We live in a society that has unreasonable beauty standards when it comes to women. To be considered beautiful, one must be fair with flawless skin, a perfect size zero, sharp features, long luscious hair and the list goes on. This message is reiterated in our films, on television and on social media platforms, where we see highly processed images of size zero models, setting unrealistic expectations that has become the golden standard of beauty for women. I’ve faced a lot of body shaming all my life because I was that ‘fat’ kid in school and a ‘plus sized’ woman all my life. So, according to our society’s standards of beauty, I ‘failed’ miserably. This only got worst in my 20’s when I entered the matrimony market where women are heavily judged for their looks and the clothes they wear. I’m so used to hearing, ‘don’t wear tight clothes, you’ll look like a sack of potatoes’, ‘your skin is so bad that no one will find you desirable’, ‘lose weight, you’ll find a husband’, ‘straighten your hair, you’ll find a partner’ and so many more ridiculous comments like these.
To add more spice to my life, I was diagnosed with my first auto immune condition in 2016, a condition that affects my skin which results in red itchy flaky patches, inflammation, and pigmentation all over my body. So, for someone who has always been ‘fat’, throw in a skin condition along, and I became the perfect target for our society to pass judgements. Now on top of ‘’we’ll consider you if you lose weight” I started getting a lot of unsolicited advice on how to cover my red scaly patches. During my initial days post diagnosis, I was quite embarrassed by all my skin patches and tried to cover it as much as possible. So, in addition to dealing with the actual health condition, I was also dealing with society-imposed beauty standards which affected my self-esteem which in turn led to some poor decisions in my life.
For someone like me who has struggled with body image issues most of my life, one of the most transformative experiences was learning to accept my body with all its imperfections. I realized that I was letting our society’s views and judgments about me cloud my perception of ‘who I am’, and what truly makes me happy, preventing me from seeing my true worth. I started appreciating beauty is all shapes, sizes, and colors and stopped seeking validation from the society. Finally, I started figuring out what truly matters to me and what makes me happy. It’s been a beautiful process learning to accept and appreciate my body with all its flaws and celebrate the amazing things it does for me. No matter what a woman does the society is going to judge her, so might as well do the things we love, right?
I must admit that it was extremely challenging to ‘unlearn’ decades of conditioning, but it was one of the most liberating experiences and it make me feel wonderful. And at the end of the day, how you feel about yourself is the key. Comments like “no one will find you desirable if you look like this” stopped affecting me because I realized that my life’s purpose is not to make myself desirable for anyone. I refuse to hide my scars. If my scars make you uncomfortable, I’m sorry but that’s not my issue. Inflammation or not, flawed or not, size zero or not, fair or not - I’m PERFECT just the way I’m! I wear my scars proudly! That’s how I became my own hero!
Featured Saree: Surabi is draped in a gorgeous linen silk sea green color saree from our Organic Appeal Collection (link)
About the author:Dr. Surabi Veeraragavan is a neurogeneticist and a dancer from Houston, Texas. An ardent saree lover and a foodie who enjoys exploring food cultures. An auto immune warrior and an eternal optimist, she loves to make simple everyday moments extraordinary