It's Time To Get Rid Of Eurocentric Beauty Standards And Embrace Individual Physical Appearances

It's Time To Get Rid Of Eurocentric Beauty Standards And Embrace Individual Physical Appearances

As a young girl, I spent hours googling things like "DIY skin lightening masks" and browsed through hundreds of websites looking for masks I could make with items I had at home.

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Growing up, I was surrounded by Bollywood music, intricately detailed salwar kameezes and lots of curry. I loved everything about Bengali culture. But, growing up Bengali also meant Eurocentric beauty standards were the norm. Fair skin equated to beauty. Being light skinned was considered the number one factor of whether or not a girl is deemed attractive. It felt like the worst thing a girl could be was dark.

In Bengali households, girls are taught that the lighter you are, the prettier, leading to a childhood of insecurities and lack of comfort in my skin. Commercials of bleaching products like Fair & Lovely were advertised constantly on Bengali TV channels. In these advertisements, girls with dark skin were unable to get their dream job or their dream guy, but once they began using Fair & Lovely, and inevitably got lighter, they magically were rewarded with everything they'd ever wanted and more. This standard of beauty was ingrained in my brain and I found it beyond challenging to embrace and love the skin I was in.

As a young girl, I spent hours googling things like "DIY skin lightening masks" and browsed through hundreds of websites looking for masks I could make with items I had at home. I used masks composed of turmeric, milk, and rice flour. I used raw papaya on my face. I tried lemon, cucumber, aloe vera, ANYTHING, that these websites told me would help me become lighter. I even used Fair & Lovely, at only nine years old, in efforts to be a lighter skin tone. I spent days crying, wondering why God had punished me with dark skin. I spent years questioning my beauty and hoping that one day I'd be light skinned. I spent months trying to scrape the darkness off of me. Nothing ever completely worked. I viewed my skin tone as a disease, that I had to get rid of.

In my head, being fair was the epitome of beauty and being dark was synonymous with being ugly. I spent so many summers indoors, so I wouldn't tan. When I did go outside, I made sure to lather my skin in sunscreen and try to cover myself up as much as possible, so that no part of me could get darker than I already was. There were years of aunties exclaiming how kala, dark, I had gotten. My sister and I were even distinguished based on our skin color. She was the shada, light one and I was the kala one. It was horrible to have my insecurities constantly brought up to me as if it was just a simple talking matter.

I wasted so many years, trying to live up to this impossible European standard. I wasted my precious childhood feeling insecure and defeated because of my desire to be lighter. Because of my need to feel beautiful and deep-seated belief that beauty meant being light-skinned, I didn't realize that beauty is so much more than the color of my skin. I was blinded by this so very wrong thought process that I and many Bengali girls have drilled into our heads at a young, influential age. It took years of self-hatred and insecurities, to finally discover that beauty is not, and never will be, defined by Eurocentric beauty standards. This view is problematic and it's time to address this standpoint that South Asian cultures have on skin color.

It's time that us brown girls love the skin that we're in. We have melanin and we should be proud of that. We shouldn't listen to anyone or anything that tells us that being fair means being lovely. No one range of skin tone should ever be deemed beautiful or hideous. Being literally any skin tone is beautiful and we shouldn't be made to feel like only one shade is.

Who said beauty was defined by skin tone and made Eurocentric beauty standards become our perception of attractive? Who said we had to continue to feel uncomfortable in our own skin because we're not light skinned? We have the ability to question what beauty really is and the strength to go beyond years of instilled values and our culture's definition of lovely. We have the ability to redefine beauty. We're all beautiful, regardless of the color of our skin. It's time to break free of the Eurocentric beauty standards holding us back and embrace our exquisiteness and truly love the skin we're in.

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20 Small Tattoos With Big Meanings

Tattoos with meaning you can't deny.
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It's tough to find perfect tattoos with meaning.

You probably want something permanent on your body to mean something deeply, but how do you choose a tattoo that will still be significant in 5, 10, 15, or 50 years? Over time, tattoos have lost much of their stigma and many people consider them a form of art, but it's still possible to get a tattoo you regret.

So here are 20 tattoos you can't go wrong with. Each tattoo has its own unique meaning, but don't blame me if you still have to deal with questions that everyone with a tattoo is tired of hearing!

SEE RELATED: "Please Stop Asking What My Tattoos Mean"

1. A semi-colon indicates a pause in a sentence but does not end. Sometimes it seems like you may have stopped, but you choose to continue on.


2. "A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor."


3. Top symbol: unclosed delta symbol which represents open to change. Bottom symbol: strategy.


4. "There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls."


5. Viking symbol meaning "create your own reality."


6.Greek symbol of Inguz: where there's a will, there's a way.

7. Psalm 18:33 "He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights."


8. 'Ohm' tattoo that represents 4 different states of consciousness and a world of illusion: waking (jagrat), dreaming (swapna), deep sleep (sushupti), transcendental state (turiya) and world of illusion (maya)


9. Alchemy: symbolizes copper, means love, balance, feminine beauty and artistic creativity.


10. The Greek word “Meraki" means to do something with soul, passion, love and creativity or to put yourself in to whatever you do.


11. Malin (Skövde, Sweden) – you have to face setbacks to be able to go forward.

12. Symbol meaning "thief" from the Hobbit. It was the rune Gandalf etched into Bilbo's door so the dwarves could find his house.


13. “Lux in tenebris" means “light in darkness."

14. Anchor Tattoo: symbolizing strength & stability, something (or someone) who holds you in place, and provides you the strength to hold on no matter how rough things get.

15."Ad Maiora" is translated literally as “Towards greater things." It is a formula of greeting used to wish more success in life, career or love.


16. A glyphs means “explore." It was meant as a reminder for me to never stop exploring.

17. "Aut inveniam viam aut faciam," meaning roughly, "Either I shall find a way, or I will make one."


18. Lotus Flower. It grows in muddy water, and it is this environment that gives forth the flower's first and most literal meaning: rising and blooming above the murk to achieve enlightenment.

19. The zen (or ensō) circle to me represents enlightenment, the universe & the strength we all have inside of us.

20. Two meanings. The moon affirms life. It looks as if it is constantly changing. Can reminds us of the inconsistency of life. It is also symbolizes the continuous circular nature of time and even karma.


SEE ALSO: Sorry That You're Offended, But I Won't Apologize For My Tattoos


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10 Stages That Everyone Who Changes Their Hair Experiences

Maybe it's a big snip or a new color, no matter the difference, new hair comes with a new vibe.

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Changing your hair can be a little like a roller coaster ride—there are lots of different feelings and ways it can go. We've all been through that one phase where your hair was so bad you just block out that part of your life. The biggest fear as a young adult is reliving the middle school hair situation in a time where you can't just laugh it off as an "I was a kid" moment. When you change up your hair drastically as an adult it can really end one of two ways: a new mature, more "wow" look, or a repeat of the sixth grade Dora triangle hair. Here's a series of thought one goes through when they decide to do the big chop.

1. "You got this! You need change."

Dogogo

We all know the feeling, when you have short hair you want to grow it out and when you have long you hair you have this dire urge to chop it all off.

2. "This will be fun."

dance hair

You know, sometimes you just need a change. Lots of people find that their hair can come to define them, so changing it up can be nerve-wracking or just an adventurous way to explore a new part of yourself. New hair comes with a new vibe, which may be just what we need in the new year.

3. "So far, so good..."

barber at work

So this is that moment when your sitting in the salon chair and they're making those first few snips. Your hair floats slowly to the ground and you feel content. All those dead ends leaving you and your life forever.

4. "Oh no, oh no, OH NO!"

the real way to cut hair

And this is the moment when it feels like the hair dresses cut too much. Your hair is now falling to the ground in much larger chunks. Why did you sign up for this again?

5. "What have I done?!"

hair cut sad

A big chop, a big chop?!?!? Who in their right mind thought this was a good idea? So what if it worked on your friends? You don't have their face shape or hair texture. This is all wrong!

6. "Someone fix this!"

own bangs

Maybe you just went to the wrong salon. Someone has to be able to fix this fiasco, right?

7. " Ahhhhh, I hate it!"

ohno hair

Worst case scenario, a wig will do? Or you could just flee the country.

8. "What will people think?"

bird hair

How are you ever going to show your face in public again? People know you for your [insert hair characteristic here] and now it's gone. "No one is going to like me now!"

9. "How does one even style this?"

doggo help

Well, its done now. It feels so much lighter. Now that it's shorter and your hair isn't being weighed down, it actually looks fuller. But how should you wear it now? It barely stays in your usual ponytail.

10. " Wait...I actually really like this."

good hair day

Wait, actually, you like the way you look. It's very low-maintenance too. This is going to be fun!

My experience with cutting my hair went down pretty much like this series of thoughts. I cut my hair from butt length to about shoulder length. To make matters worse, I did it myself. It was a very dramatic experience. There were some tears, some frustration, and a dad that had to come to the rescue, but now, about a month later, I have gotten nothing but compliments. I am super confident with short hair, and my shower time has been cut down drastically. What more could I want?

When I was freaking out about what people would think about my hair my best friend reminded me that, just like a piece of clothing or makeup, my hair is something that accentuates who I am.

When I felt dumb for writing a whole article about hair, I sat down and thought for a second about why it is such a big deal. Hair can hold a lot of meaning for people. It can have cultural and religious significance. It can be a way to outwardly describe how you feel on the inside. Hair is a big way to express yourself and your personality. There's a reason why a good hair day can change your mood.

This experience was my attempt at figuring out who I am without this huge part of my appearance. I got a lot of "Your long hair is who you are, Nandini" during my first semester in college. So this change was a drastic one. Personally, I feel like it was a way for me to portray myself in a new way, from an angle that maybe people haven't seen before: a more serious, more professional, no-nonsense kind of way. But the end result of this endeavor is an understanding that that side of me has always existed, no hairstyle is going to make it disappear. The difference exists in my confidence.

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