I wanted to be pretty. That’s when it began. The toxicity only got worse with age.
I remember the first time I actually realised, that ‘beautiful’ was what everyone around me was striving to be. As a little girl of 12, I understood vaguely what beauty is but it was very clear to me that it is a step towards acceptance and adoration in the society we live in. I picked up on the subtleties. My fair friend with a mole right below her lip and mahogany hair seemed to get more help when she fell down from the swingset. “Why does the hero’s girlfriend always look the same? Same long hair, petite frame and doe eyes?” I thought as I sat watching a movie with my family. A clear change in attitude and behavior towards people who looked a certain way existed and that was all my brain could comprehend. As I entered my teens, things started getting clearer. At 14, all I could see in fashion magazines were pretty and dainty women with delicate collarbones and men who looked like they were chiseled out of marble and oiled 4 times a day. I recall sitting in front of the mirror as a young girl who was not skinny, looking for my collarbone to jut out just a little bit and for the slightest gap between my thighs. I wanted to be pretty. That’s when it began. The toxicity only got worse with age. “The boys won’t like me if I don’t have long, slender legs like Kate Moss”. Advertisements where the dark or dusky skin was portrayed as some sort of a curse, made me put all sorts of things on my face, some of which cost me trips to the hospital. I watched my first VS Fashion Show at 16 and gaped in awe at the beautiful women who I knew were accepted as ‘beautiful’ in society. I hated myself for not looking even a bit like them. I remember the horror when I noticed my stretch marks for the first time because society had hammered into my head that it was not acceptable to have any sort of marks or blemishes. Flawless is equal to beautiful. I also remember going over to my friend’s place who I thought was the epitome of beauty. She had it all; the gorgeous curly locks, all the weight in all the right places, perfectly dimpled cheeks and beautiful light skin. I remember her sobbing because her thighs touched and she was thinking of giving up football because it was tanning her skin. It hit me that day. Nobody is beautiful. That gorgeous boy I had been crushing on thought he had chicken legs. The valedictorian tried so hard to grow a butt. The football jock starved to get that jawline everyone was crazy about. The phrase “Everybody is beautiful” seemed like such nonsense to me in that moment of realisation. The society will always find flaws with an individual unless that person is an airbrushed and photoshopped model on the cover of a magazine. The kind of flak our celebrities receive for going make up free is an indicator that the people we grew up idolising were selling us the lies society wanted to feed us. Beauty begins with you. Beauty lies in self-love and self-care. If I’ve learned something in 18 years of my existence, it is this; you can never be pretty enough for everybody and of course, it’s unreasonable to ask everyone to have a universal concept of beauty. So instead of trying to change our appearance for every other person, we want to please, why don’t we work on accepting ourselves for the kind of beauty we are and then uplifting the others around us for their own kind of beautiful. Destroy the idea that a certain size or shade or number on the scale can put a tag on your beauty and worth. We’ve been fed enough self-doubt and hate. Time to own our beauty, my fellas.
This write up was submitted by Marvie Magotra (II Year).