Beauty? I don’t fit the definition of beauty. I have an inflated nose and small eyes. I covered my “flaws” by stuffing my inner self with goodness, but that wasn’t sufficient. I looked at myself in the mirror – tanned color, chapped lips, swollen eyes with dark circles – I looked like someone still living in the Stone Age. “Why would somebody love this ugly girl,” I murmured to myself. I wanted to scratch my face with my nails. I wanted to smash it and scrape the rust from it. I wanted to sweep my uneven skin tone. I wanted to peel off my skin and rub off my dark circles. I don’t hate myself. I used to find myself beautiful, but consistent rejections made me believe otherwise. After each rejection, I would tell myself, “You’re ugly.” I want to hug myself, tightening my arms around my body to console myself. But my soul bursts into tears. My pain has snatched words from my mouth. I used to find myself beautiful, but rejection made me believe otherwise. The rejection yelled, “You’re ugly.” It quietened my fragile, weak and frightened self. It snatched my hopes, my will to live. Murdering someone’s body is a crime, but why aren’t those who murder someone’s soul punished? If people think I’m ugly, I’m not responsible for their perception of my beauty. Why do they mock me because of their inability to see the goodness in me? I have a good heart, why don’t they see that? I put a lot of makeup to cover my so-called flaws, but I still get taunted. People scoff me for my dark complexion. Why don’t they see my inner self is filled with light? They are pulling me down to the level from which a dark-complexion poor girl like me can’t come up, burying me with their demands of beauty and riches. The constant expectation of a certain standard of beauty harms women. It causes emotional harm, and we need to stop adding to it. Published in Daily Times, September 4th 2018.