Who Decides What ‘Ugly’ Is?

I have a lot of thoughts.

I almost enter a trance-like state when my train of almost ceaseless thoughts starts.

So, I have decided to write them down.

Recently, I was waiting at a dental clinic for my appointment. My eyes drifted across the waiting room and then they stopped at a glossy magazine which had a beautiful woman on its cover. I picked it up and flipped through its pages. They were filled with advertisements of beauty products with models and actors trying to sell them to us.

I had been lured before. Most don’t work. At least not on a commoner like me. I wondered if the ones who dictate to us what being beautiful is, use them too. If what they were selling us was really ‘beauty’ in a bottle, or just a product that enslaved us and compelled us to want to be more like them and less like us?

Then I wondered – what was wrong with being ‘us’? Or ‘me’, rather. What was wrong with me? Why do the images and pictures of beautiful models bother me? To such an extent that they make me uneasy. Unsure of myself. Maybe it’s because I am just a jealous person. Maybe that is all I am.

A jealous prick.

Then again, I know I am not. I cannot be so vile. For all I am, I am just a commoner who hates the Kardashians. That’s about it.

Maybe it is because I could never really comprehend the meaning of ‘beauty’. Perfect face proportions, high cheekbones, full lips and all the facial privileges that have defined what being beautiful is. Of course, beauty is not just about the face.

It is about the whole body.

Petite with a slender frame or voluptuous with sexy curves; they are the temples where beauty resides. Not in a disproportionate body with odd deposits of fat.

I have had my struggles with low self-esteem. I live in a place where people know that racism is bad, but then people are referred to as ‘apes’. I wonder how you defend that. The physical appearance of people being compared to that of non-humans.

I am not jealous of anyone. Not of the girl whose motto is ‘beauty lies in the heart’ under a photoshopped photograph. Not even of those celebrities who post about being true to themselves while changing their colours at every whim, just to be liked by others. Maybe that is what beauty is about. Being liked by everyone, at least on Facebook.

So, by this simple logic, what is not beautiful is simply ugly. But who decides what ugly is, though? A mother cannot. A father wouldn’t. Maybe it is the all-loving God. Stories tell us that at least beauty was decided by the creator, right?  Myths speak of beauty being a gift given foolishly by blind Fate. So those who didn’t receive it were ugly.

But that doesn’t make any sense to me. Neither do poems, stories, and songs about the celebration of beauty. How can it just be a commodity available to an exclusive class of people? I mean, if ‘beauty’ is really beautiful, then, like all the beautiful things in the world such as love, freedom, and happiness, it must belong to everyone. There cannot exist an antonym. Ugly must thus be a myth. A myth so rooted in our conscience that it appears to be a reality.

But then again at the end, I am just someone whom you might have passed by or seen as a blurry figure at the corner of your television screen. A simple no one, who had these thoughts while reading a magazine at the dental clinic.

I wonder, who can you really compare yourself to, when no one in the universe looks exactly like you? Even your twin?

So who can decide what ugly is? How can anyone not be ‘pretty enough’, when everyone looks so different?

Beauty has many faces. To be precise, 7 billion. And you are one of them, and so am I.

A version of this post was originally published on the author’s blog.