When I was a child, my mother would apply different herbal products on my skin in the hope that it would lose some of its colour. Well, much to her content, I did turn out to be light-skinned, but only to be followed by acne. On many occasions, distant relatives have pitied me and suggested all sorts of treatments to get rid of my acne.
If that wasn’t all, I have always been teased (read: bullied) for my weight. The word ‘moti‘, a Hindi word for ‘fat’ is often used as a term of endearment. But, as someone who has grown up being bullied with that, I fail to see where the affection lies in all of it.
While growing up, I started hating mirrors. I thought it was the worst human invention ever! Mirrors just made me hate myself. They highlighted my acne covered face, supported by a double-chin. I would stand hours in front of the mirror criticising myself, picking out my flaws.
My protruding belly, nerdy glasses and acne made me the most undesirable girl. I am currently 18 and have never had a boyfriend. My friends encouraged me to go out and meet guys. It would be fun, they said! But how can I do all that when I wanted to puke whenever I saw my face.
It was my disgusting physical appearance and failure to fulfil the societal expectations of beauty that also made me hate shopping. Having to ask for a bigger size and hearing your family comment on your body while you’re in the trial room wasn’t an ideal situation. I’ve lost count of the times I have cried in trial rooms of various shopping centres.
I couldn’t help but think how ugly I looked in every outfit I tried. I couldn’t wear dresses, skirts or shorts because they wouldn’t look good on me. I would only feel fatter in them. I used to hate my appearance and always attempted to fit in the society’s description of “beautiful“.
I never wished to be the most beautiful girl out there, I just wanted people to not be repelled by me.
I tried exercising and lost a little weight. My family was ecstatic. They were finally satisfied with how I looked and all they wished for was my acne to clear out as well. While they were happy, I still wasn’t comfortable in my skin. I knew for a fact that I lost weight but that still didn’t reduce the hatred I felt for my body.
I still wasn’t satisfied with my body and continued to criticise myself. Amid all that negative criticism, I realised that the shape of my body won’t change how I feel about myself; it won’t stop my self-criticism. But only my views of myself would make me feel beautiful and good about myself.
Surprisingly, watching all those “feel good about yourself” videos and those novels talking about accepting yourself worked for me. They made me realise that I can’t give the responsibility for my happiness to someone else. Even if I fail to meet unreasonable societal expectations, it’s okay. It doesn’t matter. People’s opinions would always clash with mine.
I accepted how I look; it might not be ideal but it’s who I am and nothing can change that.
I am surprised that I did this. This being, not the public expression of what I went through, but the admission of the fact that I had insecurities and have finally come to terms with them and myself. I am still considered ‘overweight’ and my face is filled with acne but it doesn’t bother me anymore. I have made peace with it and accepted that it’s a part of me. More importantly, societal expectations will always bring you down. But they are so not worth it!