Every week, someone calls me ugly. I’d post a picture of myself walking in a rally, and the comments would come stinging at my skin. I’d top my economics exam and someone would shout it out from the back of the class. It’s as if they don’t need to know me, as if their opinions aren’t opinions, but the truth instead, forged in steel and unmoving like the Excalibur.
The first time it happened I cried. I expected someone to rebuke them. Instead, I was the one told not to pay attention. I wanted to shout, how do you expect me to walk elegantly with a knife digging into my guts, making me bleed, fading out into a complete absence of self esteem?
There is an algorithm now to determine how beautiful a woman is. There are computer applications for trend analysis to find what others deem attractive. Magazines. Lotions. There are surgeries. There isn’t anything to remind a person, they are works of art.
It’s insane how society hasn’t made up its mind about how it wants to destroy its women yet. They want fair skin and blonde hair and curved lips and gravity defying breasts.
So bleachbleachbleach, and don’t forget silicone is your best friend.
They want no hair on your body. So dip your body in wax, like sacrificial goat served on platter with honey.
Nose, eyes, teeth, spine.
Straight where they want.
Crooked where they don’t.
Break those ankles wearing high heels.
Hashtag bring back the corset.
Hashtag fuck that cellulite.
Over the last few years, I’ve tried.
Oh god, how I’ve tried.
With creams which are 78% moisturizer and 22% toner and a 100% disappointing. With lotions with extracts of vitamins and proteins and alkalis, everything except a hint of fragrant self-love. With shrinking potions made from whale fat and herbal teas plucked from mountains I’ve never been to, never will.
And I’ve promised myself, eyes gazing into the mirror, whispering “get into shape, get clearer skin, get smooth teeth, get curling locks of hair”.
I’ve been so obsessed with changing myself altogether. Constantly fidgeting. Trying out something new, whatever’s available in the market, anything to make me forget how painfully unattractive I am. Until the point where my body had turned into a warzone with traumas writ in bold. Until the point where I realised, this is my body.
This is my body, with its hair and complexion and fat percentage and waist size and blemishes and scars. This is my body, the armour I show up in every day to wage battles which will invariably shatter it, the playground where I learnt how pleasure comes from me as well. This is my body, but the opinions are someone else’s.
The sly comments behind my back, stifled laughs, they belong to someone else.
And between letting their opinions mould my being, or my confidence and self-love silencing theirs, there is no dispute.
There never was.
Only the agreement of my body.
And my soul, signed in stardust.