To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.
““ Thich Nhat Hanh
I am 24 years old and I wear glasses carrying power of minus ten diopters in the right eye and minus twelve diopters in the left. What’s the big deal about it you ask? Read on.
I was in my first grade when I started wearing prescription glasses. As I grew, so did the power of my glasses, as does happen with every case of childhood myopia. I used to be teased and mocked at in my school by my batch mates for wearing high powered glasses and this had affected my self-confidence and my sense of self-worth considerably. I grew up believing that I was ugly, and I believed that no matter how much I try, I can never gain acceptance from my peer group.
Nevertheless, there was this deep desire within me which yearned for acceptance from my peer group. I wanted to be praised for my positive qualities, and not demeaned for something which I could not change in myself. This internal insecurity within me kept growing as years passed, and by the time I was 15, I could no more live within this duality in my mind. I decided that I would wear contact lenses, because I believed that, it would make me feel more confident about myself, and also, would give me the much needed acceptance from my peer group that I had been craving for.
And with the contact lenses, I did finally succeed in fitting in, in being considered beautiful, as defined by conventional norms. I was overwhelmed by my own beauty, and I started taking pride in the way I look, and this honeymoon period with my contact lenses lasted for a very long time, wherein I would wear them for long hours, without caring for the accompanying dryness and itchiness. I absolutely loved them for the new sense of self confidence that they had given me.
As a result, my slavishness towards them kept increasing to extreme levels. So much was my insecurity without them that, I wouldn’t come out of my room to greet the guests in the living room, wearing glasses, because I believed they would react with shock that I wear such high powered glasses and would start pitying me, making me feel that something is really wrong with me. In fact, I have met many people who have reacted this way, I have not known what to say to them.
I have also met people who have played with my glasses, wore them just to see how the world looks, and who have disgustingly taken them off, remarking that it makes them dizzy! I didn’t know they were being insensitive in doing so. I just internalised the fact that I am flawed and ugly, and no one would accept me as I am.
Hence, out of fear of losing people and of being judged, I didn’t reveal to my friends in law school that I wear contact lenses. I kept floating in the fake world that I had created for myself, a world which kept telling me that I look beautiful only when I have those plastic pieces inside my eyes, and not when I wear glasses. I had completely succumbed to its allure; I had fallen prey to the lie.
But then, the guilt of not letting even my closest friends know who I really am kept nagging me, and I had to break the ice one day, because I couldn’t take it anymore that I was leading two different lives ““ the glamorous life outside my home, and the dull, nerdy life inside home. When I did finally “come out”, I was surprised to see how my friends didn’t really make a fuss of it all. They rather accepted me as I was, which truly overwhelmed and humbled me at the same time.
So I realised that many times we fall prey to a self-weaved web of self-deprecation, self-hate and self-pity so much so that we fail to recognise and nurture our positive qualities. We start acting as our biggest enemies, and we start believing that no one can save us from the doom that we are destined to, because clearly, no one but ourselves can save ourselves from the doom! I also realised that there are ample reasons for us to believe that we are beautiful, despite what the world tells us.
Here are the 5 reasons why I think we are more beautiful than we think we are:
1. We are more than our appearance
Many times it so happens that we start believing in the image in the broken mirrors that people around us show us. We start believing that our face too is broken like that. We fail to realise that it’s up to us to show ourselves the unbroken mirror to see our real beauty. We often fail to realise that our appearance most of the times is situated internally, and not on the outside because, people only see that in us that they want to see, and not necessarily what is visible to them!
2. We have blind spots
We generally have no idea how we make others feel, or how others view us. We as human beings do not give importance to looking at ourselves from others’ perspective, and this often prevents us from recognizing our positive traits. Not being self-aware is one of the biggest hindrances we face in recognizing our true beauty.
3. Our culture doesn’t encourage self-love
We are all the time bombarded with expectations ““ be it from our friends, family, or even the society in general. We are constantly reminded that we are not perfect and that we should constantly yearn for perfection and that it is easily achievable if we put in some efforts. In this false race towards the mystical perfection, we keep hating ourselves for the imperfect beings that we are, not realising that we are not meant to be perfect, and it’s perfectly okay to be imperfect, because we are humans, not Gods (Well, in Hinduism at least, even the Gods weren’t perfect!)!
4. We recognise our imperfections more easily than our perfections
I think this is again related to the kind of capitalist and consumerist world we all live in, wherein we are forced to look for imperfections in ourselves, so that we can be sold the several magic potions promising the much enigmatic perfection! We are so used to searching for, and even creating imperfections within ourselves, that we forget that we ought to celebrate what we truly are, and we forget, to borrow Emilie Wapnick’s words, that we got to “embrace our inner wiring, whatever that maybe”!
5. Beauty is a dynamic concept
Lastly, we fail to realise that beauty in today’s world has become a commodity which is rapaciously sold to us, all day and night long. We are made to believe that we are not beautiful, until and unless we stick to certain minimum requirements. Such standardization of beauty definitions and commodification of beauty makes us forget that beauty is something very dynamic ““ something which cannot be defined universally and linearly. It makes us forget that the definition of beauty changes with changing times, peoples and perceptions, and we would only be disappointed if we chase a mirage of it that’s shown to us!
Thus, if only we recognise these facts about ourselves and our place in our society, no one can stop us from feeling beautiful, with all our imperfections, because hey, our perfections lie precisely in our imperfections, don’t they?!