in the above picture –with all the cracks and breaks; but still whole, still a work of art.
I believe every woman has TRUE BEAUTY within her in all the roles she plays. For over 18 years across 650 plus salons across the country, Naturals has been helping the Beautiful Indian Woman get more Beautiful.
Today Naturals Salutes the Beautiful Indian Woman.
Presenting Naturals TRUE BEAUTY… https://bit.ly/naturalsOF