I’ve tried quite a number of things in the last few years to try and get to the promised land of clear skin. That dewy, soft, blemish-free skin that stands as proof to the world that you are living your best life. You know, the kind that says that you are at peace with your inner self. But I’m slowly coming to accept that maybe there’s no mask or moisturiser or cleanser that will get me where I want to be. That no matter how many litres of water I drink every day or how many fresh veggies and fruits I consume, I will still have to contend with the acne scars on my cheeks and regular pimple marking a spotlight on my forehead. Maybe knowing that my inner self is healthy and happy is okay. Or is it?

It’s only natural to want to look your best. I challenge any one who thinks that caring about looks is vain. Screw the platitudes thrown around about “inner beauty”. Inner beauty is great and all, but I think we can all agree that physical looks are a shared source of insecurities universally. Perfection is lauded as the true peak of beauty that we should all strive towards. Society has held on to the monopoly of beauty definitions and standards for far too long.

Are you really beautiful if you don’t have long, bouncy, silky hair going past your shoulders? [Picture a thousand different shampoo commercials] Are you really beautiful if your skin is not glowing and flawless?
Or your eyebrows perfectly defined? [Remember: sisters, not twins] Are you really beautiful if your body is not slim but curvy in “all the right places”?

Trying to live up to these standards is exhausting and frankly can drive one mad. I am making the decision to choose differently. I am choosing to live a healthy and joyful life. To appreciate my body for what it is even as I work towards improving my physical self. To speak with kindness and gentleness about myself. To be mindful of my intentions as I experiment with modifying my external image, be it through hair & make-up, working out or whatever else. And hopefully to be part of the narrative expanding the definition of what beauty looks like. I hope you’ll join me on this journey too.

[Images c/o Dominique Shepherd, Ajak Deng and Sarah Waiswa]

PS: Check out this excellent essay on the lack of inclusivity in the Body Positivity movement

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