Why did that feel so bad?
Today my friend passed a comment about the way I look and consequently failed the test of friendship. It was a joke. It always is. "When was the last time you got a manicure?" he said. This was the same friend, who just yesterday treated me to dinner for women's day. What started as two people going for a pleasant walk to revel in the beautiful weather, ended up in absolute silence and awkwardness.
What he said took me back to that scene in Sex In The City where Samantha asks Miranda when was the last time she got a wax. Miranda got up and stormed off, but their friendship remained. Well, today was my breaking point. Lately, I've been feeling very conscious about the way I look, and I haven't quite been able to place my not-so-manicured finger on what/who is making me feel this way. Is it the way that men label women as "hot" or "not hot?" Is it snide, teasing comments about my face or my hair or my weight or my dark circles or my nails? Why does it matter to me so much is the real question.
I also thought back to a poem I wrote two years ago, titled "Ode to My Fingernails." Here's the first paragraph.
I always abhorred you
the way you curved,
fat, chubby, rough around the edges
the way you scratched, scraped, screeched
left traces behind.
the way you collected trophies
Of your latest endeavors
Dear imaginary reader, you might be curious about what happened after my friend said that. I got up and was about to storm off like Miranda. What ended happening was only a tad bit more mature. We walked back on a windy Tuesday evening. Half the way we were drowned in silence. I did scoff here and there to control myself and he asked if I was okay. Midway back home, I lost it. I told him that I felt bad about what he said, even if he didn't have bad intentions or even it was a joke. Somewhere along the lines as I explained why I felt bad, I opened a bottle of sour memories of my childhood, society, culture, and even media. All were contributing factors to body image and self-consciousness. He represented all that is wrong about society. My grandmother used to chastise my mother for eating a leafy vegetable when she was pregnant with me because I was darker in color when I was born. Other family members used to say you're looking fairer ("better") today. I wasted years and boatloads of gram flour in the form of Uptan flowing down the drain because I used to scrub it onto my skin along with this notion that fair is the only good thing out there. And I still feel conscious.
When I asked my father in frustration, "Why do people make you conscious?" he had a more direct and straightforward answer. "Because you get conscious." If you don't let them get under your skin and don't give them the power to have an effect on you, you'll be fine. He also said I should just be upfront and say I don't like it, which is what I did.
My friend eventually admitted that he didn't know that body image was a touchy topic for me and that he'll be more careful next time. I told him that I wish I was more confident about the way I perceive myself and wasn't so "touchy" (I really want to be one of those easy-going and laid-back people but then I wouldn't be writing the charged-up blog with a fiery passion). I don't know exactly why it feels so bad when someone defines "hotness" as white, skinny, tall or when someone comments on the state of my nails. I don't know if it's because of past experiences or the norms set by society and what we see in movies. Whatever the reason it may be, it hurts. Anyways. I'm letting it go in the hopes that things and the way women are spoken to changes and people are more considerate about body-image issues.
Not getting my nails done cause they're busy typing,