If there was one word that most female lives depended on, their very existence revolving around it, I would say that word would have to be beauty. Since many years, the true essence of the word lost its meaning, as more and more people began associating it with the physical appearance rather than the heart, which actually matters.
Such was the life of Aradhana, the typical girl next door person with a kind heart and a sharp mind. She lived her life with the single-minded focus of being independent both financially as well as emotionally, thereby leaving her with no time to take care of her own physical appearance. Her mornings were spent rushing to classes and evenings in pursuing her creative deadlines.
Then, there was her sister, an equally intelligent girl, this one focused more on her external appearance, her face caked with layers of make-up and her clothes growing shorter every year. People said she looked gorgeous, with a perfectly toned body and her glowing skin. The girl gave an obvious importance to her external features, thereby turning superficial.
Aradhana looked at herself in the mirror every morning, hating the shape of both her face as well as her body, thinking that she was plump and ugly but trying hard not to let that affect her confidence. But it was hard and more so than the rest of her inabilities because she had a beautiful sister who everyone wanted while she herself in comparison looked drab. She was a girl with many guy friends but no boyfriends and that impacted her teenage mind dearly, making her feel inadequate.
She’d watch every day as her sister spent hours on her phone, boys calling her at odd times. Aradhana didn’t want to be jealous. She told herself that she had things to do that mattered more. A simple character, a lovely heart and a gentle soul. Not that her sister was a bad person. No, she was wonderful to her which was why it made Aradhana feel worse about her own feelings towards the girl.
One night when they were about to go to bed, Aradhana heard a flirtatious giggle from the other end of the room as her sister continued talking on the phone dangerously seductively.
Aradhana closed her eyes, willing herself to fall asleep and ignore the attention her sister was getting in place of her. She never understood it, mainly because she believed that she was more intelligent and felt as if she deserved the attention. Even in her family, whenever Aradhana did something worthy of appreciation, it was shrugged off because she was expected to do good things. But when her sister did something that was even remotely better than her usual performance, she was showered with appreciation.
Body image was very vital for Aradhana. It was something she lacked the most. Every day, her tummy got in the way of her pant button and the sleeves of her clothes pierced into her skin reminding her of her imperfections. She didn’t know then that what was on the inside mattered more, that brains and personality were the two defining characteristics of beauty. She didn’t understand that those who didn’t see and cherish her true self didn’t deserve her.
Instead, she thought what most others her age did. That she was ugly.
What did ugly really mean, though? Was it the way she went out of her usual routine to try and help someone in need even if she didn’t know that person? Was it the way she focused on her education with a single minded dedication and focus that most kids her age lacked? Or was it the way she held her own, winning every competition that came by her path because she knew how to beat them all? No, to her it meant herself.
But, as time began to pass and she began to turn into her own individual, her facial features began to set in and her body started changing and developing. But most of all, it was her mind that transformed. The face in the mirror turned softer with grace and understanding as her eyes now had the confidence of self-worth.
She no longer objectified herself nor did she want what her sister had all those years. She’d attained mental maturity and she’d learnt to love herself for she understood that every person has their own problems as well as faults and that one is supposed to look past them and love self. That was the most important thing.
For decades, women have been suffering from a poor body image, trying to find solace in the externalizations that compliment their flaws. Society has proven to be of no help either as constant judgement gets passed around, subjecting women to harassment of a new level. The physical kind.
It’s time the world changed the way it scans women.
It’s time the universe found in it the ability to appreciate the heart and soul.
It’s time we all learnt how to love ourselves.
It’s time for a revolution.