Mirror Mirror on the wall. Who is fairest of them all? – Snow White and the seven Dwarfs.
This simple quote from a fairy tale has stuck with for a long long time. As a kid I loved fairy tales. Especially Cinderella and Snow white. I always fantasied that a prince charming will come for me too. But growing up and still being hooked to these fairy tales I realized that all these damsels in distress were beautiful with big eyes, fair skin, perfect facial features and long hair.
But, I was not all that. I mean Yes, I have the normal human facial features but nothing fairy types about it. I am dark skinned to add to all of it. And growing up somehow that was an issue to the family friends and relatives. I have been blessed that my parents never once thought that I am ugly just because I am dark skinned. They always considered me pretty and still do. But, I was constantly at the hearing end.
I have had people tell me I cannot wear pastel colors as they make me look darker. Then some said I cannot wear dark color as I will blend into them. I need to apply face packs and not go out in the sun. So, basically I cannot wear any colors and cannot enjoy my childhood playing out. Wonderful! Isn’t it? I love dancing I have danced since the day I remember. So, being a dancer I would always receive my makeup last and the makeup lady would tell me that I will not look good with makeup on so just a little ghostly white powder would suffice. But, once when I insisted that I want to put makeup on. She reluctantly agreed to khol and lipstick. I was just 12 years at the time. When she was applying khol to my eyes a girl 3 years younger to me commented that the khol is exactly the color of my skin. I felt bad. It really hurt. I thought to myself that such a young girl so concerned about color. Nobody was bothered about my dance or me being good at academics all the focus was on me needing to be a few shades lighter somehow! To top it all, I had my relatives tell my parents that they need to save as much as possible so that they could get me married to a decent guy. Like money could compensate for my color.
I grew up with that. On TV, the movies the magazines everywhere I looked I could not find anybody who looked like me. This just added to the belief that I was probably the only one who looked like this. I finally started working and met more people, good people who made me realize that I am pretty, I am not as dark as I think I am. And the color of skin does not matter. What matters is the person inside out. They helped me recognize my interests of reading and writing. They helped me come out of my obsession of constantly applying something to my skin and not going out in the sun. They helped me to finally live a confident life.
I look back and think how stupid I was to let all that affect me. But, Then I was young and naïve. I certainly did not need the negative advice from people I called my uncles and aunts. I wish we stop doing that. We stop judging people based on color, weight, height etc… Everybody is beautiful. Everybody has good and bad. I want anybody and everybody who reads this to go look into the mirror and say I am beautiful I am perfect.
I completely relate to Pink’s song Perfect and Beyonce’s Pretty hurts. They always give me the once in a while boost. Now, I know and believe that I am pretty. I always was and I always will be. Now I love the mirror on the wall and I hope you do too.