I was kind of having a self-hate day. It was one of those days where I could only notice the bumps and bruises on my skin, the seeming lumpiness of my thighs, the way my head and shoulders appear to connect without any kind of neck between them, the roundness of my cheeks, the planetary-size of my forehead, the shortness of my toes, the unevenness of my eyebrows, the number on the scale, the tiredness in my eyes. I was making a list like this one and I began brainstorming a list of physically transformative tasks I could complete to become less hideous. Lose weight, moisturize, take vitamins, go on a juice fast, run two miles a day, color my hair, re-think my wardrobe, dress for my body-type, work on confidence, take yoga, cut out carbohydrates and processed food, become a vegetarian, destroy all mirrors in the universe.
And then, this article popped up on my homepage and, suddenly, I felt this deep sense of security and peace. This is what Balpreet Kaur wrote about the importance of beauty and purpose in life after being targeted and attacked for her personal appearance: “Yes, I'm a baptized Sikh woman with facial hair. Yes, I realize that my gender is often confused and I look different than most women….My attitude and thoughts and actions have more value in them than my body… by not focusing on the physical beauty, I have time to cultivate those inner virtues and hopefully, focus my life on creating change and progress for this world in any way I can."
I need to be friends with this woman. This is the kind of honest challenge I needed. Sometimes I look in the mirror or I compare myself with others and my values get jumbled. I am once again reminded that so much of our culture defines beauty by an external (and, in most cases, unrealistic) standard.
I titled this post provocatively in hopes that people might read it but the fact is, Balpreet’s life is not about being beautiful IN SPITE of her facial hair. I honestly believe that Balpreet redefines what it means to be beautiful, to be feminine, to be powerful and important and genuine. I am interested in that kind of beauty. I encourage you to make your own list of what makes you beautiful. Just imagine what might happen if we started defining ‘beautiful’ not as what we want to be, but by what we already are.*
*I am not the first person to say that, by the way, so if anyone remembers who said that best, let me know.