If you are a girl born in Indian society, I bet we have had some common experiences. It matters little if you were born dark, fair, short, tall, thin, fat, with frizzy or shiny hair. What matters most is how you make decisions that shape your life. We are also taught early on to decide for ourselves and value our lives more than our partners and children. Sounds familiar, right?…. Wait, what?….it doesn’t??

So here is my personal story of how I wish I could see the world in a different shade.I had a ‘normal’ childhood. I am the elder born of my parents who are both in ‘government jobs.’ We live in a humble space with three interconnected rooms. It is not in the BHK format. It is just three rooms, all having a bed, an almirah, a table, and a few chairs—nothing too fancy. The only oomph factor is that the verandah opens to a lake and lush mountains. So naturally, my favorite spot is the edge of the veranda. I have stood there for so many hours of my life.

At eleven, I was allowed to have longer than shoulder-length hair. I liked to comb them at my favorite spot until suddenly, someday, a friend told me that her mother told her that girls should not comb their hair in public view to avoid unwanted attention. I took it to heart. Around the same age, my aunt told me that I should pull around the bridge of my nose every morning when I wake up. Apparently, a high nose bridge makes you beautiful. To add to this, my own dear friends also made fun of my heavy bottom and lumpy legs. I have strawberry legs, so once I tried to peel off my skin to fix it once and for all.

There have been instances in the past where I have been reminded time and time again that I do not fit in the definition of “beautiful” that society has set. Naturally, when I stepped into college life, I was well aware of the flaws I’ve always been reminded of.I played too hard to woo guys with good talks and tireless smiling. And I did manage to have my first boyfriend and felt everything was ‘normal’ about me. By the time college came to an end, he and I moved to different cities. I was out again looking for another bait.

So I made a second boyfriend. Sweet and smart girl, short and plump but sweet, was I, and everything was calm and normal again. Then I moved out of the country. Boom! In my face. I was a foreigner in a foreign land. Time difference, different workstyle, and distance took their toll, and I broke up for a second time. Now, I was on the lookout again! I found an Indian guy and started a relationship for the third time! There was a constant need to be wanted and admired with the limited good looks and wit I possessed. And normalcy prevailed again..till he moved to a different country.

In a parallel room in my life, my studies had paced up a bit, and I got busy with it. I started to spend a lot of time in the lab with uncombed hair and creased-out clothes. My life flipped entirely for good. This helped me cleanse up my thoughts and unlearn the ‘beauty education’ imprinted in my head. Also, my lab in the basement of the building had no cellular signals, so I was on my own. Silent and peaceful. Listening to my thoughts and paying less attention to my body.

At 30, I am trying to discover myself for the first time. I am trying to listen to my own voice lying dormant underneath the cover of conditioning and prejudices. I am trying to figure out why a certain person behaves cruelly with me in the past. And the answer yet again is the conditioning and prejudices imposed on them by others. And most importantly, I imagine my voice coming out of a beautiful mind rather than a stumpy body wrapped in rough skin.

Dear fellow human, if this sounds familiar, then firstly, I am sorry that you had to have this experience. I wish that you, too, get a chance to see your own beauty through your mind. I hope that your journey starts soon. Remember that just like you, I, too, am trying to navigate the trenches of life. We are in this together, under the same stars. We are made of stardust, so twinkle and just twinkle!

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