Growing up, I was surrounded by people who tried to equate beauty to the colour of their skin. Regardless to say, the media and advertising industry continued to reiterate it. And while I was lucky to understand early in life with the support of family and friends that each of us was beautiful in our skins, I have come across several young women who grapple with loving themselves.
One must imagine how deep insecurities can run when you are told that you’d be beautiful only if you were two tones fairer. Can you imagine feeling physically impure just because you have dark skin?
Well, this young Mumbaikar did. But this isn’t a story to highlight her insecurities, but one which chronicles her journey from loathing to loving herself.
Speaking to the Humans of Bombay, she narrates,
“I always wanted to look like my mom growing up–she was fair, while my dad was dark. Even while we were living in the US, my mom would put haldi on my face to make my skin look lighter. I grew up feeling like there was a physical impurity in me — like I wasn’t washing my face enough.
In school — I gave up looking good and settled with feeling invisible. When we had to perform in a skit of Radha and Krishna — it was automatically assumed that I would be Krishna, and I couldn’t help but think that it was because of my skin.
Then came the movies. I noticed that only ‘fair women’ played the ‘high class’ roles, while the darker skin ones were mostly ‘extras’ — I was young and naive and believed that I was lower because of how I looked.
I started feeling dejected. Everything escalated when my boyfriend broke up with me… I was depressed and had completely hit rock bottom. I started cutting myself and hiding from everyone. I don’t think anyone expected that from me — because outwardly, I was considered a very witty person.
There’s something about being at rock bottom that gives you unimaginable strength — I don’t know what stirred me, but I decided to stop. To stop the self-pity and just get a hold of my life. Each morning, I made a conscious effort to tell myself that I didn’t need to rely on anyone to make me feel good or beautiful — it HAD to come from me. I confided in my mom and together, we tackled the problem head-on.
And slowly, I regained control of my life, my confidence and my happiness.
I started a new chapter when I began college — I met with people who admired me for who I was and how confidently I carried myself. I let go of the thought that dark cannot be beautiful. I felt like I could look however I wanted to, and I didn’t have to justify my skin tone — I finally felt like I was ‘enough’. I got a tattoo of my parent’s birthdays over my scars to remind me that there were people who loved me for who I was. This is me, unfair and lovely — and I feel pretty damn good about it!”
Unfair and lovely she says. And damn right, I support her. To all you beautiful women out there, regardless of the colour of your skin- the only thing I have to say is – You are beautiful, and you don’t need validation from anyone to prove that.
It reminds me of the beautiful lines, someone once sent me. I hope it makes you smile too.
“When she is told
Her skin is too dark;
I do not hesitate to offer,
That the sun loved her so much
It kissed her more
Than the rest of us.”