“If only your nose was straight and sharp like your father’s…and if only your skin tone was a bit lighter..” These were the words spoken by my grandmother over and over again for much of the first 27 years of my life. A retired surgeon, a very accomplished one at that, she raised me up entirely on her own. She sacrificed everything to give me the best I could have in life and she did that exceedingly well. She is no more, unfortunately, and not a day goes by when I don’t miss her.

My Grandmother was a very elegant and classy lady, with beautifully sharp features and fair skin. She always knew she was a beauty! Truth. She was surrounded by the British during her childhood and hence was influenced heavily by their culture and ideology. She grew up with the notion that being fair with sharp features was the quintessence of beauty and she identified herself with that common opinion.

My gramma was my everything on earth. My only “go to” person.  She introduced me to God, to fine dining, manners, character, inner strength and what not. To me, she stood tall, being the perfect role model as I grew up and needless to say, every sentence and every opinion that came from her, began to mould my thoughts and influence me.

I grew up believing in that very same opinion of hers that one needed to be fair with sharp straight features to be categorized as “Beautiful”!  I thus developed a complex that i wasn’t any of that. I detested my tiny little nose. I detested my lovely ebony skin tone.

When in school and college, I have heard teachers and seniors compliment me saying, “You are a black beauty!” . I chose to not believe them.

Unfortunately for me, my grandmother was the only critic who told me the “truth” and everyone else lied to please me!

I also happened to not be a cosmetic- loving gal. My skin was very clear naturally and i felt that was the only good thing left in me and that i should protect it and hence never applied makeup on my face. I’m glad and eternally grateful that i never went after Fair and Lovely, the then most popular brand or any fairness creams for that matter.

In 2013, I had an opportunity to visit Brasil. It was one of the best times of my life.

During my stay there I had countless number of people , including absolute strangers, the young, the old, men and women, walk up to me saying, “Você é muito linda. Sua cor é bonita!!” (You are very beautiful. Your colour is beautiful). I am not exaggerating when i say “countless”. It was overwhelming to have strangers in a restaurant or at the metro station walking up just to say they thought i was beautiful! Initially it was my bestie who had to translate every time somebody approached me with this compliment. Poor thing, she must have gotten tired translating for me during the initial days when i was not familiar with their language. After a few weeks though, this sentence became very familiar to me and i learnt to say “Obrigada” (Thank you) in response to all those who walked up to me.

I visited most of the coastal cities in Brasil. One common thing i noticed was that the people spent hours on the shores applying sun screen lotions and sun bathing just to get our dusky skin tone. They find our tone so beautiful. I thought to myself, “Why have I and all the Indians been brainwashed all these years by media, family, friends and cosmetic companies into thinking that dark is not beautiful. This is absolutely crazy!!”

That brought an end to my thinking that being fair was beautiful. I began to embrace my complexion and everything about me completely. It took an experience in a strange land for me to know and understand what it was when God said I was His Masterpiece!”

Remember, the grass will always look greener on the other side. The only thing that will keep you content is appreciating your own uniqueness and consciously making a shift in your mind to accept who you are created to be and celebrate the remarkable handiwork that you are. You are absolutely stunning just the way you are!

[su_box title=”About the author” style=”soft” box_color=”#f3f3f3″ title_color=”#000000″ radius=”5″]Anita Esther Joseph is a multitalented dancer, singer and freelance photographer.[/su_box]