Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, or at least that’s what they say.

She looked at the image in the mirror and what she saw was not beauty. Never has been. “May be it’s the eyes, it’s not sharp enough” she thought to herself. She looked closely into the mirror, analysing all the flaws trying to pick the most prominent one. But she knew she didn’t have to think so hard to de-code her biggest flaw – her skin, her skin like dark chocolate. To anyone else she looked normal, much like any other person from South with dark skin. But to her, the darkness felt like her biggest limitation.

She looked at the down at the array of cosmetics that graced her dressing table. Her paint brushes designed to hide her flaws. Kajol to make her eyes look sharper, mascara to make her eyelashes longer, lip colour to make her lips fuller and then…… the show stopper. She traced her hand over the slender bottle of foundation, designed to effectively cover all her imperfections and as the sales girl told ” this will make you look two shades fairer, madam. ”

“Did it really matter?” She thought to herself. ” did it REALLY matter that my skin is dark. Does the definition of beauty finally come and stop at the colour of one’s skin”. It frustrated her that every time she was introduced, someone would make a random comment like” she is pretty despite being dark”. Why the ” despite being dark”. This obsession for fair skin made no sense to her. It really shouldn’t matter.

Switch on the television, look at matrimonial sites, watch the movies- it’s everywhere, continuously feeding into the pschye of a woman. Her mind rewinded back to a movie she saw just a week back. The current craze of Bollywood cinema – 2 States. Punjabi boy meets not-so-Tamil-looking Tamil girl, falls in love and gets married. And then comes the million dollar question – would that happen, had she really looked like a South Indian ? Would the happily ever after really happen? Experience told her ” Most probably the answer will be NO.” The tears began to roll down her cheeks. It didn’t matter how smart she was or what kind of person she strived to be. In the end people will judge a book by its cover. People will judge by how you look not who you are.

She looked up at her reflection and what she saw was not sorrow, disappoint or shame. It was anger. An anger that has constantly been burning her inside. An anger that was eating her alive, an anger that held her back…

She flung the slender foundation bootle against the mirror. Sharp lines cut across her reflections. A distorted image of herself stared back at her. Her broken reflection. She knew she was not alone. Behind many closed doors there hid a multitude of broken reflections. In the west it would have been considered racism. But in her country it was part of what was called “culture “. A culture where the most revered goddesses were the colour of midnight. Where powerful women were worshiped and respected. But that stops at the temple gate. The real woman must suffer the hypocrisy of society everyday.

She sat and sobbed thinking of the pointless sorrow inflicted on a woman’s soul. For the women who spend hours painting themselves to please the man they love. For the little girls who have been neglected because of the colour of their skin. For all the women who lost something they love because beauty was not on their side. She did not know how much time had gone by before her tears had run dry.

She slowly pulled herself off the ground and suddenly saw her foundation bottle lying on the floor. She picked it up, looked at the reflection in the mirror and thought

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, or at least that’s what they say…….