Unconventional Beauty: Perspectives

Keepin it real.
Keepin it real.

As promised it’s time to get down to nitty and gritty world of Pakistani beauty perceptions and its challenges. Let’s face it, we don’t all look like those poster girls they broadcast to us, most of us our averagely looking. However, thanks to Pakistani ridiculous beauty standards some of us don’t even pass the “average” stage. Just like nearly everything else, Pakistani beauty standards also are influenced by European beauty. For instance, fair skin, light brown hair and coloured eyes. These are some attributes which are influenced by European beauty standards. The Pakistani culture has placed pressure on many young women to reach these standards and if we are physically, genetically unable to then we cannot be considered as beautiful. One thing I’ve never really asked or sadly even paid attention to is do Pakistani women and men ever find unconventional beauty appealing? Does the girl with the narrow brown eyes, brown skin, and thin fine lips ever be considered as “pretty”? Does anything that’s different to the standard be found appealing? I’ve decided to look deeper into this by interviewing women who all embed their own different beautiful features to see what they think.

The questions I proposed were simple yet reflective in order to gain a conceptual understanding of each candidate.

Questions:

  • What does “unconventional beauty” mean to you?
  • What’s the biggest pet peeve about Pakistani beauty standards do you have?
  • Do you think you meet Pakistani beauty standards?
  • Would you rather look the poster girl and fit in or are you happy with your unconventional look?

Now time for the juicy part!

Sundus Mahmood- Age 21

  • What does “unconventional beauty” mean to you?  

Unconventional beauty to me means, not society’s typical idea of beautiful. Not what most people would agree is beautiful. It’s a type of beauty we’re not used to seeing on our TV screens. But what’s ‘unconventional’ changes all the time depending on celeb looks. At one point red hair would have been seen as unconventional but as soon as Rihanna dyed her hair red, it was the norm. But I supposed to me it’s something different to what I would be attracted to.

  •  What’s the biggest pet peeve about Pakistani beauty standards do you have?

My biggest pet peeve about Pakistani beauty standard is its a pretty old Hollywood & Bollywood perception of beauty. Every girl should be petite, fair skinned and have small facial features, but that isn’t naturally possible for us all. We don’t all have the same genes, we don’t live in the same places, we don’t eat the same things, God did not intend for us to all look the same. If we don’t look like the ideal Pakistani beauty, we’re told to lose weight or use fair & lovely so we look smaller & fairer. But why should we? If we’re happy with the way we look, why should we alter our appearance to satisfy others.

  • Do you think you meet Pakistani beauty standards?

Yes & no. I do because I’m quite petite but no because I have bigger facial features. Ideally a Pakistani girl should have a small nose & lips but hardly anyone in my family has that so it would have been odd if I did. My skin is on the fairer side so I guess they’d be impressed with that but to them you could always be fairer loll.

  • Would you rather look the poster girl and fit in or are you happy with your unconventional look?

I’m very happy with my unconventional look. If we all aimed for the poster girl look, we would all look the same. Everyone has insecurities no matter how much other people tell them they’re beautiful. It’s all about being comfortable in your own skin and knowing you’re a 10/10 and not needing anyone else to validate that.

Anonymous: Age 21

  • What does “unconventional beauty” mean to you?  

So cliché but I can’t label beauty. I feel like it comes in all forms and shapes. I think tyra banks is beautiful and also think Kelly Clarksons beautiful. Two very different looking woman. As I wrote that I realised the correlation between the two. Strong independent women.

  • What’s the biggest pet peeve about Pakistani beauty standards do you have?

Pet peeves about Pakistani beauty standards..

Definitely the fact they discriminate against skin complexion. My cousin has the most beautiful face ever but people will make comments that she’s ‘kaali’ (dark).

  • Do you think you meet Pakistani beauty standards?

Do I fit Pakistani standards

Sortve but I’m sure they would like me more if I was more fairer and slimmer. But then again my sister made a comment about how my Pakistani relatives liked that I was chubby. A real ‘aurat’  (woman) I am apparently.

  • Would you rather look the poster girl and fit in or are you happy with your unconventional look?

I am alot happier in my unconventional ways. Age has made me feel more comfortable in my skin 😀

Lubaba Khan aka Lubz: Age 18

  • What does “unconventional beauty” mean to you?

Unconventional beauty to me means beauty which is different it’s not what you see on everyone or what is accepted by everyone, its beauty which needs no validation it doesn’t have to meet the general stereotype.

  • What’s the biggest pet peeve about Pakistani beauty standards do you have?

My biggest pet peeve about Pakistani beauty is that your only considered beautiful if your fair skinned tall and slim, anything otherwise is seen as less beautiful. People make others feel like they have to alter their features or body to look a certain way just to be accepted. When reality beauty cannot be defined in a specific way, the definition of beauty varies from person to person. Not everyone is beautiful to everyone, what I might dislike might be attractive to someone else.

  • Do you think you meet Pakistani beauty standards?

I feel like generally I do fit into ideal Pakistani beauty standards of being fair skinny and fair skinned however, I feel like I do have some features which according to Pakistani beauty standards is not the ideal look such as my face shape for example having a more wider jaw line whereas the ideal Pakistani look would be a slim oval face shape along the likes of Bollywood actresses.

  • Would you rather look the poster girl and fit in or are you happy with your unconventional look?

I am happy with my unconventional look because everyone is different and unique although I do feel like everyone has something they would like to change about themselves which is based on worldwide beauty standards. The reason why people would want to change some features is always down to what everyone else perceives as beautiful and trying to achieve that stereotypical look which is considered ‘beautiful’.

Mehvish Manaf: Age 18

  • What does “unconventional beauty” mean to you?  

Unconventional beauty to me means being different and beautiful in your own unique way without fitting into the normal cultural ideal of “beautiful.” Physically this can be embracing rare features and face shapes that make you stand out.

  • What’s the biggest pet peeve about Pakistani beauty standards do you have?

My biggest pet peeve about the Pakistani beauty industry is the way that mass media and institutions promote and portray a stereotypical “perfect” woman, concisely focusing on traits such as a flawless fair complexion. In reality we know that everybody has existing physical flaws and ALL tones are beautiful.

  • Do you think you meet Pakistani beauty standards?

No, I do not think I meet the eligibility criteria of Pakistani beauty standards.

  • Would you rather look the poster girl and fit in or are you happy with your unconventional look

To some extent, yes at many points I have desired to be the poster girl but with time I have realised that everyone is different and the cover girl doesn’t look like the cover girl herself. That’s what has made me appreciate being different and accepting my own features rather than looking like everyone else.

Noreena Khan: Age 21

  • What does “unconventional beauty” mean to you?

Unconventional beauty means to not to possess the typical features society finds beautiful. Having a big nose, a thicker waistline, blemishes, freckles, birthmarks. It’s also someone who speaks their mind and isn’t afraid

  • What’s the biggest pet peeve about Pakistani beauty standards do you have?

That you have to be fair skin and skinny.

  • Do you think you meet Pakistani beauty standards?

No I do not meet Pakistani standards.

  • Would you rather look the poster girl and fit in or are you happy with your unconventional look?

I am happy with my unconventional look.

Looking back on each candidates response the common dominator which interlinks each woman to one another is the dislike towards fair skin and a slim frame being desired attributes, within the Pakistani community. Each candidate gave an honest and open-minded response, with women who have powerful minds like my beautiful candidates the aunties sipping on their Chais (tea) should be afraid!  It’s evident every woman and girl has her own insecurities no matter how pretty she may be. Society will never allow us to just love and accept ourselves for the way we are. As if being a female in this bizarre world isn’t hard enough. Why should be put ourselves down even more? Ladies, we are all beautiful, I know it sounds corny and so American (no offence to my American readers but you guys are known for bringing the cheese) we all should admire ourselves the way strangers may do. Pay attention to each feature you dislike till you start to notice how much it accentuates you! And as for the fair skin obsession, its  2015 dudettes  there is such a variety of refreshing skin tones and ethnicities. We can’t all look the same, our environment plays a huge factor in changing our skin tone too. Of course if the sun in constantly burning down on us we’re going to bake and get tanned. Those who have the fair skin obsession clearly do not have an understanding of basic science. Also, there’s a minor thing called DNA.

Overall, this first part to my ‘Unconventional Beauty’ series has been a great success, it’s allowed me to understand each individual has something to fret over, and if it’s not the chubby cheeks then it’s definitely the thin eyebrows. There is always something there to bring us down. However, as mentioned before it really comes down to perceptions. We just have to allow ourselves to change our perspective and that way we can all be flawless individuals ripping of society’s heavy burdened chain.

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3 thoughts on “Unconventional Beauty: Perspectives

  1. How boring if we all looked the same. I like your perspective on attributes we don’t like–keep focusing on them until you see how perfectly they fit you! Very wise. God made each one of us, and He knows what He’s doing!

    Liked by 1 person

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