Self image and self esteem, words closely linked yet seldom found walking in tandem.
The mirror presents to us an image, but do we see this reflection or do we see what our thoughts are leading us to see?
Now imagine this:
You walk into the room and see her lovely hair, wavy and luscious. With hair like yours curly and thick, you would give anything to have hair like hers.
The one with the wavy, long hair, wants to have hair cut short, close to her ears. She hasn’t ever had short hair, something her family would disapprove.
She looks up at the women who just entered the room and observes her skinny arms. How she wished her arms were as thin as hers, unlike her flabby arms that she always hides underneath long sleeved dresses.
The skinny armed lass would like to flaunt her skinny arms, but she is part of a culture that forbids her from bearing her arms.
She turns around to see the women who just walked in after her, her skin unblemished has a glow. Wondering in that instant, how delightful it must be to have skin so clear unlike her skin riddled with acne.
The clear skinned woman has always been the ‘darker’ one in her family. Not fair enough among the other light complexioned women around her.
The dusky skinned women looks at the curly haired woman, pondering on whether she should get her hair curled, all fizzy and bouncy during her next visit to the salon! It may look as lovely as they look on that women standing in the corner, she thinks.
On beauty: transient, coveted, yearned and misintepreted, my choice is a poem by the master of Urdu poetry, Allama Iqbal.
Khuda se husn ne ek roz yeh sawaal kiya
jahan mein kyu na mujhe tu ne laa-zawaal kiya
Mila jawaab ki tasveer khana hai duniya
Shab-e-daraaz adam ka fasaana hai duniya
Hue hai rang-e-Taghaiyyur se jab namood uss ki
Wahi haseen hai haqeekat zawaal jis ki
Kahin kareeb tha yeh guftagu qamar ne suni
Falak pe aam hue akhtar-e-seher ne suni
Seher ne taare se sun kar sunayi shabnam ko
Falak ki baat bataa di zameen ke mahram ko
Bhar aaye phool ke aanson payaam-e-shabnam se
Kalee ka nanha sa dil khoon ho gaya gham se
Chaman se rota hua mausam-e-bahaar gaya
Shabaab sair ko aaya tha sogvaar gaya.
By Khushwant Singh
To the creator did beauty one day complain
Why did you make me of that which wanes
The world is like a hall of mirrors answered He
A tale told to pass the long night of eternity
With the clay and hues of change was it made
And it is the essence of beauty that it must decay
The moon overheard for she was not far
The news spread spread in the skies to the morning star
The star said it to the dawn, dawn to the dew extended
The secret of the heavens thus to the earth descended
The flower was heavy with tears at what the dew had said
The buds little heart burst with grief and bled
Spring fled the garden in loud lament
Youth that had come to sport in sorrow went.
The magic of Iqbal’s world can never be captured in any translation, just like the essence of beauty. The ‘Allamah’ title bestowed on him denotes the greatness of this poet, philosopher and magician of words.
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