“Beauty is not skin deep” – Part I

Hi everyone! I am back with a new series. Body postivity has forever been an issue I deeply associate with for all the right and wrong reasons. From myself being skinny shamed or embarrassed about my tan and acne to even casually being judgmental about other people. It is that one thing we all have deeply internalized. The greatest win is to become conscious of these biases and judgements and shed it off.

Living in the world where these dictates and standards of beauty has been drilled into our heads since forever, it is understandable if you have been subjected to it too. The idea is to become aware of it and not perpetuate it further.

In this new series, I will be sharing stories of people who have battled society’s set beauty standards and are preaching self love and self acceptance in its truest sense. These people have truly inspired me.

The first feature of this series is Paushali Majumder. She is a digital content specialist working in a corporate house besides successfully running a fashion blog, 84 Bongully.

https://84bongully.wordpress.com/

PAUSHALI MAJUMDER

I am a dark-skinned girl who grew up in a small town. I went to a convent school and there we were often taught how to groom our personalities into being quintessentially beautiful and lady-like. Stereotyped behaviour norms attached to our gender were constantly preached. I imbibed as much as I could. But often contemplated on how I might not just be good enough.
Young girls could get really mean with their words and I’ve only been a victim of such a case. I feared people calling me names condescendingly. I reached a point when I realized that passing lewd remarks on dark skinned women had become a regular affair. I could sense the feeling of superiority in fair skinned girls who demeaned me for my skin colour, calling me names – Kali, Kalti, etc . And it wasn’t only just young girls!

There have been older women who’ve always raised a concern to my mother on how I am growing darker with time, and how she should not let me go out in the sun, etc. There’ve been my own relatives who’ve greeted me on my vacation visits by pointing out that I have grown a shade darker than the last time. Time and again, people made me feel inferior because I had dark skin. There came a point when I made peace with the fact that I might be the most unattractive out of all my friends.

I smothered my face with talcum powder to grow a tad bit fairer than what I am. I gave up on wearing brighter shades of clothes. I was forced to shave my arms at such a tender age only because my boyfriend joked at me for being hairy and unladylike. Imagine a little girl trying all means to look nice and pretty just to fit in a group! Today when I look back at my teenage, I regret being so vulnerable. I wish I never grew up appeasing people, conforming to stereotyped beauty standards. But I am glad I have been able to stay put all this while.

Even after moving to Calcutta, similar things still continued to happen. But having been exposed to literature that celebrated women of all colour, shapes, and sizes at a latter half of my teenage years, I took no refuge in hiding my individuality from anyone anymore. In fact, I started giving all those people a piece of my mind whenever they tried putting me down unreasonably. Today, I have gone back to flaunting my tan skin without any powder patches on my neckline, wearing bold bright colours like a boss, and stepping out for work with unshaved arms if need be. That’s my victory!

The journey with my body has been extremely private and special; more so because I have always fed my mind with the right knowledge. As women, we often tend to assess situations emotionally and this is where many of us start seeing ourselves through others’ eyes. We start believing what others want us to believe. But I have slightly been of a different kind. No matter how much I have been bullied or shamed, I never let anybody affect my pride and self-confidence. In quite a few instances I have felt discomfort contemplating people’s opinions, but never have I ever pushed myself into being depressed for what I am. I held on to my belief that my body is my pride, my unique sense of individuality, and my pride is my strongest source of energy. I should never be apologetic for that.

Nurturing a loving relationship with our bodies seems like the only legit relationship to work on in current times. Living in a world where throwing harsh remarks at women for being ugly, fat, thin or dark has become a phenomenon, we, women need to start showing ourselves the way to feel liberated – not through anyone else’s help but rather all on our own. We do not need others to call us beautiful. Instead, we need to start listening to our own voices. We need to start reminding ourselves every single day that each of us is unique, precious and beautiful in our own ways. Our bodies are our shrines, let us never deprioritize that.

When I was a child, all I could do to deal with people body-shaming me was scribble my emotions on paper. Quite funnily it helped me release my entire burden in a jiffy. Things haven’t really changed much even today. I have been lucky enough to be raised as a clear-headed expressive woman. Maybe that’s why I could always fight back helplessness without being completely torn apart. Maybe that’s why writing chose me too. You may say that I have been a decent survivor.

I think Social Media has evolved as one of the most impactful platforms to influence people into chasing the right direction, and I, as a social media influencer want to do as much as I could to help people not just think out of the box but simply break the box. I am a dark-skinned, chubby and okayish on the outside kind of a woman working in a corporate setup and running a fashion & lifestyle blog with over 11,000 followers in just one and a half years simultaneously. I feel proud to be able to share my story with all of you only because of social media. I represent any other real woman who is not the picture-perfect kind. Neither do I have a perfect body nor a flawless skin to flaunt. But in spite of all the shortcomings that I have, I have managed to reach out to at least a few out of thousands of women who maybe, just like me, are challenging the definite standards of true beauty.

Honestly, I think social media is not just a platform to buy and sell. I think social media has a voice of its own. If we, as women, as a collective voice speak the same language and act the same way to break bigger barriers of catcalling and body-shaming together, we are certain to bring about a worthy change the world needs to see.

All images provided by Paushali Majumder.

Title suggestion courtesy to my dear friend, Ranjini.

I cannot thank Paushali enough for sharing her story with us. You are so so beautiful inside out. Your journey of self love and self acceptance is going to inspire so many others who might be thinking their weight or stretch marks or skin colour limits their beauty in any way. Wish you all the luck and love for that you do in life. Keep spreading your love and positivity.

With love,
Prakshi.
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