I finally got myself into talking about self esteem issues. Ohkay so where do we start? Most girls suffer from low confidence because of body image. In my case it is about all the other things which are not at all related to makeup, looking externally beautiful and fashion. I believe everyone is beautiful. I never believed in the stereotype for beauty that my Bangladeshi society has carefully mapped for a girl such as fair skin, slim (not skinny) and dressing in traditional Bengali clothes such as salwar kameez and saree in order for you to get married. I had no clue about that until last year when my friend’s mother carefully pointed out how a girl not wearing traditional Bangladeshi clothes prevents her from getting married. Now keep in mind I am not saying ‘Bengali’ because we are not North Eastern Indians, we are Bangladeshis and it’s a bit different even though they speak Sylheti. I honestly don’t care about how a man needs to be tall and have broad shoulders in order to be defined as ‘handsome’ in my community.
The other day I was telling one of my British friends that how one can’t expect a prince when they look like a pauper and she responded “What is wrong with that? I want someone tall for myself.” I by no means disrespect the look of a pauper but what I mean is you can’t expect your spouse to be dark, tall and slim when you are nothing like that. It made me release it is not just the Bengali community, it is every other community. There is something awfully wrong. For example a divorced woman finds it hard to get married in our Asian community because half her beauty has faded because she married once. My lovely childhood friend got married and I made a delicious tart for her. Now she had a grand wedding and everyone attended except me because I was away from home. One year of marriage and they got divorced. Now this girl, I kid you not is the perfect traditional definition of how a girl should be in our Bengali community. She can cook, clean, take care of others and basically do everything house related. She was also studying and she was someone who my Mom always compared me to and I obviously very proudly looked really vague compared to her. She is the kind of girl who follows the rules of society and in every way traditional as you can imagine. I on the other hand can make people happy as well as the same time question our society’s ethics and morals when it comes to defining beauty.
Now there is a buzz in the family for 6ft tall men. Wow. No matter what is your profession if you are 6ft tall, my family will pamper you not just my parents but my entire clan. They will literally feed you roshmolai (Hindi: Rasmalai). It is the wedding season so I see arranged marriages and as well as love happening all around me so you can imagine how much pressure is it on a girl who likes someone who is not 6ft or 5ft 9 inch? Yes, the pressure is real. Gone are the days when the beauty of girl only mattered, now a man’s height matters. One of my college friends said about this certain guy we were talking about and she said something which was offensive but true. She said “Who will marry him? He always drinks sugary drinks eventhough he is obese. Now girls also want handsome boys.” I was like “Wow.” I am probably too shy to even evaluate a man whether it is social media or offline. I am the most awkward person and I always tell my Father when a guy even greets me. Just to let them know if I get murdered who they should be looking for. You never know what a random street guy is capable of. You have to take precautions.
I don’t know why I turned out to be the person who has a lot of opinions. Hence, my mother makes sure that I don’t say anything beyond greeting in family gatherings in Bangladesh. She will just give me that look with her eyes which clearly indicates I need to leave the room as soon as possible.
You see they also define the characteristics you should have which makes you beautiful. What is the perfect definition of inner beauty? It is simple the upright moral character of our Prophet Muhammad sall Allaahu alayhi wa sallam. Therefore sometimes we need to take it easy. There is no point in being defensive. Let your actions do the talking. Walk the talk.
All these low self esteem issues comes from social media. We are exposed to everyone’s lives and somehow they seem to have a lot more fun than we are. We look at people with a caked face and we think “Wow! She is pretty. I wish I was like her.” We seem to live in an illusion of digital media where everything can be made to look better with a snapchat filter. You instantly feel happy when there is a flower crown on your head. So who is defining your definition of beauty? It is the people who you follow and ‘stalk’ on Instagram or snapchat. You are living in a bubble if you think they look perfect but actually everyone would like to look happy and gorgeous in their pictures. But you need to reflect if I take off all these makeup and glitter off my face will I be able to still face people with confidence? Can I greet guests in my house wearing nothing on my face? Is my confidence and my body image imprisoned in my concealer?
I had a very cute child who was a huge part of our family and she was dark. She used to tell us that she wants to wear makeup because in her family everyone calls her black: only her Dad says she is beautiful and imagine you are applying makeup for a 5 year old to boost her confidence to make her feel that if she applies powder and looks a shade lighter than her skin tone then everyone will consider her beautiful? My heart used to tear apart every time she would insist that we apply makeup on her. I don’t own a contour kit. Therefore I am out of the makeup game. A girl told me “You cover your face, what would you know?” Believe me women judge us more than men. We don’t dress up to compete with men, we put up a show to keep up with the women of our generation.
You can only look beautiful when you have confidence. You could be the most prettiest/ handsome person in your neighbourhood but if you are not satisfied with what Allaah has blessed you with, no one will be pleased with how you look. Everyone will try to put you down. Remember people don’t know your insecurities unless you point it out to them. Last year a lady told me “Sumaiya can you notice a difference in my nose?” I thought she might have fallen and she is asking if it looks okay so I responded “Yes it looks swollen.” She replied “I got a nose plastic surgery last week because I was not satisfied with how my nose looked.” I was dumbfounded because if she hadn’t told me, I wouldn’t notice it. Now I always stare at her nose. I can’t help it, I am sorry.