by Richa P
Recently I chopped off my long hair for a shorter style. It wasn’t the first time I have had short hair, I have had it short most of my life. I wish I was brave enough to go shorter but there is fear that I won’t look beautiful anymore. I think it a fear many of us have when we want to do something outside of the box when it comes to our appearance. This notion of hair and beauty made me think of the very narrow definition we have in Nepalese culture. The definition of beautiful in our culture is for a woman to be of average height, fair, not too chubby nor too skinny, having some curves, big eyes, and having beautiful long hair. But Nepal is a country that has many ethnic groups who look very different from one another so there is no way that should be what beautiful means. We are all beautiful no matter what we look like. Our movies, music, and magazines need to represent all kinds of girls, not just one kind.
When I was in Nepal in 2011-2012, I noticed that the majority of young women had long hair, it was very rare to see girls rock a shorter style. All the ads featured women with flowy long hair and beautiful skin and big open eyes. It wasn’t any different from the women who are in Nepali cinema or Bollywood. We are bombarded with images of beautiful women but most of them look very similar.
We need to move away from the notion that there is only one kind of beautiful and beauty is everything. Girls comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes and many different colors. I wish to never see fairness cream again, we shouldn’t promote this unhealthy value. It’s very toxic. I have a few women in my life who won’t spend time outside in the sun because they fear getting darker. Many of our features are things we are born with and we can’t be faulted for the way we look. I don’t need to hear that I am small, I know I am short and there is nothing I can do about it.
Of course we have the choice to lead a healthy and happy life but our looks shouldn’t dictate who we want to be. We are more than how we look, we have our knowledge, our goals, our dreams, and our personality. We have the right to be different and look like ourselves instead of what we see in the movies and magazines.
We also have a very open culture where people feel they have the right to make comments about our looks. Parents, friends, relatives, and strangers will comment on our looks even when we don’t want to hear it. They will blurt out that you are getting fat, or you have spots on your face, or that you are getting dark. We have a culture where these negative comments become part of society and how we interact with each other. I know I have done it too. I assume many people don’t think about how it affects the young girl when she hears that is she is fat or not pretty enough and looks mean more than anything else. It’s hard not ignore these comments and they become part of how we act, what we wear, how much time we spend outside, and how much we eat. Of course, these comments also go the other way when you constantly hear how beautiful you are but nothing else about yourself. Then there is pressure to always maintain your beauty, you don’t get a day off. When I was younger, people always told me that I was chubby or short. Hearing that I was fat was very hard for me and there were many days where I limited my eating and how I viewed myself.
I like to look nice and presentable, I like to dress up and wear makeup but I am at a point in my life where I feel comfortable in my own skin. I don’t need to wear makeup every day or have eyeliner on. I like my inner beauty to shine through. I try really hard to take care of myself, I eat healthy and exercise and take time to breath. I try not to be too hard on myself when I get a pimple or when my hair doesn’t cooperate with me or when I am bloated and nothing fits.
So all you Nepali women out there, I hope you will look in the mirror and realize how beautiful you are. Don’t let society or your relatives tell you that you aren’t pretty enough, you are! Embrace your inner beauty and accept your physical self. We are on this Earth only for a short time and we shouldn’t waste all our energy trying to look perfect. It’s okay to gain a few pounds, it’s okay to cut your hair short, and it’s definitely okay to embrace your skin color. Our looks will eventually fade as we age but our inner beauty will always remain.
So to end this entry, I hope we can all come together and stop judging ourselves and others over looks. Let’s celebrate each other just the way they are and accept that beauty doesn’t mean one thing but it means a lot of different things.
P.S. Don’t get me wrong, if you are rocking long hair, keep rocking it! If you love wearing makeup, wear makeup but love yourself without makeup too. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look and feel beautiful but don’t let that be the only thing that defines who you are.