I feel so honoured to be a part of We Are Hairy People’s beautiful campaign, Declare Imperfection. It is a campaign to fight against the unrealistic expectations that the society imposes on us all on how beauty should look. That the more we change ourselves to fit that ‘mould’, the closer we get to be accepted and welcomed into this nonexistent world of their definition of beauty. But the truth is, beauty has no mould.
I was born and raised in a country where the society says it’s shameful to have tanned skin. Growing up I was always the subject to be made fun of because of my tanned skin. Girls made fun of me, and boys called me ugly. After being told that for so many years, I really did believe I was ugly and that I needed lighter skin colour in order to be liked by my girl friends and to be fancied by boys. Every morning and night, I would apply skin whitening lotion all over my body and with every application, I’m desperately hoping that my skin will soon be lightened by this magical lotion. That never happened. And it certainly didn’t help that I’ve always been athletic and I loved sports. I would swim (out in the sun) 3 hours a day, 6 days a week in hopes of becoming a professional swimming athlete. But that made me more tan than anything. Eventually, at age 15 and with no more self confidence left, I quit the swim team and gave up my dreams in order to stay out of the sun and stay ‘lighter’. Years from then, my skin never became light (of course! That’s how my skin naturally looks!) and people never stopped picking on me for it. That was when I realised that I had given up something important to me to please a bunch of strangers that don’t love me or deserve my respect anyway? I felt foolish. From then on, I never gave up anything else for anyone else just because they made fun of me.
Now at age 25, I am in a stable, loving relationship (7 years!), I have my friends and family who love and respect me, and I have my blog and my brand in which I show myself and my ‘tanned’ skin everywhere! I have learnt to completely embrace myself and am no longer ashamed of who I am and how I look. If you stop listening to others and start accepting yourself, your confidence will out shine anything anyone has to say. I don’t need no skin bleaching agents, I’m me, and I love it!
T-Shirts: We Are Hairy People
Photography by Tom Shigeru Stannard (@tomshigeru)