|Earlier, chota Ragini looked swollen sometimes.Now, she looks plain savage.|
On the day that marks my entrance into adulthood (28th March), I would like to tell you a secret of mine. Well, it's not really a secret, almost everyone goes through this: INSECURITIES.
I spent a major part of my life pretending that I didn't have the problems that I had with myself, just to avoid being placed in the "typical self-obsessed and concerned teenager" category. That, probably being consonant with my usual lifestyle of just being non-conformist, different, and not accepting a lot of things society hurled at me. I was surprised to find myself actually caring about these things and felt the best way to be my normal self would be to act how I would with other things: not care.
My insecurities started at the age of 11, when I realised my feet were starting to look a lot like those of one of my relative's, whose feet I didn't particularly like. At the time, I felt my feet were crooked in all the places they were "meant" to be straight, and straight in all the places they were "meant" to be subtly curved, defining the accurate shape and angles of each dimension of what feet are supposed to look like by seeing other people's feet. I hid my feet in socks and shoes, telling people I just preferred that style. I would tell myself to love my feet for what they were, "Ragini, they carry around all your fat and weight, take you to your favourite places; just appreciate them man."
At the age of 12, two new body-image related issues cropped up, and I suddenly didn't like the shape of my now beloved nose and still fatty calves. They seemed short and stout, felt clumpy. "Ragini, your nose helps you smell all the amazing food mama makes, and your calves helps you run towards it." My attempts to sleep would get disturbed by my utter disappointment in myself for being so deeply affected by these apparent problems. I was actually embarrassed of suddenly having all the puberty issues everyone always complained about. I thought I was above all that, against being the stereotyped and angsty teenager.
I didn't want to dwell in my insecurities. So, I pretended like I had none.
|No shits to give.|
I realise this probably sounds incredibly negative, but read me out. There is a theory on "self-efficacy" that if one believes that he/she has the skills required for a particular task, he/she actually gets better at handling the pressures of that stress, slowly and steadily. Unless of course, you believe that you're an assassin, which you're probably not, so you believing in that fantasy will not lead you to waking up one day with the skills of Black Widow. I was not aware of this theory at the age of 12, and just went about my life pretending to not have a care in the world about my looks, even though everyone around me was going through the exact same phase, and was openly sharing it with his/her friends.
At the age of 13, I started criticising my hands. They seemed crooked, and the pinky and ring finger just seemed to have a weird distance between them, one that I couldn't see in other people's "beautiful" hands. I liked the colour of my hands though, so I found solace in that, and again, didn't say a word.
At 14, I got conscious of my smile. I had bunny teeth, and pictures of a goofy faced Ragini covered the walls of my home. I got braces to fix that, which I had on for a span of exactly 2 years, during which I smiled carefully, not wanting to show people my wires. I regret not smiling those few months, after which I got tired of it and just let go.
Skip to the apparently sweet 16, I noticed 3 things -
1) I had a vein slightly off centre on my forehead that would make a special appearance every time I laughed. And I laugh, a lot. I have secretly tried to massage my forehead in one direction to try to shift my vein back to the centre. I soon realised it was useless and just hoped nobody was looking at my forehead while I laughed, but only at my recently de-braced smile which I flashed openly now.
3) My skin tone didn't fit one category. I wasn't someone you could call dark-skinned, nor was I fair. I wasn't even properly wheatish. I am a mix of a rose red and and desert sand, resulting in me looking like a tomato the minute I stepped into the sun.
I would joke about my appearance of course, and people thought I was only indulging in self-derogatory humour. As I said earlier, I pretended to be confident and comfortable, modest but not outright calling myself "ugly" either. People actually fell for it, and "how are you so comfortable in your skin?" was a question I was often being asked. They assumed and asked whether and how I didn't spend my time in front of a mirror, gaping at my insecurities. I laugh, thinking "I don't need a mirror anymore, I've memorised them. Need only close my eyes these days."
And at the age of 17, I decided my eyelashes weren't long "enough", and if my thighs were wider than the width of 3/4th of the chair I was sitting on, I had a problem. I didn't do much about it. I didn't do much about any of these things, just sat and waited for the day when the true intellectual Ragini will wake up within me and tell stupid, insecure Ragini that she was being an idiot.
Half way past 17 years of age, she did.
I think mainly out of exhaustion of insecure Ragini, my eyes were suddenly viewing myself, and the people I knew, very differently. I saw elements of beauty in everything. And that feeling is so nice to have. My feet are unique now, not ugly. My nose is long now, just like Mughal queens. My calves are still stout, but I realised stout isn't a bad thing. My hands are flexible, feel artistic. My smile shows the world what I feel like. My vein adds character to my face, like all the other features and scars on my body. My eyebrows are now exactly what the trend is in the fashion world. My tomato face is often mistaken for makeup, and my skin tone is called "rose-gold". I was recently asked by a friend to model for her sister's enterprise. My eyelashes are perfect the way they are. My thighs however, still need a few squats. But, they're still mine.
I now live a fairly "insecurity-free" life, at least to the extent of my body. I do workout off and on, and yes, it was initially to lose weight. Out of sheer laziness and lack of outcome, I changed my reason for working out to "living a healthy, balanced, and physically active life." It sounded better to me then, but now, not embarrassed of telling you all that yes, I would like to run to lose weight too, and everyone leading the life of a couch potato who can't see past their belly, or can't fit into pants they bought three months ago, should do so too. I got braces for my satisfaction, and if you have crooked teeth but no shits to give, I'm extremely envious of you and hope you continue down that path. A classmate of mine absolutely loving my red face is the main reason I have been able to like it too. She gushed over my blush. You should go out of your way to compliment people, you never know how much it can help. Also, complimenting someone on a skill or style of theirs can also make a persons day, you've got no idea what all that person could be thinking about him/herself. I pretended, till I believed (and I recently realised that I'm an excellent actor). If you can, try to be aware and showcase your feelings. My method worked for me, it may not for other people. I still don't have high self-esteem, but I do have self-respect, with which I know that my body is brilliant the way it is, regardless of what anyone else has to say. Any modifications I want to make, will also result in my body being brilliant if I feel so.
|Agree with me? Like the post :)|
If you have body hair, and don't want to remove it, DON'T. If you have body hair, and want to remove it, DO IT. I remove hair because I love the soft skin I get for a good month. Don't shame people for not getting hair removed, nor for still sticking to social norms and getting their hair removed.You think a plastic surgery will boost your confidence? DO IT. You think makeup makes you look fake? DON'T DO IT. But don't stop the people who believe in both makeup as an art, and plastic surgery as something that helps them transform themselves.
You know how they say that an outfit will look good if worn with confidence? Wear your first layer of clothing well, accept and love your skin; your external clothing will fall right in place.
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" is a statement I've recently fallen in love with, after falling in love with myself.
- Ragini Zutshi Anand
And yes, it is my birthday on the 28th March.
Credits: Family, friends, for making me who I am.
Actual credits: Thanks papa for photographs of chota Ragini :D
Please, please, please like and share this post, and share your own stories with me!