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Jun 13 2013

Tiga Suku – Fairytales are for Princesses

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.

Image

Image

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.

Image

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.

*deep breaths*

As far as I’m concerned, this too shall pass.

- Tiga Suku

11 comments

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  1. 1
    CaitieCat, getaway driver

    Awesome response, ma’am. You’re even more impressive with your words attached. Bravissima to you, and best of luck to both of you, you surely deserve it.

  2. 2
    minxatlarge

    Though I come from a privileged background, my parents frequently discouraged a sense of entitlement by reminding us “Manners are a virtue of kings and a requirement of the common man.” I somehow doubt that your boyfriend’s parents are royalty. They sound small minded, shallow and vulgar. I am disappointed that they chose to find fault with your (smoking hot) appearance and also neglected to notice the nobility of your mind. You deserve to be surrounded by elders who scheme to match you with their clever sons, the better to have grandchildren with big brains and faces shining with love.

    I’m also sad for your boyfriend, for having parents who care less about his happiness and more about impressing their social circle with tales of a movie-star girlfriend. There’s no faster way to tell a son that he shows bad taste and slow wit than to criticize the appearance of his girlfriend. When you love your children, you celebrate their happiness. Loving parents would never threaten the education of a child.

    Sending you both best wishes for happy and prosperous futures!

    Tree, on the West Coast of the US, where we have a physician shortage

    Did I mention? Smoking. Hot. We old women know how to judge real beauty, trust me on this.

  3. 3
    CaitieCat, getaway driver

    YES! What she said, about old women. I’m nearly 50, and I agree completely, so it must be true. Because I’m an old woman, too, see, so if I say she’s right about old women being right, I’m necessarily right.

    *nods*

    See? I can do religious thinking when I need to! Begging the tautological question, that is…:D

  4. 4
    Adrienne Knight

    Respect lovely, curvy lady! Xxx

  5. 5
    Pen

    Wow! It’s really heartbreaking when the person you need to turn to for support or to express your feelings is so deeply involved in the situation. I mean both you and your boyfriend. You seem to be handling it really well.

  6. 6
    TaylorMaid

    I feel sad that you need to defend your attractiveness. It is enough that you enjoy each other for who you are. I know how hard it is to navigate the fat shaming so common to today’s societies. We internalize those standards and beat ourselves up constantly. I dream of a world where a person’s value is not linked to their physical beauty. This family has bought into that system at great cost to their son and the one he loves. It is their loss. My best to you and Avi.

  7. 7
    Tsu Dho Nimh

    Good grief … at 5’4″ you are probably above average height for India.

    You are not thin … you have the classic hourglass figure I saw on many Indian coworkers. The kind that decorates temples and births babies, not totters feebly down catwalks looking wan and bored with a skirt hanging from her protruding hipbones.

    Dark? Who cares? In the closeup I see big brown eyes and a smile that makes me wonder what mischief you have been up to. You are verging on cute in that picture.

    ============
    I wonder if any woman he brought home would be ‘good enough’ … sometimes parents have wildly unrealistic images of the perfect spouse for their child and no one can measure up.

  8. 8
    sheila

    Hugs. Of course you don’t deserve this. I hope Avi’s parents get some sense – looks aren’t important in a marriage. As they say in some places, “Kissing don’t last. Cookery do.” More to the point, supporting each other is waaaaaaaaaay more important.

  9. 9
    Jackie

    That’s too bad. I’m sorry those people can’t be happy for the two of you. I’m sorry they are interfering with your lives like this.

  10. 10
    Stacy

    And what if you were “ugly”? Would that mean you and Avi would deserve to be treated so badly?

    No.

    But the fact is you find one another beautiful. His parents are very wrong to try and come between you.

    I hope they come to their senses. Best of luck to you both.

  11. 11
    Andrea Mandal (@triliana)

    You are absolutely gorgeous. If this is “overweight, dark, and short,” then that’s what I want to be. I am so sorry to hear about this.

    I was the ‘disapproved-of-girlfriend’ myself. It worked out in the end. Stay strong :)

  1. 12
    Tales of a Tiga Suku – BCOS? PCOS! » A Million Gods

    [...] I would really like to feel good about myself once again. Recent events have been [...]

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