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Her words on my looks made me feel so insecure and underconfident. I must mention the timing was also very wrong. I was not well at that time.
“Please don’t mind but you have lost the charm, you’re not beautiful anymore. You look ‘bichdi’ (disgusting). Listen to me before it’s too late, just get married.”
These were the words of a relative of mine, who called me to wish me Happy Holi.
Ironically there was nothing happy in her wish.
This was not the first time she said such harsh words to me but the difference was that this time she crossed all the limits. I was appalled by her choice of words — ‘bichdi’ (she said in Bengali which means disgusting).
She is a close relative of mine. After my Master’s degree, she has been after me to get married. That didn’t bother me much but what used to bother me was the fact that she would pass comments on my looks and try to instil insecurities in me regarding my looks.
All this to get me ready for marriage.
So, I stopped all forms of interaction with her to protect myself from her unsolicited advice. But she is a close relative of mine, I am sometimes left with no option but to face her.
Before this phone call on Holi, she met me at a family function since I was extremely busy that day so she didn’t get a chance to interact with me. But it was just a matter of time.
She called my mom to convey Holi wishes (they celebrated Holi on that day and we celebrated the next day) and asked her to give the phone to me.
I wished her, she wished me but all of a sudden she started with what am I thinking of my future now? And started with her typical unsolicited advice, “Puja, please don’t mind but you have lost the charm, you’re not beautiful anymore. You look ‘bichdi’ (disgusting). Listen to me before it’s too late, just get married.”
I was speechless! I didn’t say a word. More precisely, I couldn’t say a word. I was hurt. Very hurt.
There was complete silence but she continued saying, “Look whatever this choto-that, era-gera kaaj (worthless work) you’re doing, you can do that even after getting married. I told your brother to take it seriously and get you married, your beauty has already faded away.”
I broke down in tears but I did give her a reply to the comment she made on my career choice. By saying choto-that, era-gera kaaj she referred to freelancing.
I am a freelance Content and Copywriter and I worship my profession. Although I couldn’t reply to her harsh comments on my looks I somehow managed to give a stern reply to her comments on my career choice, I had to.
Her words on my looks made me feel so insecure and underconfident. I must mention the timing was also very wrong. I was not well at that point. I had been losing weight, too.
Later, I decided to go to the doctor and the reports weren’t that good. This means I was internally going through something that might have reflected on my face.
I never felt so discouraged and humiliated like the way I felt that day.
I straight away went to my mom and broke down in tears uttering exactly these words, “Do I look ugly, please tell me na. I will not celebrate Holi tomorrow, I will not wear the lehenga I thought of wearing tomorrow. I don’t dare to face anyone.”
My mom hugged me and wiped my tears. She gave me all the assurance she could but I was inconsolably crying. My mom had to call my grandmother and my aunts (we live in the same building) and they somehow could console me.
This outburst was a long due because before also I got such harsh comments on my looks from the same person on multiple occasions and also from another relative of mine and it was their way of encouraging me to get married.
No matter how strong I was, I couldn’t ignore these thoughts and they started to have their effect on me — I started to believe their narrative and consider myself ugly.
I am really glad that on that day I didn’t hold my emotions and let them flow. Most importantly, I shared it with my family.
I am glad I cried my heart out because with those tears all the insecurities also washed away.
I decided to get up, and get dressed the best I could for Holi the next day, and here is a picture of mine from Holi 2021!
Image source: Author
Every time I look at this picture, it gives me power — this picture stands as proof of a defeat of their false narrative. They tried so hard to make me believe something which was far from the truth, and I almost believed them.
I am glad that I broke down and expressed everything to my family. While I was expressing, I was hearing my own words, I, myself was realizing the gravity of the effect it had on me.
The thing is, some people don’t realize the kind of impact their words can have on someone. Furthermore, what they also don’t realize is that you never know who is going through what situation. Some people just lack empathy.
I came out of their false narrative, I know I am beautiful and above all a far better human being than them.
I celebrate my beauty, I celebrate my life choices and I celebrate my age!
I am 28, I am unmarried, and I am beautiful.
Image credit: Still from short film Meeting UPSC Girl, Monk Creations/YouTube and Authors album
I'm a freelance Content & Copywriter and I love that but at first, I'm a writer. I've slowly started to realize my power as a writer, and I intend to use it thoughtfully!
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I recommend reading Manjiri Indurkar's Origami Aai alongside her memoir to have a fulfilling and enriching experience of telling one's story with grace.
It’s All In Your Head, M famed author Manjiri Indurkar’s debut poetry collection, Origami Aai, is independent and yet an extension of her memoir in which she speaks with utmost grace about all forms of abuses that she has survived. In this book of intriguing and evocative poems, the poet weaves words to form images of the everyday life of her middle-class family, love found and lost, trauma, and healing.
The collection is divided into four segments, beginning with the family, slowly moving towards the world, and finally colliding them together.
We aren’t in mourning, but we are creatures of habit.
So we talk of each one who died of drowning,
and I listen to her stories with the patience
of a chronicler.
– Funereal Stories
When someone accuses you of "too much feminism", what they are really saying is, "I am uncomfortable with you challenging the status quo and disrupting my privilege".
Time and again, there is one phrase that keeps coming up in the social media discourse on feminism. Any guesses?
Ah, no prizes for guessing the infamous “itni bhi feminist” or “too much feminism” phrase, a classic eye-roller for me, and I am sure for many more of my tribe, in the realm of gender equality discussions.
Pray tell me, how can an ideology, a movement be too ‘much’? It’s not salt or the seasoning of your soup where you can go, “Oops, too much salt, only one spoon was required”. Either you stand for what feminism stands for, or you don’t.
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