Here's Why Desi Obsession With An “Ideal Beauty” Is Extremely Dangerous

By Zeest Qureshi | 22 Oct, 2017

Standards and “ideals” for beauty are causing a lot of problems for everyone. The body shaming in desi homes always starts with ‘but beta no one will marry you’ and ends with multiple versions of ridicule like, ‘if you don’t put on whitening creams’ or ‘if you don’t lose weight’ and the list goes on. However, the obsession with an “ideal” version of beauty doesn’t begin or end with the concept of marriage and looking perfect on your wedding day, it is a problem that begins from the early years when you are not even on the ‘rishta market’ yet.

Desi obsession with an ideal version of beauty has ruined so many lives


Saleha shared her story explaining why she never got the the opportunity to play sports in school. She was forced to quit the Basketball team in school when she was only in the fifth grade because her parents were afraid of her darkening complexion while her brother got to play all the sports he wanted.

“I had never even considered that my skin tone could rank higher than my love for a sport.”

Her parents hid behind the excuse that she needed to focus on her studies if she wanted to become a doctor and so she spent all her life studying very hard but when she wanted to leave the country to do her residency, she was not allowed to do so.


Standards of beauty continue to change every few years but the way that they are imposed culturally is very problematic

Source: BullyProof / Piphany Productions

Mariam told us about her experience growing up in a house where everyone considered it their right to comment on how much she ate. She complained about the way her family and her father in particular commented on how she should watch her diet.

“He would order me to just stop eating in the middle of dinner and this was too humiliating for me to continue having dinner with my family. I cried on his comments once or twice and then I stopped having food with my family entirely.”

She said that she realizes that her weight gain was dangerous for her health but there were better ways of encouraging her to lose weight than taunting in the middle of family dinners. 

Mariam’s story shows us how important it is to raise children with a sense of self esteem while promoting healthy habits.

I had similar experiences growing up as a  ‘healthy child’.

I was 12 years old when my mother started buying me flowy clothes so that I didn’t look too provocatively dressed. I started looking like I was 16 when I was only 12 and I couldn’t wear the same clothes my friends could because I was fat and they were thin.


I figured that if I lost weight, I could wear what I wanted and I started starving myself at the age of 14. I was anorexic till I was in college. Living alone with supportive friends allowed me to slowly get body confident. It took me four years of college to get my appetite back and my weight eventually stabilized.

It is sad that fat and dark have become synonyms for ugly because that’s just not true


These stories should serve as a lesson to families to raise their children with a strong sense of self-esteem and for teenagers to not be embarrassed by their friends because of how they look.

Here is a message to all the women starving themselves and spending their money on fairness creams in an attempt to be perfect. Love yourself more than anyone else so that you take care of yourself physically and mentally.

Everyone’s body is different. Embrace yours.


Cover image via: Hum Network Limited

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