More Than Just Skin Deep

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Guest writer Nida shares with us her reflections on what our lives and efforts should truly be directed towards.

We all want to be remembered. We all want to make an impact on the people around us. It feels nice to get a compliment, and I would be lying if I insisted that I am any different. I enjoy being complimented as much as the next girl.

It is only human to crave attention and we are all only human after all. Yet, one thing we should really think about is, ‘how exactly do I want to be remembered?’ What kind of attention is it that I want? What facet of my ‘self’ do I want to be identified by? Ask anyone that question and they will probably give an answer which is a variation of: ‘I want to be remembered by my personality’, or ‘my work’ or other such epithets.

I’m not denying of course that we do want to be remembered for our great personalities or the work that we do. What I’m saying is that in three out of four cases, we often tend to settle for being remembered or complimented for something a lot more prosaic: our appearance. We may want to be known for our personalities, but inside all of us is that little voice that keeps telling us that physical appearance is way more important.

We live in a media-saturated culture that seems to reinforce this idea that to be ‘noticed’ or to ‘matter’ we must look first and foremost to our appearance. So much so that to not put an effort into your appearance is considered abnormal. I’m not saying of course that putting effort into your appearance or being well-groomed is a bad thing. Yet a problem with this is the idea that putting effort into your appearance is not enough; it has to be efforts towards conforming to a specific sort of appearance, to a specific ideal  and standard of beauty that is hardly realistic, let alone appropriate. We are bombarded with messages such as:

‘Who cares what you consider beauty. Looking like Katrina Kaif or Beyonce is what you should aspire for!’

‘What do you mean you’re not comfortable with sleeveless? Don’t be so mummy-daddy.’

‘You’re not comfortable wearing skinny jeans? Don’t worry so much, there’s nothing wrong in it, it’s just harmless fun! After all, you’re only young once.’

The main idea of course is that personality and character are all well and good, but physical beauty is what gets you noticed. The point isn’t that if you are pretty or attractive there is something inherently wrong with that, yet is it absolutely necessary to flaunt this gift to the world at large?

When I personally started covering my head, one of the first things people said to me was, ‘But you have such lovely hair! Why would you want to hide it?’ –more often than not saying it in a tone as if consoling someone who’s had a tragic accident. They could not seem to understand why I would choose to do such an ‘abnormal’ thing. Be ‘normal’ they said, ‘why do you want to stand out?’ I cannot blame them though, as the modern society that we live in is incapable of understanding why a ‘normal’, educated girl, would choose to do something so ‘abnormal’. They try to deter you from the path they see you on out of a misguided attempt to ‘save’ you or help
you in some way.

But my answer to all these comments and ‘concerned advice’ is: at the end of the day, when all is said and done and you are in your grave, do you really want that the only thing you have to show for your life is how stylishly you did your hair? Is that all that matters? Is there nothing else that is more important? I for one do not wish for that to be my defining feature.

Life is full of decisions and choices: to achieve one thing, you have by necessity to give up another. So you have to ask yourself this: when it gets right down to it and you have to make a choice, would you choose to concentrate only on looking good or would you rather prefer to strive to be good?

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