Many years ago, I read a remarkable passage in a magazine. I no longer remember the exact words. But I remember that in that passage, a lady said that her mother had a very short height, yet she was a tall women. Being myself of a very short height, the words arrested my attention and are still clinging to me.
In this beauty-obsessed world, tall and thin are considered graceful while short and chubby are perceived to be awkward or even ugly. I’m not exactly fat, but I’m definitely shorter than the norms, being less than 5 feet tall. And because I am a patient of Thalassemia Major, the disease has left its marks on my face and skin colour too. Despite nearing 40, I still look like a pre-teen. A pre-teen in whose hair silver has started to appear and in whose face time has started stamping its marks.
I’m certainly not ‘good-looking’ by conventional standards. But I have no interest in disguising my looks by way of heavy beauty treatments and glamorous outfits. I’m comfortable in my skin and feel no need to pretend to be what I am not.
Because what I am, that is good enough.
I’m a dreamer, an achiever, an inspiration. I could not attend regular school after class seventh and had to drop out of school after class 8th because of too many sick leaves. Yet I continued studies on my own and earned two post graduate degrees and a diploma in creative writing through correspondence courses.
And today, this little women that looks like a kid has become author of two novels and a technology blogger! And when I walk into a five star hotel to attend the launch of a new smartphone, it no longer matters how big or small I look. It does not matter that I walk into a plush five star wearing a simple cotton tunic and leggings because I feel most comfortable in them. All that matters is that I am an established blogger and have a good writing ability.
And when my photo appears behind my novels’ covers or in author interviews, it does not matter that I look like a kid. What matters is that my writing is being celebrated. That my books are being loved. And that my readers love me.
Sure, there are times when staring eyes still make me feel uncomfortable. I’ve actually had a guy scowl at my face when he saw me. But most of the time, I manage pretty well to ignore such rude stares. Because I’ve realized that such rude stares are the result of their ignorance, not my lacks.
I realized long ago that I’d never have a normal life. So I vowed to try and have a life that would be more than normal. And thanks to God’s help, blessings of my elders and my own untiring efforts, I’m on the road to achieve that. My parents are proud of me. I’m proud of myself. And the world considers me an inspiration.
In fact, on this Republic Day, I was a part of the 100 empowered women achievers that were invited as a special guests to witness the celebration of India’s power.
Each one of those 100 empowered women is engaged in a battle against some barrier. Sitting amidst them, I could see it clearly how inconsequential looks and outfits were. A lady dressed in simple salwar kameez and with her hair tied in a long plait could be the first women train driver of India. A matronly lady could spend her life minding traffic at a dangerous road crossing. A dusky teenager dressed in a churidaar that probably would be called tacky by most urban ladies can be a warrior fighting against child marriages. And a lady without hands can do good to others by imparting education to the poor.
However, it is true that the world has skewed-up scales for judging worth of others.
As per the statistics, 69% of men confess that they judge a women based on her looks. 64% of women accept that they feel hindered from reaching their true potential by this sort of judgement that measures their ability based on their looks. Worse is that family and friends are no more fair in their judgement criteria. As per a survery, 70%of women have said that majority of unfair judgments on women are from family members or friends rather than strangers. This does not mean that women don’t face unfair judgement in work environments. In fact, 72% of women have said that working women face more judgments on their looks and clothes than housewives.
We can’t force other people to change their judging criteria. But we can control how we judge ourselves. That is more important. Because if we don’t value ourselves, nobody else will. And if we do have faith in ourselves and our abilities, we can, in time, make the world see what really matters.
That is what I’m trying to do. And today, this little girl who looks like a kid is a well-appreciated novelist and is being sought by big brands for the promotion of their products. And if somebody still looks at me and says, ‘You look so small!’ Then I can look back with pride and reply, ‘I’m not small. I’m compact. Advanced technology, you see.’
I may have a short height. But I have a tall stature now. #IAmCapable. And the world has started to agree.
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