Growing up in India can be tough especially if you're a woman. Over the years, we've heard and seen some downright ridiculous things being ingrained into young women's minds and today, I'm here to (hopefully) alter that perception! I don't know about you but I've grown up around people who seem to have really strange notions about what's beautiful and what isn't. Everybody right from your parlour lady to that baaju waali aunty seem to know what's best for you and what will make you 'more beautiful'.
You have to be fair to be beautiful, women must have long hair, you should get rid of body hair... all of this hits close to home doesn't it? I bet we've all heard these things at some point in our lives. Most of us have been subjected to these unrealistic beauty standards and some of us end up giving into peer pressure. It's hard to believe that there are still so many men and women whose perceptions of beauty are so shallow!
On the occasion of Women's Day, we'd like to celebrate these beautiful, strong women who are redefining beauty standards across the globe!
To all the people who believe that your skin colour defines your beauty, check out Deepika Mutyala. She is an Indian-American beauty influencer who started off as a YouTuber and recently branched out to launch a new venture called Tinted. As the name suggests, Tinted was founded to encourage, embrace and celebrate women of colour and all the shades in between. On her channel, Deepica has always spoken openly about her hyperpigmentation, dusky skin and constantly promotes body and skin positivity.
To all the aunties who shunned us for wearing bright bold lipsticks. Nia Sharma, an Indian television actress shows us how it's done. She's rocked every shade of colour from black to lavender and has been absolutely unapologetic about her choices. Your choices of lip colour don't determine your character, so you do you!
Harnaam Kaur is an influencer who calls herself the Queen of the #beardgang. A motivational speaker, a body positivity influencer, a social activist and a woman before it all, Harnaam prides herself in her facial hair. For many women, excessive facial hair can be genetic or even caused by hormones. The struggle is real and the insecurities it causes can be heartbreaking. A lot of us are plagued with insecurities about men finding facial hair on women repulsive and deeming us unattractive. We go out of our way to get rid of it and are embarassed when our threading appointments are overdue. We need more women like Harnaam to show us that beauty is not defined by our lack of facial or body hair.
'Muscles are for men, why do you want to look masculine?' An aunty once told me when I was trying to lose weight and get lean. This stereotype about lean women looking masculine needs to be put to rest! There's nothing masculine or emasculating about a woman who's fit and decides to wear her art on her sleeve. VJ Bani, popularly known from her stint on MTV Roadies is constantly regarded as bold, rude and outspoken. She's never shied away from speaking her mind or expressing herself and neither should you. Her dedication to working out and getting a body she's proud of is inspirational AF. Don't put on a show, it's important to be true to who you are.
I was in college when I first cut all my hair off and rocked a pixie cut. I vividly recall the varied reactions, most of them leaning towards me looking like a tomboy. Not like there's anything wrong with that. I just remember spending weeks wondering if I'd made a mistake. Sapna Moti Bhavnani, now a celebrity hairstylist and the woman behind the Mad-O-Wat salon is an inspiration to many women who want to creatively express themselves. I just wish there were more such women and salons around that empowered us instead of bringing us down! There's an entire industry built on those insecurities you have.
It's about time we taught all those salons and aunties, waiting to prey on our insecurities, a lesson. I love my 'tanned skin' and 'excessive body hair', so SHUT UP, you're NOT getting my money!
The world, today, is so filtered that we can barely read between the lines. With the millions of apps and filters to give your skin the illusion of perfection, a lot of young teenagers are depressed and insecure. Celebrities like Chrissy Teigen are an inspiration. She casually shares photos of herself on Instagram with stretch marks, breastfeeding her babies and of her perfectly-imperfect skin. This just goes to prove that we're ALL flawed, instead of obsessing over your flaws and letting them define you, embrace them gracefully. Acne, scars, stretch marks, curves are all real problems that every one of us face. Kendall Jenner, Eva Longoria, Britney Spears, Rihanna are just some celebrities who have been spotted with acne on red carpets, and that's OKAY! It's all a part and parcel of life, don't let anyone tell you that you're not beautiful.
I've known a friend who got burnt at an unfortunate accident during Diwali. Some 20 surgeries and a permanently disfigured body later, the insecurities are real. Whenever we go out together, people stare or scare. That became a defining moment for him and whenever something bad happened, he automatically blamed it on the scars. Anmol Rodriguez is a similar story. Anmol was in her mother's lap when her father threw acid at her mother. While her mother didn't survive, Anmol made it her life's mission to relinquish all these superficial norms about beauty. She's an acid attack survivor and a motivational speaker and a social activist for those who share her struggle.
This Women's day lets pledge to empower, inspire and support each other!
Featured Image: Deepica Mutyala on Instagram
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