Not for toads. Nah-uh.
It is ironic that I blog about superficiality only to be dealt with an extreme dose of it the very next day. For most of my life, I grew up surrounded by people who didn’t think I had much to offer them on the account that I was overweight and dark-skinned. In Indian culture, being dark is the very bane of your existence. On the account that most of us are pretty brown, dark skin is seen as something negative and indians who are dark skinned are generally perceived as being uglier or less, well, appealing.
Sadly, a lot of Indians accept this, yes, even the dark-skinned ones. They accept that skin colour is something to be judged by and cater to this phenomenon. And it doesn’t matter where you find these indians, it could be in a society that doesn’t cater to such ridiculous thinking but you’d find these indians right there, holding on to such archaic values.
I grew up in Malaysia, where there were loads of Indians. Still are, about 1 million of us, all having gotten on a boat from the south and headed over to work in the estates, in the sun, with inheritant melanin and photosensitivity.
I grew up around people who constantly told me I was overweight and never the ideal of skinny. I never thought of myself as beautiful and always saw myself as the ‘smart one’. I studied instead, believing then that if I excelled in the books, I could get myself a successful career and the respect I deserved that would carry me through the ages. I studied to be a doctor so I could help people of all skins and colour.
I developed PCOS in my early twenties. I was basically told that my awful skin and weight condition was due to a disease I had that made me more susceptible to weight gain and the bane of imperfect skin. Hyperpigmentation etc, which attributed a lot to my skin colour. I was also told that it would be difficult for me to have children, should I want them. At 20, that wasn’t my concern.
As I started to date, I found it astonishing that people found me attractive. I dated men who loved my skin colour, who loved my curves, who told me I was the prettiest person on the planet and for those few times in my life, I believed them. I thought, hey, wow, maybe I’ve been around the wrong people all this while. Maybe, just maybe, I’m not actually that ugly.
Last weekend, I met my boyfriend’s parents. They’re just as brown as your average Indian gets. I walked away thinking that things had gone well. They seemed nice to me, asked me to stay for dinner and his mum appeared to like the flowers I had gotten her. Naturally, here’s me thinking, hey, our folks approve.
A week later, my boyfriend’s parents ring him up to tell him that under no circumstances should he be dating an ugly girl such as myself. The reasons being that I am : 1. overweight, 2. dark-skinned and 3. short in height (I’m 5 feet 4 inches tall)
This is what I look like now.
What a beast I am.
My boyfriend’s parents have threatened to cut him off his education should he continue to date this ugly beast. Because they think he can do much better – despite giving him hell about his looks too. As a result, we are now forced to keep our relationship under wraps so he won’t be denied his educational opportunities to become a doctor to help people.
Here’s the kicker: his folks are both doctors themselves. One’s a surgeon, another a radiologist.
It’s funny how we see prejudice in the most unlikely of people. For my boyfriend, he was shocked as he could not imagine what sort of people his parents were. Disappointment, shock, you name it. As you can imagine, it was an upsetting conversation for the both of us. I am thankful however that he defended me and did not agree with his folks and do as they suggested. Thankfully that while he shares their blood, it is clearly apparent that he does not share their mindsets. If so, we would not be dating.
At first, I was upset with the circumstances. Having all my life being told that I was an ugly creature, only to bare myself at a situation with such horrible people, go out of my way to be polite and pleasant by gracing them with my presence. For a moment, my self-esteem was shattered. It isn’t great when you’re constantly berated for the way you look. You can’t change that unless you get surgery. Instead of wanting their son to be happy, they rather he chose someone who played the trophy wife role.
My boyfriend rang me up, upset and angry. As you would imagine for someone bringing home a girl to his family for the first time. The interesting bit to this story was how they pretended to like me for a whole week before going full ammo on him for it.
The unfortunate thing was me telling my folks that they had accepted me and that things were good. It’s gonna be a bit difficult telling them otherwise now. Knowing my family, they’d want me to have nothing to do with him or his family now, at first. However, I’m sure, if they saw that he was not at all like them, they’d be alright with it. My family’s more concerned about my happiness than what society thinks, when it really comes down to it.
What have I decided to do about this?
Well I won’t deny that it cuts deep. But a long conversation with my best friend made me realise something: I have no reason to doubt myself. While I’m not gorgeous, I’m definitely not ugly.
See that smile? Nawwwwww….
I come from a good family, we’re pretty wealthy, I’m a medic and I’ve got everything in life going for me. I am well-liked by all my friends, pretty talented in quite a few things outside of medicine really and I’m amazing in the *coughs* kitchen. Meh, that’s enough of bridal resumes now. Time to make my point.
All my life, I’ve dealt with prejudice, bias and insults. I’ve had the closest people to me be cruel and harsh with their words. Psychologically, I’m crippled. I have issues that a shrink could feast on!
But the reality is, I could have turned out worse. And I didn’t. I’m in medschool, reaching my finals, my patients love me and I’ve done well for myself so far.
Yeah so shit happens. And hey, maybe my boyfriend will even cave under the pressure and eventually think, ‘she’s not really worth the fuss of going against my family’ and do a total 180 from being the awesome person he is right now. Shit happens. You deal with it. Bladiblabla.
As far as I’m concerned, this too shall pass.
- Tiga Suku