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Beauty, who is the beholder?

I grew up with a big nose. It was my most prominent feature on my face. People joked it was the one thing my father could identify that I was his true daughter as. It was always a thing, the nose. As far back as I can remember, I wanted to fix the nose and my father even agreed to pay for it. It was pulled, in an attempt to make it less flat or longer, I don’t know which and it didn’t work. When my siblings made fun of me, it was with the nose. I was coined ‘Penelope’, from the movie, with the girl who had a snout instead of a nose. It stung but it was okay. I had grown to acknowledge that yes, it was an ugly nose, and you really couldn’t make fun of what I already made fun of.

I come from a family of beautiful people. And this is not an exaggeration. My mother is a visibly beautiful woman, she has the most beautiful smile and it lights up her face. My father is handsome, and he knows that even as he has aged, he has become somehow better looking. My parents know they are beautiful, and encourage and hype themselves up as such.

I on the other hand always felt like an ugly duckling. I had the nose, and a lisp. I was told I looked better in person by a teacher once, that was a blow. People reminded me of how beautiful my mother is, with a dash of, you sort of look like her. Just the looking like her part, not the beautiful like her. The nose which looked large on my face, was not as prominent on my father’s face either. And my sister, she has very beautiful features, small nose, full lips, large eyes which somehow made her look exotic.

When people have described me, I have been told I have a beautiful soul, a nice smile with my gap, but never been told I was beautiful. (At least not by someone who was not trying to get into my pants). I’ve dreaded photographs, till filters became a thing. I’ve used makeup as a tool, to make me feel more beautiful. But I have never felt beautiful. Cute maybe, beautiful smile, nice eyes, but not beautiful.

There’s an adage- “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.” It’s meant to mean beauty means different things to different people. But sometimes, we all collectively acknowledge women and men as beautiful, so who is then the beholder? Is it up to us, to be the beholders of our own beauty, or do we still seek external validation on who is deemed beautiful.

Some days I look at my face and admit that yes I am beautiful. I still have some qualms about my face, the nose is still there (I still think about surgery every now and then), but I have accepted that it’s part of what makes me uniquely me. My jaw is long (I’ve been told I would need some surgery there too, also to correct the lisp and make the gap smaller). My double chin, and too full cheeks. But I am beautiful. Coming into the swan that I believe I could be as I get older, and exuding more confidence in my smile, I know I’ll get there.

Not a writer, not-not a writer