July 07, 2019


Hi Auntie,
I am a 22-year-old post-graduate student, at the extreme limit of an inferiority complex regarding my looks. I am a mediocre looking girl, but brilliant and a topper in my batch, which I consistently overlook and always underestimate (as one of my best friends said to me). I don’t know what to do? All my siblings are very charming. I am just fed up with my own thoughts. All my mates and even my family and friends admire physical beauty. I am sure even you have observed how much people around you pay attention to beautiful people. Whenever I see a pretty girl, I don’t get jealous, but I always wonder why God created divisions and I just get complexed about my looks, complexion, height, etc. Auntie, please help me out of this and control my dazed personality. I want to be a mature and confident woman who can rely on her abilities.

Besides, I regularly read your column and your words mean a lot to me.
Feeling Blah

Dear Feeling Blah,
Okay girl, let me get straight to it … beauty is subjective! It truly is. There are cultures around the world where being overweight is considered beautiful. Auntie recently saw a short video on social media about Mauritania, where a girl was being force-fed by her family to fatten her up. Now, while I don’t condone force-feeding or overeating, this is just to draw your attention to varying beauty standards. In Mauritania, a woman’s size indicates the amount of space she occupies in her husband’s heart, while in other parts of the world, people starve themselves in an attempt to get unhealthy skinny because that is the standard of beauty where they live.

‘I have a complex about my looks’

For instance, there is a Pakistani actor, Sara Ali who Auntie finds incredibly pretty, while a lot of people fawn over another very gori actor who Auntie just doesn’t seem to understand what the fuss is about. We have all grown up with others (people, our culture, the media, companies making fairness creams) telling us what counts as beautiful. Please understand that often, these are not our opinions, but the opinions of others.

Gora rang is not inherently beautiful, just as kaala rang is not inherently unattractive. This thinking has unfortunately become a part of our culture and it is time to look past it and think about what you actually do find beautiful. Secondly, yes, people are attracted to people who meet society’s standards of beauty. That’s a reality. But what does that mean? It means that a lot of people pay attention to these people and also associate a lot of unrealistic qualities to them. They automatically assume that such people lead a charmed life; that they wade through their mansions and their lives without a hitch; that they pay their taxes. Let me break your bubble darling. No one’s life is as exciting as it seems on Instagram. And no one looks like their Insta picture either. Think about how people post on social media. They use a filter, they crop out the ugly, they paste a huge smile (even when they are feeling foul) and they click. And that is what you see. It’s a moment that has been created. Doctored. And you assume that life is better and easier for them.

The fact is, every one of us is attractive to some and not-so-attractive to others. You know that old saying ‘Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder’? Believe it. Because beauty is subjective. It is nature’s way of keeping the balance.

At the same time, I would urge you to start a mental diet. Stop putting yourself down by telling yourself that you are mediocre-looking. Who decided that you look mediocre? Also, please start eating healthy and exercising regularly. These will help you to become active, look your best and will help put you in a positive frame of mind. When you take care of your body, you automatically feel better about yourself, which makes you feel confident, which is what makes you truly beautiful.

Auntie will not reply privately to any query. Please send concise queries to:

Published in Dawn, EOS, July 7th, 2019