(New Delhi) “I am someone who has grown up being discriminated against for my skin colour and weight. It is typically related to the fact that you are a girl; nobody asks men these questions. The criteria when judging a man is that he should be doing well for himself in his career. But for a girl, it is not enough. You have to be a lot of other things as well. 

It started with the family because a number of my relatives used to say, “Oh, you are so cute and you have beautiful features but you are dark” or “How can you be so nice looking and yet be dark.” As if someone dark-skinned can’t be nice looking. At a younger age even your friends can  also be insensitive. I have heard things like “Your mother and sister don’t even look like you; are you sure you are related to them?” or “How can they be so nice looking and how can you be so ugly”.

I was in a co-ed boarding school right from the beginning. You know how teenage boys are. They can get very mean. I was left out of a lot of activities because I was not nice looking. I have grown up with the idea that you have to be nice looking, otherwise people are going to be rude and mean to you. 

I think that’s an insecurity that hardly ever goes away. So whenever something on a personal front goes wrong, then you start questioning everything all over again. Being at a “marriageable  age”, when certain things don’t work out, then you keep thinking if this is why it has not worked out. You start doing all the permutations and combinations in your head. It all adds up and snowballs in your head.

The same people really compliment me and say all kinds of things to flatter me but it doesn’t matter now. The whole point is that we shouldn’t judge someone by their colour or weight; it doesn’t define them as a person.”