For years I have been a victim to the narrowly defined standard of beauty of our society. I am sure so many of you might have faced similar situations. I can tell you, it certainly destroys ones psyche, self-confidence and is also an insult to the diversity in our society. I have finally shunned the...
Advertisements for skin whitening products which include creams, face washing projects, lotions, deodorants, masks, skin bleaching products and all, are an extension and reflection of our obsession with fair skin. I have even seen misleading adverts depicting that one can land a good job if they use whiting products. There is also promotion of these products for the getting a good rishta as there is a great demand for a fair skinned bahu. The aesthetics of skin lightening is pretty normal in our society and we all have been happily embracing the ideology of lighter skin as the ideal of beauty standard. The sad part is that majority of Pakistani skincare creams contain excessive mercury and hydroquinone which can cause skin cancer but no one seems to care. Each time I attend a social gathering in Pakistan, I have been bombarded with questions like “what happened to you? Why have gone so dark? Why aren’t you fixing it?” followed by a heap of suggestions and totkay for skin lightning. I won’t be surprised if “color” will appear as a category on the national identification card someday. But you have to trust me fairness is not the key to a better life and your natural skin tone is what makes you beautiful, just look after your skin and eat healthy that is all you need. I would also urge my readers to start taking the word ‘complexion’ out of your conversations and respect people with their natural skin colour.
Another obsession nowadays is to look like the exotic, slender models in adverts. I have been body shamed all my teenage life for not being a certain weight, shape and size and let me tell you it was a sad state. Unfortunately, social media took body shaming to a new level too which didn’t help my drooping self-esteem. My friends, cousins and aunties gave me unsolicited advice on weight loss, I was told herbal teas, crazy diet plans and starvation was the answer to my problem. Mind you I wasn’t even obese, I was just not the dead skinny person from the magazines that they idolized. I used to feel so conscious of what I wore and was also wearing oversize clothes to feel safe. It engulfed my true identity and wasted a lot of my time and energy. It is sad but I learned the hard way. It was when a cousin of mine who was always on a crash diet and was ridiculously thin collapsed at a family wedding, she was later diagnosed with an eating disorder. We all were shocked as all of us were in awe of the way she looked. Sadly, due to her eating disorder and crash diets, she had lost calcium from her bones and she now had very brittle bones, she also had irregular heart rhythms and many other health issues followed. Another friend of mine who were obsessed with weight loss, used some kind of slimming pills which damaged her liver. I stopped obsessing over being the skinny girl on television and started eating healthy. I also started to workout which gave me a happiness boost. My advice for you would be to limit your use of negative media and people who glamorize stick thin people and promote societal expectations and pressures of being a certain size or shape. Due to pressure from social media, we are usually forced to want to look a certain way. Negative comments and body shaming has led many young girls to engage in unhealthy practices to conform to the norms of society. Which has led them to eating disorders. Eat healthy, sleep well, keep hydrated and love the way God has made you.
I would like to end with a quote by Edwin Cole “You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there”. Don’t drown in fake ideological theories of beauty, accept yourself and surround yourself with people who accept you for who you are.