TW: Body-shaming, mental illness, body dysmorphia
I have a fear of mirrors.
Let me rephrase that –
I have a fear of my
reflection on the mirror.
I hate the face that
looks back when I look
into the mirror.
It does not look like me – it feels grotesque, absurd. The human eye is so acutely trained to fixate on impurities and imperfections. It has an
insatiable thirst for providing an infinite supply of ammunition for all your insecurities. The blemishes, the uneven tones, the acne – it disgusts me.
Don’t get me started on the full body mirrors. The fit of clothes on me makes me nauseous. I am either overweight, disproportionately sized, too short or too untoned. All I never am is me. It befuddles me why my brain would betray me and make me believe I look like something I am not and show me something I don’t want to be.
Its crude humour is lost on me. Why make me guzzle down food from stress eating if you cannot stand to see yourself overweight? Why grow out and gift me beautiful curls only to rip them away from me before I even hit adulthood? To be betrayed by one’s body is an indescribably painful infidelity. Actually, scratch that last line. The pain is benign compared to the betrayal from those you love most. The third sentence that escaped my mother’s mouth as I met her after a “year and a half” consisted of criticisms about my weight, my skin and the texture of my hair. An uncle made the very astute observation that I had developed a deeper tan. But the vernacular to express that is to quip that my complexion had got dirtier, which was somehow a euphemism to avoid more serious colourist remarks. It’s not his fault.
It’s the society that moulded him. The one that segments newborns into “beautiful” or “dark-skinned” because it believes that their mutual exclusivity is a matter of fact. The one which led a child to scrub his skin till he bled in order to wash away the “dirt”, which made his skin murky. The one which beat me down into not looking at a mirror for the last 2 years.
I felt guilty that the only bit of rebellion I put up against this society was so minuscule and private. I rebelled each time I had that extra plate of food because it brought joy to my foodie soul. I rebelled each time I went to the gym because I like the runner’s high and not because my mother said I look unpresentable in my current form. I rebelled each time I ignored any fairness products and wore bright colours, which they said would not suit my complexion. I rebelled when I looked into the mirror for the first time in 2 years. Someday, I will rebel by accepting the face and the body that looks back at me.