Self Improve or Self Accept?
Sikh woman, Balpreet Kaur, taunted for her looks. Photo: Reddit
We live in a world of choice. Right at our fingers, we have access to change and if we wish to change our appearance, we not only have the support systems that will grant us the opportunity to become who we physically wish to be — we also have the promise that we are not alone in our desire to self improve. Whether we want a face lift or a gender reassignment, we are fortunate enough to live in times where our dreams of “upgrading” can come true.
What causes someone to desire change is completely personal. The decision to improve upon one’s appearance may stem from one of several ideas, but the most common reasons range from wanting to fit in, to wanting to feel comfortable in one’s own skin.
Images of beauty are coveted things — we want to be part of that club, we can’t help it. And if the yearning is great enough, we conform to our needs, and for the sake of knowing what it’s like to self-improve, we change ourselves for the better.
Unless of course, we take the other road — the road of self-acceptance. As mentioned earlier this is a world of choice. We can change our appearance or we can revel in what we have, no matter what we have. Both choices are made out of self respect, and both choices lead to a greater sense of self esteem.
When I read this article on Yahoo’s Women Who Shine, “Sikh Woman Balpreet Kaur Turns Cyber Bullying Incident into Inspiration” I realized just how important choice is — for both sides of the argument: To self improve or to self accept, that is the question.
The photo was taken apparently without Kaur’s knowledge while she was waiting in line at the Ohio State University Library. In the photo, Kaur’s hair is hidden by a large, black turban. She’s wearing a T-shirt and yoga pants, glasses, and is looking down at her cell phone; her sparse facial hair is clearly visible. A Reddit user posted it to the “Funny” forum with the quip, “I’m not sure what to conclude from this.”
Comments started pouring in, making fun of her appearance, asking if she was transgendered, and taking her to task for not plucking, waxing, or shaving.
“Hey, guys. This is Balpreet Kaur, the girl from the picture,” she wrote. “I’m not embarrassed or even humiliated by the attention [negative and positive] that this picture is getting, because it’s who I am.”
As a baptized Sikh woman, Kaur—who is from Ohio—said that she is forbidden from altering her body, as it is considered a sacred gift from God.
“The overarching principal is this body is a tool for service,” she explained. “We have to maintain and take care of it while cherishing its original form.” That means that going to the hospital and taking medicine is fine, because one should be healthy in order to be of service to others. But cutting one’s hair or removing one’s facial hair is forbidden, even if societal norms dictate otherwise.
“My hair doesn’t stop me from being normal or doing service so its not a hindrance,” she said in a later post. “I’ve been to the doctor regarding this and it’s just a side effect of my hormone levels during my teenage years. The hormones have returned to normal, but the hair is still there. That’s fine I don’t regret anything, nor do I view it as an unfortunate thing.”
Kaur’s example of self acceptance in the face of bullying teaches us much about tolerance. Not only for others, but for ourselves.
Read more on Women Who Shine.