Wednesday, June 21, 2006

My mirror is Me

"I'm fat"
"I'm just not beautiful"
"He'll never ask me out"
Sounds like the typical teenage angst. All of us can identify with it, on some level. We can understand that need to belong, to feel accepted and to be liked and loved by those around us. Sooner or later, we all find comfort in our own skin and the self-acceptance issue is dismissed as 'just a phase'. So I thought. And I was wrong.
Everybody has issues. I had mine. At one point of time, I looked at myself as if I were this horrible looking beast. But then, it passed. Other important things took its place and life moved on. I was lucky. I realise now.
Its a common belief that it is only teenage girls who suffer from such self perceptions. Its the puberty setting in. Suddenly you are aware of the opposite sex and you realise that guys don't have the 'cooties' you once thought they did, and the mud they once used to eat did do them good. You realise that eye makeup grabs attention and lipstick holds it. Then you grow wiser and realise that too much make up makes slutty and you are best being you. You realise 'boyfriends' are not 'trophies' to be won but a nice 'accessory' to your life. You are aware of the responsibilities you have towards yourself, your parents and your friends. Your dreams are now your goals and your ambitions are your life. You hold your head high, walk with confidence, serene and content with yourself. You look into the mirror. It reflects what you feel. My mirror is ME

For most girls, this is the normal transition from a 'naive doll to a woman'. And for some, its not quite that easy.

I had heard of girls abusing themselves to the extent of turning anorexic or bulimic. Ballerinas and models were the constant victims of these diseases. I had read stories of girls struggling with not so petite figures and the disgust they felt in a bathing suit. Stories of some having broken mirrors because they could not stand looking at themselves. I had relentlessly tried to talk my friends out of going on the "quick way to a slimmer you" diet. And while all this was depressing, I don't think the magnitude of the whole 'body beautiful' hype struck me until I saw a four year old CHILD dieting on peaches and plums because she was afraid she'll grow fat and hence ugly.

And if that weren't shocking enough, another even younger girl threw tantrums when her mother refused to let her use makeup. A cute 3 year old is using foundation, eye liner and lipstick to make herself feel pretty or refusing to get out of the house?!

Where is this stemming from? Can it be dismissed as one unnatural case? I don't think so. If it were just something I saw on T.V., I'd be inclined to do so. Unfortunately it's not. The amount of young girls going through mental depression due to lack of self esteem is disturbing. And the age bracket of such victims is not limited to teens but includes infants!
Why such self hatred? Suicidal urges? Desperate need to twist oneself in a pretzel? Blind in seeing, rather acknowledging the fact that you are good looking, talented and worthy? Security in hiding behind a bitchy, slutty or snobbish facade? Why Why Why? Why does plastic beauty gain a precedence over gods given gift? Why do pursed full lips have an edge over normal 'functional' lips? And why are silicon implants still a popularity given the risk they could pose in breast cancer detection?

Why is such an unrealistic ideal of the feminine form being propounded? Why is unblemished skin, a 36-24-36, and long legs being used to advertise a car, a commodity which is used by both the sexes? Why are most of these advertisements made through a male lens, though it targets women also? Leads to a male chauvinistic perception of women as sex symbols, doncha think?
If you happen to be one of those who finds the entire advertising aspirational, and appreciate the aesthetic attractiveness, then good for you. But what about those who suffer from disoriented social expectations?
Psychologists give detailed explanations. They prescribe medications and advice you to go to shrinks. But is solution really in the 'doctored' help?

Why can't we project in society, chuck society, within ourselves a healthy mental image over a Barbie doll image? It's said, that if Barbie's proportions were translated into a human figure, there would be no space for a stomach in a waist that tiny. And yet, every young girl is fascinated by a Barbie. Why do we allow it?Why do we have only one Sophie Dahl who defies the stick thin image and emerges to be a successful model?
Is the solution such a blur? Probably. But then again isn't the root of all this a mere lack of self respect? If parents took a keen interest in their children, wouldn't it instill self love? Healthy family dynamics have always resulted in strong, confident individuals. And, corny as it sounds, if we'd compliment those around us, even once, it'd help boost an ego. Notice people around and you and acknowledge them. Hasn't a smile lingered on your face slightly longer when someone has genuinely told you how great you look? And it's not about laying it on thick.When you sense some kind of distress, it doesn't cost much to ease it off by being nice. Feels nice too. Trust me.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

At 20

Two decades old.
The tens place of my age changed.

I felt that was reason enough to celebrate.

I expected to wake up feeling a sense of maturity, some amount of calm and I probably would have , if I had slept the night. But since I woke up with no such feelings, I decided to delve into other aspects of my personality to discover what was the 'twenty' in me. It's funny how many faults you discover about yourself when you seriously consider self evaluation. Which is why that was the first and last time I'm ever doing it.

But probably the more entertaining part of turning 20 was the reactions I got from everyone around me.

My parents emphasized the responsibilities I would now have to share in the house. But then again, I had heard that at 19, 18, 17, 16.... but somehow at 20 they thought it would get through. comments.

My relatives had a hard time accepting it. Actually, they just have a hard time believing I'm growing. It seems it easier to remember me as 4 year old than otherwise, because I always seem to elicit reactions like "My god! You are how old?", "You grew up soo fast!", "Last time I saw you, you were hardly 4!"

My friends taunted me on the fact that I was no more a teen. That wasn't enough however. It extended to include my single status and inability to like alcohol. And I have a feeling I'm going to be hearing that for quite a few years. Sometimes, I wish they'll just deem me useless and leave it at that. But then again, I had also wished I'd landed first on the moon.

All in all, it was a great day! Almost no one forgot. Well, a certain someone did. But I have given her enough heat, so I'll hold my peace now. Yes, maturity comes at 20. Lucky you.

Anyway, on a serious note, the 'going on 20' year did teach me a thing or two.

I have learned....

I'm my biggest strength. And my biggest critic.

Things can go very very wrong.

When things do go wrong, very few people stick by you. Yes, those people are crazy but they love you very much. English terms them as Family.

Certain things occur in an instant but have long lasting effects. You might not be the same again. But better.

Opinions will never cease to exist.

People will talk. They will advise. That does not mean they know you better than you do.

Best friends rock.

Purple does not have to be the new pink.

Sometimes, you just have to hang in there.

Your nose does stop growing at 20.

Smiling and laughing does wonders to your popularity.

You are worth it.

It is unfair. It does suck. But it is not forever.

It goes sleep, food and studies. Any other order gives you gases.

People who believe in you, will continue believing. Those who don't, don't matter.

Somethings are just not worth it. Leave it.

Some people also are just not worth it.

Mom's always right. And Dad does know the computer better.

Many will find you weird. And it might not be because of your nose.

Success changes definitions.

There are bigger things happening in this world.

Backs are not fond of high heels.

Guys are still just as stupid. Some are better looking.

Hypocrisy is common.

It's fine if it's not fatal.
It does not have to be personal.

Confidence sails.

Paranoia is not fun.

To breathe.