A CONFIDENT woman is a BEAUTIFUL woman.
In our superficial society, there are numerous theories that attempt to explain how we measure and identify what is beautiful. Mathematically, the golden section is used to analyze ratio, proportions and symmetry to establish a standard of beauty. Some scientists believe that this theory governs whether or not you find someone physically attractive. As a society, we can’t seem to get away from this prefixed definition of beauty. Through the Media we are constantly bombarded with images of celebrities whose lavish lifestyle and appearance govern societal notions of beauty.
These messages contrast the core values that I grew up with. I was fortunate to be taught by strong women whom I trust, that it doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside. Logically, one’s looks will never stand the test of time. Eventually, all beauty fades. However, the way that you feel about yourself deep inside will have an impact on how you carry yourself for the rest of your life.
Recently, I worked with a focus group of South Asian teenage girls. I chose to narrow in on this demographic after a startling discussion with a guidance counselor from the school board. After finding out that I was Tamil, she expressed concern because many of the Tamil-Canadian teenage girls that she encounters through her job have low self-confidence. This has a significant impact on the way they relate to the opposite sex. Although I was well aware that this was a problem among my female students in general, I was particularly alarmed that the counselor’s comments were specifically directed towards girls from my own culture.
We chose to focus the group discussion on the topic of confidence by asking South Asian girls between the ages of 14 and 18: What breaks down your confidence?
Below are some responses from the study:
- When he ignores me in front of his friends
- When he pays more attention to other girls
- When he doesn’t compliment my outfit when it took me hours to get ready.
- When he would rather go out with the boys than spend time with me.
- When he takes hours to answer my text messages
- When he cancels our plans.
- When people spread rumors
- When someone is better than you at something or more attractive than you.
What surprised me most about this experience is that most of the girls found it extremely challenging to answer the converse question – What builds self esteem in your life? After providing a few predictable answers such as obtaining good grades and accomplishing personal goals, we were met with long lulls of silence. Yet the girls had no problem contributing feedback about all the things in their life that destroy their self-confidence. This overwhelming response only supported the counselors’ assertions.
Many teenage girls really do define their self worth by how boys they like treat them. The danger is that if they do not learn other ways to build their self esteem, they will continue to define themselves by relationships for the rest of their lives. This will affect how they see themselves every time they look in the mirror. As a community we cannot allow this to happen to our young women. It is a slippery slope that can lead to a dangerous road of self-deprecation.
We must show young Tamil women that REAL beauty comes from establishing strong self-esteem and confidence. Instead of how fair your skin is, how symmetrical your face is, which celebrity you want to look like, or how the boy you are dating treats you - how beautiful you feel should be defined by how you have built your character.
The first step to the formula of real beauty needs to be Knowledge. An education is a precious commodity, which is always stressed from a young age in the Tamil culture. Growing up in Canada, we have the opportunity to feed our brains with information from a plethora of different disciplines at both the secondary and post-secondary levels.
Both women and men should invest time and energy into establishing an understanding about history, politics, current events on top of what is in their math and science textbooks. Possessing a ‘Beautiful Mind’ allows you to justify and defend your beliefs. In my opinion, there is nothing more attractive that an individual who is able to eloquently explain their perspective or position on a particular issue to another person.
The next step to this formula is having a Voice. No matter what any man says to you, women were not put on this earth to simply look pretty and procreate. If you rely on just your looks to get through life, eventually you will lose your only survival technique. Your voice is the most powerful accessory to your brain. It is also the best way to articulate your personality. What is the point to possessing all that knowledge if it cannot be shared with authority to the world? Make yourself heard, because your opinions have the potential to make a difference in the lives of others.
Self reflection is another essential element to this formula. Embrace your strengths as well as your faults. Every woman needs to recognize what they need to improve upon, as well as celebrate the unique qualities that make you who you are. Self reflection and self-awareness go hand in hand. The road to self-awareness can be extremely challenging. But once you have achieved it, you will be able to be comfortable in any situation - whether that means being alone or socializing in a room full of people.
This path will also teach you to choose the people in your life wisely. You want to surround yourself with positive and supportive people who bring value to your life. According to my favourite formula – if things aren’t adding up in your life, start subtracting those around you.
The final step to feeling beautiful: Do what you love. If you pursue things that you love to do, you will be damn good at them. Not only will others be able to recognize your talents, but you will be able to feel in every fiber of yourself that you are doing what your were born to do. This will act as a daily builder of self-confidence and provide purpose to your life.
Figuring out what you love to do and what you know you are good at is the key. My writing builds my confidence. For me, words are like paint on a canvas and every article is a personal work of art. With every word I type, I feel more beautiful just with the knowledge that I created this.
Once you truly posses these qualities, no matter what anyone does to you - even if they try to make you feel like you are not good enough for them - their actions will become irrelevant. This is because deep inside yourself, you will know better! Knowledge, personality, self -awareness and confidence in your own personal strength cannot be taken away by another human being.
And in the process of this journey to discover the unique formula of beauty that fits your life, you may stumble upon someone who brings a little peace to your life. A person who can recognize and appreciate everything that you have to offer and compliment your character in every single way. Someone who makes you smile and inspires you. That one individual who makes your soul feel a little less lost in this world. In the words of Carrie Bradshaw; “If you can find someone to love the you that YOU love, well, that's just fabulous!”