Recently, I made a trip to the shady, crowded and busy Sadar Bazar to buy stationery. As I waded through the streets with my friend who had never been to this place, we found ourselves nearly drowning in a sea of humans. There were men, young and old, large women draped in saris carrying boxes; probably buying gifts for relatives as Diwali was around the corner. My advice to you would be - to never step out of your house when a festival is approaching!
Anyway, while walking down the street, I realised that I was the only girl who looked different in the crowd. A sudden fear of being noticed and an imaginative sense of being teased started to creep in. I was surely being stared at in the face-- I might also be a bit paranoid as well.
Why do I feel this way? Perhaps because I spent most of my years growing up in the northern region of the country, and in Delhi I feel different than everyone else most of the time, especially in public. Around my friends, I am comfortable, to the point that I forget I look different. However, when I step out into the city, I become very aware of the way I look. A city like Delhi is popular for racial discrimination, something not very encouraging for me, being from the north-east particularly.
This has, however, taught me to be wary of my actions, my behaviour and the way I conduct myself in public. And I must admit that I sometimes start hating the way I look here. I hate feeling like I am under constant scrutiny and even wish I lived in a different world altogether. I look different, I stand out in a crowd and being stared at is something I have had to get used to. (Oh, but please, stop staring, it’s rude!)
The idea of beauty is a little different in my hometown than it is here. Different from the idea that beauty constitutes thick eyebrows, large eyes and deep-set features. Actually, I am far from that ideal. Smaller eyes, thin eyebrows and pale-skin make up for the perceived "lack" and are embraced instead.
Everywhere we go around the city we are reminded of our appearance. Billboards, advertisements and magazines constantly give us tips on how to look beautiful. Unconsciously, many of us have fallen into the trap of trying to look "perfect" all the time. We have become far too conscious about how we look rather than who we really are. But this is where we should draw the line.
No matter what the world thinks, beauty is truly in the eyes and heart of the beholder and varies from culture to culture-- even region to region, as is the case here in India. If you take a look at an experiment that one young woman did in order to see how beauty varies from place to place (click here for link), you'll see more clearly what I mean. It's eye-opening to see what different cultures call "beautiful" and how it would be impossible for one person to meet all the standards the world has for what is considered "beautiful."
For me, at times, I have to remind myself that I have been created in God’s image. Remembering that He made me beautiful in His eyes and that alone is enough. He thought it was good when He created me. It doesn’t matter how you think or what the world thinks, God created you and me wonderfully. Let us not delude ourselves and think we are worthless, even though stares or remarks may try to make us believe otherwise.
Have you ever lived somewhere or visited a place where you stood out because you looked different? How did that make you feel?
Photo Credit: John Monsang
Dear Yini, Thank you for writing this post. It is so true that beauty really lies heart of the beholder.
I liked the way you have said above:
"Unconsciously, many of us have fallen into the trap of trying to look “perfect” all the time. We have become far too conscious about how we look rather than who we really are. But this is where we should draw the line."
It is so freeing to just be happy with who and how we are; once we embrace this we can truly be what God intended us to be.