Dove has been on a bit of an advertorial spree from what I know. One of the publications they worked with for their latest #ChooseBeautiful compaign is Cosmopolitan India Magazine and Meghna Sharma from Cosmo called me to check if I’d like to be a part of it. The only reason I was actually able to do this was because I was given a deadline of TWO HOURS. Heh. I decided to drop everything I was doing and sat down to think about my memories related to my perception of my physical appearance and to then type out this story that I’ve shared only with some of my closest friends only.
The original note I had emailed to the Cosmopolitan team :
As a ten or eleven year old, my perception of my self was that I was ugly. My family had just moved from a smaller city to the behemoth that is now NCR and my new school was filled with girls and boys whom I believed were so much prettier than I was. The girls waxed their arms and legs and wore their school uniform skirts two inches shorter. I couldn’t possibly broach the subject of waxing with my folks, so I wore my skirts two inches longer. I articulate this feeling better now in hindsight. When I was living that phase though, it was just a daily painful feeling of being confused and muddled and of constantly being unsure of my self.
Around the same time, a Hindi film called Thoda Sa Roomani Ho Jayen was showing on the one TV channel that existed. It had a scene where the male lead asks the female lead, who thinks herself ugly, to look into the mirror and loudly proclaim that she is beautiful. As cheesy as it sounds today, that moment there is when I chose beautiful. As soon as the film ended on TV, I walked up to the mirror, looked myself in the eye and loudly said, “I am beautiful.” I repeated this whenever I felt low on self-confidence or a boy broke my heart. It was a coping strategy that helped me get through some of my darkest days growing up.
Currently, in my 30s, the goal is internal peace and beauty. I am learning to look for the real me inside my superficial skin. I am learning that the blemishes on my skin or the cellulite on my thighs are not flaws but parts of me that make ME. Having struggled with some extra weight almost all my life, I am now more comfortable with the idea of “weight loss” and fitness as something I do for my well-being than for what the world thinks of me. Being kind to myself is a rewarding daily practice.
I no longer choose beautiful though. Because I know I am. And if I ever doubt that, all I have to do is look into the mirror ( maybe sprinkle on a bit of blush and highlighter ) and tell myself, “I am beautiful.”
I asked them for help with proof-reading and whatever corrections were needed because I literally typed this out in fifteen minutes to meet the deadline! It was fun sharing this anecdote about my life in print and now I’m thrilled to share it on the blog as well. I have noticed that no matter how much we share online these days, no one really entirely comprehends what kind of a person is typing these words and who really is in the photographs. I always love reading tid bits from my favourite bloggers’ lives and will strive to share more of the things that have shaped who I am today. ( Not to say that I know who I am – it’s a process of evolution! )
The photo of me used in the feature is a self-portrait from edition 31 of the #CoverUp series.
More than anything else though – I can’t believe I’m on the same double-page spread space as the most awesome photographer Anushka Menon! I love her work and she is SUPER nice and kickass in person.