By: Nuha Atef
“Beauty shouldn’t be defined by whether you wear the deepest deep foundation or the translucent one. It’s all about confidence in your own skin and in your beauty. It’s corny, but it’s true.” –Jayne Mandat
Growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, I cannot deny the attachment many of us had with our first ideal toy: the “Barbie Doll.” Though she was a silent kind, her disposition was more than enough to dictate the idea of beauty and perfection. For me, it was her and many other female characters that I watched in cartoons and movies that moulded that ideal even further.
As I grew, the paradigm altered a bit, but, on the flip side, it brought me farther from relating to these perfect figures who seemed to have it all. This regularly exposed me to the mainstream concept of love, attention, and happiness based only on how these characters looked.
As an impressionable young girl, this gave rise to new insecurities. I began comparing my wheatish Asian complexion to these Western figurines that were fair, beautiful, and basically perfect. Obviously, we had nothing in common. So, attaining that perfection and being in that happy place all seemed like an unattainable dream, back then.
The equation of “a means to an end” you see in terms of happiness and contentment these days has been distorted, and physical beauty has become the root means to achieve fulfillment. Thanks to social media platforms, attaining beauty has become even more unachievable.
The constant bombardment of images of certain complexions, facial features such as artificially plumped lips, and perfect bodies have given rise to new anxieties making it even harder for people to accept and love themselves.
But as Muslims, we are to embrace our bodies as that is a gift from the divine. How can it not be perfect when the one who created us has made the entire universe?
Allah says in the Quran:
“If you are grateful, I would certainly give you more, and if you are ungrateful, My chastisement is truly severe.” (Surah Ibrahim: 14:7)
God has created diversity to be appreciated, admired, and recognised, not to be despised as brought to our attention in Surah Hujrat of the Holy Quran, which states:
“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other).” (Verse 13 chapter 49)
Every disposition comes with its unique set of attractions and appeal. And beauty indeed does lie in the eyes of the beholder. It’s not until we start looking at ourselves as unique artistry, we will be bestowed with more. Pretty much, most of my adolescence and adulthood was spent trying to figure out my place in society based on the way I looked.
Because the truth is told, the majority of the people I came across were shallow and judgemental. It wasn’t easy to live and breathe in a pool of toxic ideas, which were pretty common. It caused me great unrest deep down, so I turned to religion and knowledge to seek my answers.
I knew in my heart that God never intended for it to be this way. You see, God never judges us by our appearance or wealth, but rather He sees what’s in our hearts. Our focus in life should be to perfect our faith driving us to improve our character, as we will be judged by our deeds and how we treat others.
And so, my ideals of beauty drastically changed, and so did the whole way of seeing myself as I plunged deeper into faith. I could finally look in the mirror without finding faults admiring the crust and turfs, thinking this is God’s art in living motion. Self-admiration also inspired me to take better care of myself.
I learned to pamper myself and experienced the change from within. The more I cared for myself, the better I felt. There was a shift from within. I began to love myself more because there was more to me than my complexion and my body. For it’s not the colour, which is flawed being dark, tan, or white, but it’s the eye that is blinded by false standards.
Also, In the quest of garnering self-love, and as Kara Spain mentions in her blog for “Life Hack,” one should stop finding love and acceptance outside and instead cultivate it inside. It will, as she points out, not only release one from the shackles of approval but also put an end to the infatuation of improving one’s body image.
It will not only release one from the shackles of approval but also put an end to the infatuation of improving one’s body image. An independent and unruffled spirit will automatically become an object of charm and appeal, according to her. And as you set yourself free from dictated standards, you become truly ready to experience life to the fullest being none other than yourself.