Beauty hurts

When I was a child, I was given children’s books, especially Barbie storybooks. Some of them were colouring books where I could colour the dresses of the princess and prince as I fancied while others were mostly storybooks, which showed how the prince and the princess met and eventually got married happily ever after.

Nepali children books were similar in nature, especially the ones that had stories of a prince and princess. My parents used to buy me Barbie dolls as I was obsessed with them. I would look at them and wonder when I would ever be like them - flawless and beautiful.

As I grew up, my teachers, friends and people around me became the role model regarding beauty. I was in grade seven, and one of the teachers used to wear pretty sandals, and when she walked they made a noise. I began walking heavily too so that my shoes or sandals would make a noise. I saw that she used to match her nail polish with the colour of her clothes, and so I decided to match the colour of my earrings and hairband with that of my clothes.

When I entered adolescence, I was obsessed with the idea of looking pretty. Now my role models were actresses. I used to look at them and just be in awe. After high school, I got my first phone, and I remember taking hundreds of selfies. Soon beauty cameras came into vogue, even cameras where there were makeup filters.

So even if you didn’t wear any makeup, the app would put makeup on you. I would look at my flawless pictures and feel happy that I looked pretty. Not only that, the idea of being slim and having a zero figure became popular. I used to see actresses with hourglass figures and would exercise day and night to look like them.

All this time, I never took a moment to think why I was doing what I was doing. Why did looking beautiful become so important to me? Why was I wasting my time trying to be someone I was not? Due to heavy exercise, I began getting stretch marks on my body. I wanted my skin to look flawless and hence avoided oily foods and spices and would even cut down on my rice portions. I pushed myself to the limit, and my body started becoming weak.

I then saw one of my favourite makeup artists without any makeup on social media. I was shocked by the freckles she had. I then began thinking how delusive this world is. I began thinking how becoming beautiful hurts, not only to me but to thousands of girls out there.