‘Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder’, a statement which we often use, but it seems like we have set a stubborn criterion in our mind for beauty. If we see someone that does not fit into this criterion, we consider them ugly. Nobody wants to consider themselves as an average person. But who decided the criteria for beauty? Who decided that six-packs are more attractive than a fat belly? Who decided that men who struggle to get thick beards are not manly enough or being a woman means no hair on the body? The answer to all these questions is blatant. Over the years, we have not been taught to be empathetic towards people. Through movies, it has been fed in our minds that a certain look is beautiful and if you do not look like that, then consider yourself average looking or ugly.
For me, a person is ugly if they cheat, lie, and do not respect other people and a person is beautiful, if they respect another person, do not lie and are empathetic towards everyone. Moreover, this is my opinion, the world does not think in this manner. No matter how many times people say looks do not matter, they will always prefer looks over personality.
Living with Hirsutism, I have faced this battle for several years. Hirsutism is a disease in which women tend to have thick male pattern hair on several parts of the body primarily on the face, back, thighs. Several reasons causing Hirsutism are androgen-secreting tumors, adrenal hyperplasia, thyroid dysfunction, and most commonly polycystic ovary syndrome. PCOS is a common hormonal issue in women these days, it is hectic and depressing, but it worsens if the symptoms involve excessive hair growth causing Hirsutism. It has been five to six years since I have been facing this disease. In the beginning, it did not bother me because I never noticed the hair on my face and thought it was just hereditary.
Eventually, the hair started growing thick and began to spread all over my face. While I was confident about it, I received some bizarre comments, some even from people I had never expected it from. Last year, I slowly started losing confidence in myself due to my facial hair and started remembering all the comments I ever got. One comment that I can never forget was, “You is in a commerce business; you need to look presentable and beautiful. When you go for the interview, they will see how you look!”. This line eradicated my confidence. I was shocked to hear this statement, it clearly hinted that I would get a job based on my looks and not my talent. Another comment that shocked me was from the Gynecologist I visited. Looking at my hair she said, “It’s too much. I have never had a patient with so much hair on their face. Start the treatment soon, or else you will have problems to get married.” All these comments made me depressed and left me wondering why it was so important and why I couldn’t be accepted just the way I am. All these comments made me realize that we lack empathy as a society.
We are not open to unconventional beauties. Although mild and medium Hirsutism can be treated, severe Hirsutism cannot be cured, leading to severe depression and anxiety. While reading one of the articles on Hirsutism, I was shocked. the article mentioned how a girl tried to put acid on herself since she was ashamed of her hair on thighs and instead of being hairy, she preferred being burned. That incident horrified me. Sadly, it has become a taboo and a serious problem in our society. I would like to highlight how people argue by saying hygiene and skin routine is important, yes, it is important. It keeps your skin healthy but having hair on your body is not unhygienic.
Men do not shave their legs and arms; it does not make them unhygienic, so why does it make a woman unhygienic. Its shocks me how people expect no marks on people — people are bullied for stretch marks, acnes, being skinny, being fat. Why can’t we start accepting flaws in people? Why can’t we start recognizing and appreciating unconventional beauties? The fact is, nobody is perfect, and there is no need to be perfect. People can only be satisfied with themselves when they start accepting their flaws with their strengths.
All of us need to start being more empathetic. Being empathetic is necessary, it can heal someone, and it can lead to a wonderful future where people are happy and are not ashamed of being who they are. We still have conversations where a group of people make fun of people based on looks because they have not been taught empathy. Empathy can only be felt when you have experienced something similar or taught in childhood. Hence, it becomes vital to unlearn whatever we have been taught over the years and start learning the true meaning of beauty. Change is important, and now is the time to change the perspective of beauty standards because it has influenced so many people that rarely anyone is open to accept someone different.
Beauty should not have a criterion; it should be diverse. If a girl with no hair on her body is considered beautiful and feminine, then a girl with hair on her body should also be considered beautiful and feminine. If a man with the beard is considered manly, then a man with a clean shave should also be considered manly and should not be teased. In both cases, beauty is defined by confidence and attitude. A man knows he is a man from his heart, and similarly, a woman knows she is a woman from her heart. We should stop taking looks seriously because it does not define us.
People should not lose weight because they want to look beautiful, they should do it to be healthy and avoid any severe future issues. A girl with Hirsutism should not consult a doctor because someone insulted her in front of everyone, she should consult a doctor because of hormonal imbalance that can lead to severe disease like diabetes. While it cannot be changed overnight, you, I and all of us, can at least start. All we need to do is to change our perspective. And it is important so that the next generation does not suffer from depression. None of them should feel like they are not beautiful enough, because at the end of the day, a person is beautiful based on character and personality and not looks, something that all of us have forgotten over the years. Maybe it’s time for us to unlearn and learn again, to look at a person beyond what we see and accept each other for who we truly are.