What Real Beauty Means To Me | Tanvii.com - Indian Fashion, Lifestyle and Travel Blog

What Real Beauty Means To Me

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Thank you Dove for sponsoring this post. How do you define #RealBeauty?

Growing up in India, my interpretation of beauty was what had been fed to me over the years. An ideal Indian girl was - thin, fair, with sharp features (whatever that means), has thick-long-black hair, and polite (someone who never questions or retorts back). No other version of female existence would do. She has to meet all the characteristics or else has to hear back-handed-comments like, "She is bright and good in studies, but ...", "She is quite smart but ..." 

I was (and still am!) that person who always received a "but" attached with a compliment. Thankfully my parents never let me feel any less and I was able to survive teenage years without my self confidence shattered. However, somewhere at the back of my mind, I had accepted that I was not beautiful. I had many strengths and qualities but being 'beautiful' was not a privilege I acquired in my gene-pool. I was not that girl who was (is) 'desirable' by Indian standards. I didn't care enough to even consider changing myself, but I definitely never used the adjective beautiful to describe myself.

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hair: not black and thick enough
It was not until I went to college and had friends from around the world who complimented me on my hair, and skin tone that I realized that their version of beauty was not same as India. Suddenly my thin-brown-hair were beautiful, my wheatish-complexion was beautiful, the chutzpah in my personality was beautiful. While their compliments definitely made my day back then, but in long term they also broadened my mind enough, to accept myself. 

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not fair enough
It took me a decade to get here, but it started with some women building women up. I have learned two lessons from my experiences from college till today, one: that women have the power to change another woman's perspective through kind words and compliments, two: that beauty standards are transient. The exact characteristics which make me less than ideal in India, are the exact characteristics which are celebrated in the West. 

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not docile enough
Every woman can define her own beauty. We do not have to conform to any society's standards to consider ourselves beautiful. There cannot be a single mold for all women to exist with in. It is no surprise that 69% of women agree that they don’t see themselves reflected in advertisements, movies, television.

This is why Kylee Howell's story, from Dove Beauty Productions resonated with me. Its powerful message of non-conformity, self-assurance and shedding the narrow definitions of beauty spoke right to me. Directed by no other than Shonda Rhimes with an all-female crew, Dove is shifting the power of storytelling from Hollywood into the hands of real women via Kylee’s story. Check out the video here and see how she empowers others to find their real beauty.


I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


  1. Lovely post. Everyone has their own version of beauty and what 'beauty' truly means. Glad you overcame the stereotypes and saw your beauty :)

  2. I remember when I was in India, I saw a ton of commercials about skin brightening. In my eyes, you're pretty light for an Indian person. I live in the Bay Area and you're lighter than most Indians I see on a daily basis. But I do know from being in India (and from seeing similar commercials on Jamaican TV about skin bleaching) that being fair is equal to beauty to some people (same can be said about light skin black girls vs dark skin black girls in the media). So it's good to know what real beauty means to us without the ridiculous standards that countries put on us.


  3. Love what you wrote about real beauty. In fact, it's funny how various cultures all have different definitions of what they think is beauty. In my culture, getting sun-tanned wasn't attractive. But as we all know, in the US (and especially CA, where I grew up) everyone wants sun-kissed skin. I love how you have come to be comfortable in your own skin/body... and it's fantastic that your parents never made you feel anything less. Good for them :)

  4. The black community is the same way. Fair skin, long, "good" hair and light eyes are the beauty ideals. You don't see colorism as much in Canada, but the minute I set foot in the States? LAWD!

    Glad you wrote about this!! I see beauty in us all...

  5. I totally agree! I love that you said that women have the power to change another woman's perspective through kind words and compliments! We should spend time building each other up instead of being so critical on ourselves and others! You are stunning! Thanks for sharing this!

  6. I loved reading about your perception of beauty, it was so refreshing. And I think we can all learn something from this! We all need to be kinder to ourselves and others - that's where the true beauty lies!

    Jasmine / www.jasminekeclipse.com

  7. There are many different kinds of beauty. And I just want to say that I think you're very beautiful yourself. Stay awesome!

  8. That is so so true! You know how it is in India.

  9. Mt favorite part of your post is when you said that women have the power to uplift other women.This is very true and we need to find more ways to empower each other

  10. oh my Love your story! I love the woman empowerment! Thank you for the article it was a lovely read!

  11. I love empowering other women and never hesitate to let one know when they look superb. One time I complimented this lady walking beside my on the streets and she said she was headed to a job interview so my compliment boosted her confidence. Such a great feeling.

  12. First of all, you are beautiful! Always interesting to learn more about different beauty standards, although in France theres also this taste for long healthy natural hair ;) and light eyes. But you're right, let see beauty in us all.

  13. Guess what, you aren't alone in this beauty standard ranking! Being a Chinese or Asian, I get that too. Legs not long enough, eyes too wide apart, skin not perfect, it's until my bf helps tell me how I'm perfect in my own way!

  14. This makes me so sad, because you are SO beautiful! It just goes to show how culture can shape our definitions of beauty. When I was going through the phase of beauty awareness and noticing things like that, I lived in south florida where the culture was much more south america-influenced than what I was used to. So to me, beautiful was thin, tanned, shiny hair, and brown eyes. I was blonde, blue eyed, and had puberty hips LOL. So my self-esteem was SHOT! My friends looked like ACTUAL super models!! And it took me forever to let go of that idea of beauty and stop comparing myself to others.

  15. I loved reading about your recognition of beauty, it was so interesting. We have a different kind of beauty. Everyone has their own version of beauty and what 'beauty' truly means.


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