“I Want to Feel Beautiful.”

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I want to feel beautiful.

It’s alright if don’t feel glossy, cover girl, it girl magazine beautiful. But I want to feel like ‘I belong’, ‘I matter’ beautiful. I want to feel beautiful like the energy on 24th December Pre-Christmas Dinner. I want to feel an expectant, alive kind of beautiful. A beauty, that does not rotate around Whatsapp Profile Pictures and ends at blank Snapchat filters. I may not be curves- highlighting- black-dress material beautiful sometimes. Because, sometimes, I realize that I’m not that strappy high heels wearing, ‘some boy’ will come buy me a martini kind of a girl. And that’s okay for me.

I want to feel beautiful because I want to tell myself that I’m enough to walk over to the bar and ask for a glass of water because I consensually do not drink. I want to feel that ‘liberated’ beautiful. I want to feel that quiet, calm, peaceful beautiful because I want to not ever feel guilty when I say “no”. I want to be beautiful so that I can break barriers between the ‘right kind of weight’ and the ‘wrong kind of weight’ and walk into M.O.D. and order the largest donut of death by chocolate. I want to feel beautiful because I want to hug my fears at 3:50 am on a Sunday night and tell myself that it’s okay. I want to be beautiful so that I can embrace my different. I want to feel this beautiful and I want it so bad because I want to understand the extents and limits of my vulnerability.

To me, beautiful is not just a word. It is not materialism overflowing from chap sticks and extra-red, T.G.I.F lipstick stains. To me, beautiful is that sweat I have on my back from walking with my mom to the library just so that I can smell the rawness of old, dusty books. To me beautiful is to be able to thank the cleaning lady at the Saturday night club night – the same woman who cleans up vomit of those who can’t handle their alcohol. I want to be beautiful, so that I can look down in humility as she takes my hand and tries to speak over her overwhelming silent tears. I want to be beautiful, because I want to have the courage to accept that what’s right for me is never going to be on the easy path.

I want to be beautiful, so that I don’t have to write “I want to be beautiful” in posts like these just because I want people to know that there are girls out there who are being body-shamed and bullied for . . . for what? For their metabolism? For the bread they break with God’s name? For the extra chunk of human they have on their bellies and hips and can’t get rid of it because they’re so busy trying to filter the negative voices in their head with the positive?

I’m sorry.

Until that vulnerability and the feeling of ‘I’m not good enough’ doesn’t erase from the minds of the women I love and respect, I’ll have to keep typing “I’m want to feel beautiful” to let them know that they’re not alone.

I’m also going to have to keep typing, “I want to feel beautiful” until the boys and the lads and the men realize that they can be beautiful too. I won’t stop, until they realize that their sanctity and their “heroicness” won’t be violated if they let their guard down and let their‘macho’ feel beautiful for once. I won’t stop until they realize that there is no separate race for the beautiful people and that all bones rot in soil after death. I’ll also have to keep typing “I want to be beautiful” to let the rape victims and acid attack victims know that ‘to feel beautiful’ is a state of mind and a way of life. And no matter how much we try, until our hearts don’t accept it, our eyes won’t believe it and our faces won’t reflect it. I want to feel beautiful so that I can develop a mental stability and maturity and learn how not to judge any burlesque, cabaret, punk, rock, rap, it girl, teen pop sensation, Bollywood desi or Moulin rouge dancer. For I know that our dignity comes from the purity our heart’s harbor. I have engraved this on my morals – that I need to not only clean my nails, but also my mind.

I want to feel beautiful because I want to be accepting at all times – especially in times when I won’t feel so beautiful. For I know how dusty, allergic, nauseous, crampy, jealous, afraid, tired, over thinking, hateful and anxious I can get. In these moments, I’ll need to keep my drive to feel beautiful, alive.

Do help me, oh human.

Because human, I will want to feel beautiful as long as I live. And as long as I’m alive, I’ll question. Because the questions I ask make me understand the fickleness of the beauty ‘they’ want. I want to feel beautiful so that I never forget the kind of beautiful I want to be and the kind of beautiful I’ve been brought up with. I want to be beautiful so that I have patience to deal with the answers I get. And, I want this beautiful so bad, because I want to fill all the hurtful spaces of my life with forgiveness. A calm kind of forgiveness that makes me want to respect myself again. And, so that I finally understand the difference between a scared silence and a sacred silence. I want to be beautiful because I want to know when to take ‘things’ with a pinch of salt and when to fight back and clear the dirt of my conscience.

I do not want to be beautiful to be saint; I want to be beautiful to learn how to be human.

-khushboo shah

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