March 20, 2017
By Krithika Pennathur

When I think about beauty, I sometimes want to cry.

Surrounded by eurocentric beauty standards in magazines and attending predominantly white schools, I find myself struggling with how my looks fit in with those standards. I have birthmarks all over my skin, I have had a unibrow for most of my adolescent life, and I choose not to wear makeup.

I have had people make me feel like I am not beautiful, simply because of my skin tone. I have had people ridicule my unibrow, saying it makes me look Indian with disgusted faces. I have had people tell me I need to see a doctor for the marks on my skin, because they are glaring unattractive. I have had people literally beg me to wear foundation, to lighten my skin.

My story is not in isolation.

 

When I think about beauty, I sometimes want to scream.

While on one hand, people have suggested me to change my looks, others have embraced my looks. And when I mean embraced, I mean overly embraced.

The technical term for this is Fetishization.

Historically, people of color have been under the lense of white, western gaze. On one hand, you are expected to be held up to a standard of beauty that is inherently equated with whiteness. But on the other hand, there is a sense of obsessive curiosity that results in people objectifying you because of your skin tone.

I have had people tell me that they’re into South Asian women. I have had people tell me incredibly sexual things about my “Indian” body.

My story is not in isolation.

 

When I talk about beauty, I sometimes want to be bold. Actually scratch that, all of the time.

I want people to know that my “Indian” body can not be defined by this paradoxical gaze. You can not define my attractiveness or lack of attractiveness because of my race or ethnic features. I am not here for you. My beauty is not for you to judge.