body image & beauty: empowering the feminine

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Truth is beauty, beauty is truth!

In our society of fake standards of beauty, women are constantly worried about how they look, what their skin color is, how their bodies are shaped etc. Even the so called beautiful women have body image and self-esteem issues surrounding their looks. So today I am going to give you some tips to improve your self-image and become more beautiful inside-out.

Hello folks, I’m an author, speaker, dancer and actor. But more than anything, I am a woman and I know exactly how many women feel about their looks in a vain society that capitalizes on women’s looks. Come to think of it, most advertisements, commercials, films, magazines, banners, matrimonials, and other elements in our society perpetuate a standard of beauty that is nearly impossible to achieve for most women or to sustain for those who do achieve; as if we are potatoes and eggplants to be sized up in the market for our looks! Since media hypes up the definition of beauty for women, it is not uncommon for many if not most women in our world today to feel inadequate or have a sense of not “measuring up” to societal standards of beauty, resulting in poor self-esteem and other body image issues.

I have been through this myself. Growing up I didn’t think I was beautiful. In fact in my teenage years I always felt ugly whenever I compared myself to other girls who were more beautiful than me, according to society. So today I am here to bust a few myths about our own pre-conceived notions and prejudices about looks.

Beauty is a very subjective thing. I am sure you don’t need me to tell you that. Theoretically we all know it; beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Yes? No! Wrong. I am here to tell you something quite the opposite. Beauty lies inside of you. And when you can find that beauty within yourself and project it outward, the beholder’s eyes will also find beauty in you. Let me explain…

The problem

See, being an Indian there are certain standards of beauty that exist in my country that I am familiar with. Fairness, for example, is considered a huge beauty trait. Right from cosmetic products, creams, lotions, make-up, fashion… in fact a whole beauty industry is out there making billions of bucks by making women feel insecure about their skin color, profiting from either trying to lure darker women to buy their skin-lightening products or cashing in on the “beauty” of a fair lady. Young girls, who want to be accepted and acknowledged beautiful in a terrible society like this, will inevitably invest in fairness creams and other harmful products containing chemicals that play with the melanin content of the skin and makes it more prone to cancer and other diseases. Weight is another beauty parameter, likewise body shape, figure, features, height etc…. you name it! Any woman can feel inadequate with soo many parameters to judge her beauty. No wonder the billion dollar cosmetic surgery industry is getting richer everyday at the expense of the health of women!

Naturally as I grew up, I too had been fed with all this bull that made me feel I was not “good enough” especially because I wanted to be perceived as beautiful, and so often I too felt conscious of my looks. But I left India at a very young age for further studies and since then I have lived abroad and travelled to different continents to view this world through my own eyes and I was quite surprised with what I discovered. Let me share with you some of my perceptions.

When I was in Singapore, the petite women with their Chinese features, demure nature, and fair complexion were considered ‘beauty’ in that society. Whereas when I was in Africa, the big African women with their voluptuous figures & features were considered beautiful. In fact, the fatter a woman is the more beautiful she is, as her fat contributes to her curves! When I ate the African food consisting of yam, cassava, plantain, garri, yucca, basically a lot of starch, I had put on quite a bit of tummy, but the men there told me it was another curve in my body and hence beautiful. Women there are celebrated for their rounded assets, no matter what shape or size they come in. While some cultures worship voluptuous curvaceous women, others like straight, thin, athletic figures. By whose standards would you go by?

The African sun had scorched my skin quite a bit and I had become very dark there, so when I returned to India, I got a shock from people’s reaction to me! I remember it was Diwali, and I had worn a beautiful saree for the occasion and one man, of like my dad’s age, came to me and said, “you look pretty but if only you had your dad’s fair color, you’d look so much more beautiful.” I never forgot that comment! Educated, civilized, cultured people who you expect to have broad mindsets speak like this! Young and naïve that I was then, I gulped it down and did not have the courage to retaliate. But today I do, hence I am writing this piece for you all innocent females out there who go through this humiliation every day in some form or the other.

So back to my story… when I was in Europe & the Americas, everybody loved my dark skin complexion. In fact the darker I got, the more beautiful I felt. Although Latin women are considered very beautiful, I was especially exotic there for my darker skin tone and hence more beautiful according to both men and women. Naturally I prefer to live abroad! LOL

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a venezuelan mannequin

When I was in South America, I got another shock of my life! As a kid, I used to watch beauty pageants, Miss Universe contests, and had the impression that South American women were very beautiful. Venezuela is the country where women are considered worldwide to be the most beautiful. But what did I find in that country? In fact, I would have never known this had I not been shown… in their culture, a woman’s beauty is so exaggerated that most girls at a young age of 15, 16… go under the knife, get silicone implants to augment their assets, liposuction to lose flab, cosmetic surgery to correct features etc. Sometimes when I used to go clothes shopping, I would be surprised to see these larger than life sized mannequins, that were set as the beauty standard for women in that society. Just google ‘mannequins in venezuela’ images and see what you get!

In a vain country like that, without much intellectual importance given to women, from a very young age they fall prey to these cosmetic procedures and the cosmetic surgery industry makes billions harvesting on their low self-esteem, even endangering these women’s lives. Once I read the news about a woman, whose silicone implants burst in an airplane, due to the low altitude creating pressure difference, and she died. Even other than that, implants can cause cancer, infection, health problems and other harmful side-effects, besides the necessity to change them every ten years or so which inevitably entails huge investments on maintaining that look. Women who can’t afford these replacements, may be carrying inside them old implants thus endangering their lives. What a pity! In such a country, it must be very difficult for a woman to feel secured or empowered with her natural assets, although girls there are naturally so beautiful with their inherited features and figures.

What insanity! I was a teacher there and once I asked a 13 year old, very pretty girl, about her opinion on plastic surgery. “I think it’s really good because it improves our self-esteem”. That was her answer! So then I got it. A woman’s whole self-esteem revolves around how good she looks and how well she is accepted for her beauty. And yet she is never satisfied with the way she looks; if one part of her body is corrected, she starts finding faults with another. What kind of self-esteem was she talking about? Obviously when your entire sense of self comes from the way you look, you are bound to have self-image issues because you will not look the same all your life or you will constantly compare yourself with others or criticize your own body.

God has created 7 billion people in this world, with no two bodies or faces or features alike. While some are short, others are tall, some are fat, others are thin, some are curvy, others are straight… people come in all shapes and sizes creating variety! And variety is the spice of life. So then after living in all these countries I wondered, if I were to go by societal standards, what my own standards of beauty would be. When I got really tanned due to the sun in Africa and returned to India, people said I was too dark. When I got fat in Africa, people there said I was curvy and hence pretty whereas in my country that would be fat. When I lived in Latin America, Europe and the USA, I was attractive especially for my skin color. I felt more accepted in other countries than in my own.  Am I supposed to be proud of my country?

The secret

All said and done, through these travels I discovered a secret that I am going to share with you here. Forget society and its ridiculous standards. Let us talk about life and creation. We live in a universe where the Law of Attraction is at play all the time. Everyone is constantly contributing to society and its belief systems. So you have power to change your experience of beauty in this society. The law of attraction is as sure as the law of gravity. If I drop something it will fall, at least here inside the earth, right? Similarly, the law of attraction states that like attracts like. It simply means, whatever we feel inside is reflected back to us on the outside. broken_beautyOr to put it in other words, our own internal vibrations are mirrored back to us externally. The universe is like a giant photocopy machine reflecting back to us our own sense of selves.

In my younger years, I too had self-image issues. When I felt like I was not pretty, everyone externally mirrored that vibration back to me. But as I travelled the world, with every country having a different parameter for beauty, I wondered what should be my own parameter. Of course the answer was within. I realized that when I began to celebrate my own unique body with all its fat, curves, color and features, it was reflected back to me externally. Suddenly from a no-beauty, I felt like I “became” beautiful literally overnight and yet nothing had changed externally in my body. Only the way I carried myself became more confident and people noticed, hence I felt my own beauty reflected back to me externally. What had changed was my own inner awareness and definition of beauty.

Oftentimes, more than men, women are women’s worst enemies. They will remind you, criticize you, judge you for your figure, height, weight, color etc. or make you so conscious that you feel inadequate in your own body. But body is something you are born with. There are some aspects of it that can’t be changed ever.

The answer

feelings-2You have to find self-acceptance, self-approval, self-love and feel comfortable in your own skin. And you know when you do that some kind of magic happens. When you can find infinite beauty within and value yourself, suddenly the external world begins to mirror it back to you. And you really “become” beautiful. Sometimes even your body transforms. All of a sudden you may lose some pounds, or your skin begins to glow with inner radiance, or your overall personality improves and confidence rockets which others find attractive.

You know why most of the time dieting or rigorous exercising, fast weight loss methods don’t work, or even if you do shed the excess weight temporarily, you gain it back? It’s because that action usually doesn’t come from a place of self-love. It comes from a place of self-hate. The two energies are poles apart. It is a resistance to what is. And as there is the law of attraction, there is also the law of resistance which states that what we resist persists. So whatever you resist within yourself will come back to you. Hence, the secret to even weight loss is first to start loving who you are right here right now, accepting all that you are and finding approval within yourself for the way you look, appreciating your body. Remember you are contributing to the variety that exists in life. Imagine if every woman had the same figure, height, color, features etc. the world would be such a boring place. So you are good where you are, how you are, right this instant. Even if nobody else does, find love for your body within you. If you are fat, love your curves. If you are thin, celebrate your figure. If you are short, know that small is beautiful. If you are too tall, you are already a celebrity! unknown-913575_1920Don’t fight against yourself; work with yourself. Wherever you are, start there. And if you cannot find anything beautiful about yourself, then just stand in front of a mirror and look into your eyes. Do this every day for some time and say to yourself “I am enough”. And do it until you can stare at that reflection in the mirror and fall in love with it. When you do, others will too, I promise you!

Self-care

That said, our body is our temple. It is what houses our soul to ride this physical experience called life here on earth. It is your responsibility to love it and take care of it and not treat it harshly. I won’t go into the details of taking care of the body here, but I bet you know what I mean; food, exercise, sleep, good habits, natural products, organic stuff, herbal cosmetics, non-chemicals, alternative medicine etc. will go a long way to not only preserve this body but also keep it disease free.

6a017d3f96f2ed970c01a511ab8eed970cNever ever be ashamed of your body. Not any part of it. Not now not ever. Your body is a process. It will never stay the same. Love, celebrate, soul-e-brate what you have and it will be mirrored back to you. Let us create new standards of beauty in this society, for nothing is set in stone. When more and more women find beauty within, and value themselves for who they are, our society, mass media, external reality including men and other women will reflect that back to us multifold… and then we will have created true beauty!

It is the real you that everybody falls in love with anyways…


 

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Author: Boi

Hi, I am a storyteller; I tell real stories about real people to fictitious characters!

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