Why are there not any beauty pageants which include kids with special needs? Why is there not a craze for disabled models? Why do we even categorise people with disabilities in such a way? Because disability or no disability, we are all humans and surely that is a beauty of it’s own.
I do not believe that the term ‘beauty’ can be defined but I do believe that society has created and implanted a false idea of what it is.
But what is beauty? What do you associate with being beautiful?
In June 2014, I started a volunteering programme in Marrakesh with ‘Original Volunteers’ and met the most astonishing little girl named Hanan, and she made me realise just how beautiful the world was.
Hanan was left at a baby orphanage by her parents who couldn’t cope with the challenges she bought, only a few days after she was born. Unfortunately this seemed to be a regular occurrence for children born in Morocco with both physical/metal disabilities and seeing first hand the physical and emotional damage being abandoned can cause, had really opened my eyes to how lucky I was to have loving parents and a roof over my head to call home.
Hanan was born with webbed hands and feet as well suffering from severe asthma. She also has liquid drowning her brain, causing an abnormal skull shape.
Whenever I came into the room where she played, her face would light up and she’d quickly hurry to sit on my knee.
She’d play with my hair and gaze into my eyes as if she had so much she wanted to say. I felt an overwhelming amount of guilt saying goodbye every time I left the hospital she was living at. I couldn’t help but feel useless and ever so lonely after saying goodbye. I felt as if I had become so attached to Hanan. I felt like a proud mother, so proud of everything she had achieved, how far she had progressed.
One of the girls volunteering with me had told me about Hanan prior to my visit to the hospital but I never imagined that I would feel so much compassion and warmth in her. She made me feel so hopeful. Hopeful of the future and also very humbled.
Though so young, I’m very blessed to have met such an inspirational and beautiful girl. She was a bundle of joy and her smile made my day, as did her laughter which was like a ray of sunshine. Her happiness bought me happiness. I thought she was beautiful. My idea of beauty.
But does beauty even exist in reality? Or are things beautiful only because we – the collective we – say they are?
It frustrates me that we live in a world where competition always seems to a take priority. We can talk about what is beautiful only because we can talk about what ‘ugly’ is. The problem with comparison is that it creates competition, and the problem with competition is there are winners and losers; and in the competition of beauty, it’s very much the same- there are winners and losers, whether we define our beauty perspectives naturally or socially or by a hybrid of the two.
I hope that one day I exist in a world where beauty isn’t just a mere term of the physical- that which meets the eye. But I think when most of us ‘feel’ most beautiful is when we’re confident, when were happy, when we’re doing something that is kind and compassionate and loving; something that doesn’t necessarily have to do with our appearance. After all, it’s not anyone else’s responsibility to make you feel beautiful, it’s yours, and despite all the social constructs, the media and all kinds of marketing, I think feeling beautiful comes down to believing that the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts; that you – ALL of you – is much greater than any imperfection that you may have. And surely that’s something beautiful we can all work on.
There is no truth, only perception.