My daughter asks me am I beautiful? I am stunned by this question. Because I have been asking myself this question “Am I beautiful?” for as long as I remember. As a child, as a young lady and now as a mother who is about to finish four decades on this planet.
I first wondered about this question when I read the Brothers Grimm fairy tales as a small child.
“Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?”
Then came the Fair and Lovely commercial which taught me that brown skin wasn’t lovely, while fair skin was. And only applying fair and lovely made you fairer and thus prettier.
I circled back to the mirror on the wall and wondered – did fairest mean most beautiful or most white?
After all Snow White was white and hence beautiful. Looking at my dirty brown skin, I knew I was neither fair nor beautiful.
As I grew up, I had numerous occasions to ponder about the question and ask myself am I beautiful.
When it was time to get married, a concerned family member exclaimed – how will you get married in this fairness crazy country of ours? You are neither “very very” fair nor milky white. Another suggested – drink turmeric milk and apply saffron on your skin to be fairer and more beautiful.
My husband told me after we got married – I fell for you not for your skin colour but for the beautiful person you are.
My daughter tells me I am the most beautiful person in the world. And I light up. Motherhood makes you beautiful.
Then one day while playing together, she touched my skin and then hers, and asked me, “My skin is more brown than yours. I want to be brown like you.”
I asked, “Why?”
“Because you are beautiful and I want to be beautiful like you,” she said, her tiny mouth drooping a bit in a sulk. Then she asks “Am I beautiful?”
It was time I had that talk with her. It was time I gave her the wisdom I had collected over the years.
I told her –
You are like dark chocolate (she loves it), isn’t that something to cherish about? Also, beauty is not defined by your skin colour because it’s not for you to choose, but by the soul you have.
You are beautiful if
- You are kind. You think about, worry about and care for others.
- You are a loyal friend. Loyalty is a scarce commodity and loyal friends are found one in a thousand. Everyone craves for a loyal friend but not many get one.
- You respect yourself and others for the way they are and the way they act or react.
- You go the extra mile to help people.
- You smile even when there is nothing to smile about and make the best out of every situation.
You are beautiful now, but you will be more beautiful if you have all these qualities.
I don’t know if she understood me, she gave me a gap-toothed grin. I know I will have to repeat this at every stage till she is able fully understand, till she never has to ask – Am I beautiful?