Monday, May 23, 2011

What Does Real Beauty Mean? A Reflection.

What does real beauty mean to me?
I am glad I came across this question. It really made me think over few precious beautiful things I have in my life and be grateful to God for having given me a chance to experience beauty in different ways.
I have seen the ugliness and beauty of life with different eyes. Those of a girl who had club foot and thought everything perfect was beauty, a young woman who went through breast cancer at the age of 29 and believed she had lost her beauty fighting for her life, and a mother who tried to find a perfect word to describe her daughter who was born with special needs. All these experiences have taught me the lesson to look at life positively and watch out for the beauty which floats by in different forms.
Acceptance is the main part of being beautiful. When you accept the crow as a bird which is created to be black you can see the shine in its feathers and actually see they are pretty. It is when we try to look for a pigeon or peacock in a crow then it turns into an ugly black creature. As a child it was tough for me to accept the fact that I was different from other children, not in a better way but with a crooked foot and a prominent limp. I felt beauty was not having a club foot. It was having perfect symmetry in the body parts. As life went on I learned to accept my club foot and grew more and more comfortable dealing with it. I slowly ceased to be an ugly handicapped girl and my club foot was no more an ugly extension of my body.
When a woman goes through breast cancer and fights it, the result is usually devastating. 15 years ago, fighting cancer I felt the loss of my feminine beauty. It left me emotionally and physically scarred with the loss of one breast and effects of chemotherapy which had left me with spotted skin, weight gain and a bald head. As a child learning to speak, I always called women as people with long hair. It hurt to lose something which initially I associated with femininity.
More pain was about losing a breast while feeding my baby girl who was just eleven months old. It is not new to attach importance to cleavage and show it off. I may not have shown my cleavage off but I loved the breast as a part of my feminine personality. It was a part of my body with which I was pleased and comfortable. Surviving cancer I started feeling so incomplete, as though some parts of the puzzle were missing. Even my experience of dealing with club foot did not stop me from going into depression. Time is a great healer. With help from few good Samaritans time healed my pain. Cancer worked as a mirror showing me my true potential and my real beauty. Beauty is not being perfect but looking at imperfections perfectly in a right way and accommodating them to our lives. There is so much more in me which gives me the feminine touch. It is the compassion, emotionality, love, motherhood, care, and other inner qualities which are engraved inside of me that make me the woman I am, not just the two breasts.
Today surviving breast cancer for 15 years I can see beauty in my grey hairs, in the wrinkles which are forming slowly, which tell me that I am lucky to have them… My sister who succumbed to breast cancer at the age of 32 years saw just one or two grey hairs and did not have any wrinkles.
Being fat doesn’t matter as life has its own value. Beauty of life has been watching my kids grow up into wonderful human beings. Being alive matters!
I don’t say I go out of way to look ugly. After cancer I actually started caring a bit for my physical beauty too. I wear a prosthesis, put on a dash of makeup, carefully shampoo my hair with good mild shampoo, try to lose weight etc. They are my efforts to look pretty rather than trying to beautify myself.
Finally I arrive to the biggest challenge of my life. My daughter was born with special needs. It was tough to accept. The obsession with beauty set in again as she was growing up. What is she going to be as a woman? Will she be able to walk, talk and look beautiful? It was very tough to accept that my baby girl will never be able to walk, talk, run and live like everyone. I started to question, “What is the aim of her survival?” Slowly I have found answers for my questions. She has brought a change in me, which makes me a more beautiful and loving person. She has made me reach out to people and look deep into every individual. She gave me courage, strength and fighting spirit. She is one of the reasons why I fought cancer desperately to win my life back. She gave me motivation for living.
The beauty of her life is in her innocence. I see her getting up in the morning not worrying about anything. She makes me realize that most of my worries are created by me. They are my creations because I think of tomorrow, day after it, even years after it at times. She can be happy because it is raining, it is warm, it is cold and just because it is some weather out there. I have watched her struggle to draw a square and the elation on succeeding at drawing it imperfectly. That makes me wonder why some people worry about that one % less which would have made all the difference.
Different Forms of BeautyAccording to me there is something called beauty which is skin deep. There is no discarding that beauty. We see the pictures of beautiful women like Marilyn Monroe, Madhubala, or somebody with good features and exclaim, “Wow! What a beauty?” We respond in a different way to real people. Though at first the appearance may strike us, it takes more than just physical features to win appreciation. Again the physical beauty can vary from place to place and culture to culture. Beauty is in the eye of beholder. So if we are not talking about photographs, then beauty which is skin deep does not matter much. True beauty would beam out from the light in the eyes, a natural smile on the lips, good health, glowing skin and attitude with which a person carries him/herself regardless of age, body proportions, colour or race.
Love is a part of beauty. When you are in love with someone you find that person very beautiful (Like Mrs Cockroach finding Mr Cockroach extremely beautiful) or you can say that you fall in love with someone who is beautiful. Does everyone who has been passionately loved live up to the standards of beauty advertised by our models and stars? No way. Are the lovers living in an illusion? Does love make people beautiful? It is a mystery not to be solved by me but we can sure say there is more to beauty than that meets the eye.
Mothers find all their children beautiful. This is special beauty which is opposite of the sexual love at first sight beauty. We find all babies very beautiful which is the opposite of the sensual beauty of youth.

I would also like to add to my blog views of some special people in my life.
Duffy –To me, it's someone who is kind, who has a great sense of humour, who gives more than they take, and who makes me feel good, just by being around them. That's real beauty in a person. True beauty is simply an inner thing. It's how much you care about others and whether you can put their happiness and well-being before your own. True beauty is in the way we live our lives. I feel Mother Theresa is a perfect example of true beauty. . (I also guarantee I could never attain that level of beauty, not by a long-shot.)
Christina Tretter - Real beauty means smiling at a stranger, or showing kindness even when it is the toughest thing to do. It is looking beyond the physical and recognizing the beauty of another soul, no matter what their physique may be. It is patience and love. It is appreciation for the beauty that surrounds us. It is not just losing 10 pounds - it is losing a memory that might hold anger. It is not just gaining attractiveness, rather bringing out the best of everyone around you. Beauty is shown through example. It is ignoring the tabloids and gossip. It is perpetuating the positive. When you look in the mirror, beauty is not what you see in that mirror, rather how you see yourself relating to others.
Sandy Stephens - I think real beauty comes from the inside of a person and not necessarily how they look on the outside. What's inside a person's heart and how they treat their family, friends and their fellowman is the true test of character and beauty. Beauty radiates from within. If you are happy with yourself and with the world and your heart smiles then you glow all over!!!!
Linda Gambino - Beauty is whatever YOU decide it is. It’s a personal thing.
Kathi Kolb - As an artist, I know that visually, humans are very much attracted to symmetry. But especially since becoming an 'accidental amazon,' I think asymmetry & imperfection are often what makes something or someone beautiful to behold.
Deb Rizor White - When I am surrounded with beauty I know it. It is a feeling, a warming of the heart. It can happen visually, like a perfect sunset, or a smile received.
It can happen through music, or laughter, or tears.
It can happen in a thought, a memory....
But most of all, to me beauty is in the living of everyday life when something connects you, moves you, and makes you glad to be alive. When it happens, you know it- and it's beautiful.
love is beauty- hope is beauty- peace is beauty... and all that is opposite of those is ugliness...
and now my 11 yrs. old niece Sarah says "Beauty is just the way you are. Why? Because everyone is beautiful in their own way".
Kathleen Bouthillier - Beauty is the sounding of your soul when it recognizes divinity, & senses its inherent connection to it.
This post has been written for the Yahoo Dove Real Beauty Contest on Indiblogger. It is a salute to the triumphant spirit of the Indian woman by Dove. To know more about Real Beauty you can visit the wonderful page hosted by Yahoo . If you like my post you can vote for me on indiblogger by clicking the link HERE

Dove Real Beauty on Yahoo! India


  1. a beautiful post! brilliant and insightful!

    does your son have a photoblog?
    shall surely drop by next time am passing byndoor!! will be a pleasure to meet up!

  2. Enchanting and a beautiful post! And thanks for putting up Marilyn Monroe there! ;)

  3. "Beauty is not being perfect but looking at imperfections perfectly in a right way and accommodating them to our lives."

    That pretty much sums it all up right there. Beautiful post.

  4. Thanks farida!

    Great, touching expression of beauty! thumbs up! :)


  5. Very nicely written. And your courage is inspiring!!

  6. Very aptly described the beauty of those who are close to the heart.Beauty lies in the heart because a thing of beauty is joy for ever.

  7. Beautiful post of a beautiful woman..:)

  8. Interesting post with lot of different perspectives:)

  9. beautiful post.. it is slightly different from others and awesome pictures here.. here is a heart expressing what does true beauty means

    Someone is Special

  10. Very Inspiring post indeed, thanks for putting it up here :)
    Take care...
    Blessed be :)

  11. lovely post ....
    its just so inspiring
    accepting life is how we discover real beauty.Thanks

  12. i loved ur post!
    not only is it very touchin, it also makes me feel like dere r so many things i take fr granted.
    also i think ur a really strong person n not many people may hav bounced baq d way u did. jus read d post b4 dis abt u fracturin ur foot. i hope its doin ok now :)

    also, Inshallah wud really wid all my heart wish dat ur entire family is blessed n u stay beautiful wid d same chubby cute smile i c in ur dp n anythin dat cums ur way hereon is onlyy happinesss!
    *hugs*....keep smiling :)

  13. This is so heartfelt...a story of someone who fought pain, physical and emotional to reach the contented state she is in now. Kudos to you and to other survivors.

  14. you are strong woman ..god bless you and your family :)

    all the best !!!

  15. Hello,

    That was a very nice post. I could totally feel my own emotions in your writing.

    I am a patient of Thalassemia Major. When I was born, my mother says, I was the prettiest of her three girls. But very early in my childhood, my face became marked with my disease. And now, at 35 years of age, I look like ten. I never became a woman. And that sometimes hurts more than the pills and needles that are my life. So I could totally understand your feelings.

    But there's beauty in my heart. And I'm holding on to it.

  16. Very touching and heart warming post! I could feel the many emotions while reading it...Hats off to you, you are an inspiration to many a women out there, Good Luck :)

  17. Thank you everyone for your amazing encouragement and empathy. I am really blessed with good people around me most of the time. I have been out of station for my son's admission. Not on internet much and therefore could not get in touch with you. I am sorry I could not respond to posts individually. But know that every comment is very much appreciated by me.

  18. Dear Ma'am,
    This is one of the most inspiring stories i have ever read... I had tears in my eyes after every other line... your writing made me realize the true essence of being alive, of living for happiness even if the pain is too much to bare... you are a really strong woman... like a phoenix you have risen from the ashes and made not just your own life beautiful, but also that of others... Your children are blessed to have a beautiful mother like you...:) May you keep writing n illuminating the lives of others...Whether you win the contest or not, you are a winner for me :)
    Anukriti Sharma

  19. words...I'd just write up one line. Beautiful post:-)

  20. Your writing is smeared with ink of grit and emotions of courage. I guess that your tenacity to challege the odds at all costs is real beauty.It is you as a person is real beauty.

    All the luck for the contest ma'am.

  21. Lovely post!Beautifully written and expressed..
    Your life and insights are truly awe inspiring :)
    Best wishes for the contest.

  22. Take a bow Mem...grt wrk..!!!!!!!!

    Do let me no ur tghts on my tk on beauty @

  23. am falling short of words to express how touchy and beautiful your post is.....i am reading this again for the fifth time and it still feels so fresh to read.....and a big salute to you, lady! you are truly an inspiration to every woman.....God bless...!!

  24. There is beauty in toughness and strength. You personify the saying 'Tough times don't last, tough people do'. Amazing stories.

  25. I salute your courage, your spirit and your optimism. :)

  26. Dear Farila
    I am deeply touched by your blog and I can fully empathize with you as my mom also underwent masectomy, the radiation and chemotherapy sessions are all vivid in my memory- she is also a brave and gritty woman like you and has survived the ordeal !
    I feel it takes more courage to bare your heart - hats off to you for that!
    Hoping and praying that your child gives you happiness in all possible ways- God bless!

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