Hope you’re all doing well.
I recently came across something that Alok V Menon shared on his social media account. And, oh boy! I think every soul walking, breathing and living on this planet needs to read it. And read it over and over again.
BEAUTY IS NO LONGER IN THE EYES OF THE BEHOLDER. BEAUTY IS LOOKING LIKE YOURSELF
One of the life’s paradoxes is that we are encouraged to “be ourselves” but are often punished when we do.Alok V Menon
When I first told my grandmother I was transgender se responded, “How could you do this to me?” In her eyes my journey was about hurting her, not about healing myself. She eventually passed on without ever seeing me as myself. At her funeral I had to dress as the man she wanted me ti be. I wept:for her, and for me.
Despite constant invalidation, so many transgender people transition because we know there is a quiet and fierce dignity to being able to look at yourself and say “this is who I am.”
Marginalised people learn from an early age that beauty is often about power. We see the fair, thin and gender-conforming among us called “beautiful”, while the rest of us are meant to spend or entire lives aspiring to be like them.
It’s time for a new beauty paradigm.
Beauty is about looking like yourself, even in the face of social and cultural repression. Accessing this beauty can feel impossible in a system that rewards conformity over creativity. But, in my experience, a commitment to honest self-actualisation yields unparalleled peace and conviction.
As a visibly gender non-conforming person, I often receive unsolicited advise about my appearance. One time a complete stranger came up to me on the street and said, “You’d look ore convincing if you just shaved. Let me buy you a razor.” The sight of me walking with my head high- brown, bearded, a dn in a bold red lip- was too much for them. Like so many, this person mistook their insecurity as my own.
In moments like these I think about how dangerous beauty can be.
Why do engrained beauty standards so often require some of us to become invisible in order to make other people feel more comfortable? Beauty has a way of justifying violation in the name of benevolence. It gives legitimacy to the way that we police and restrict one another’s appearance. “I’m just doing this to help.” The presumption is always, “Why wouldn’t anyone want to be beautiful?”
But whose standards of beauty are we required to adhere to?
Normative beauty is insecure. if it was universal and just, it would not need to be constantly proven. Different ways of looking wold not be seen as a treat, just another way of being.
For so long I lived my life within society’s constraints of who I was supposed to be. it didn’t work, I yearned for a way of being that was more consistent with what I felt, not what I had been told.
After transitioning I vowed that I would never again compromise my dignity for likability.
Although I am constantly harassed for it, i am able to keep going because I know who I am…
Irrespective of which box we check under the gender section,
Irrespective of which skin tone we identify with,
Irrespective of what our hight weight and talent is,
Irrespective of our nationality and age,
Irrespective of every other scale that is created to measure us against,
Irrespective of everything… we are all wired in such a twisted manner to compare ourselves to the prescribed standard of beauty. Beauty of the physique, beauty of the character and appearance, beauty of what’s right and wrong, beauty of your diet…
I mean if I am created unique then how come my beauty has to abide with the narrative dictated by a handful?
There are nights I’ve lost sleep over my dark circles. Only to be treated to a warm cup of tea and a reminder “you earned them because you weren’t afraid to burn the night oil to go after what you wanted.” Then why feel bad about them? Shouldn’t I just be proud of them just like a soldier os proud of my scars; they are proof of his fights and victory. Then the bags under my eyes are proof of my hardworking and willingness.
I’ve fretted the few extra kilos and that muffin top I always sport. But hey, how can I forget that I savour food. I’m well with the normal BMI for my body and I am a healthy functioning adult- isn’t that something to be grateful for?
There is always something. The short ones wish for height and the tall ones wish for a day of no back pain. The anorexic ones wish for good health and the healthy ones are always counting calories. The ones that lack melanin are so easily sun-burnt while the melanin rich have a complex. The ones with flowy straight hair wish for curls and the ones with waves are busy blowdrying and straightening.
Can we please stop feeling that we are not enough. Because if you aren’t then nothing and no one can make you enough.