A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

It raises its head again

Posted by Pepper on August 22, 2012

This is an angry post. I had to put my thoughts down here, just to get over them. I have an aunt who doesn’t think too highly of me. Most of the times, it is evident from the way she talks. Well, she is a nice person though. At the most, I’d call her silly.

The girls in my family are quite pretty. Except me. I think my sister is gorgeous. Okay, fine. I am biased. But it isn’t just me. We’ve had a lot of people praising her light brown eyes, dark brown hair and fair skin. I guess, that is their idea of ‘beauty’. I think she is gorgeous because she has the most dazzling smile. My first cousin (that would be my dad’s brother’s daughter) is also very beautiful. She receives compliments from all and sundry. That leaves just me. I look average to the extent of being blah.

Now this aunt of mine is always complimenting the sister. This usually makes me happy and proud. But these days, instead of praising her, she starts digging at me. I guess it is playful. But it annoys the hell out of me. She looked at the sister, and said “You are so pretty! I can keep looking at you. I feel so proud. Our family is known to produce beauties. All the girls are so beautiful. Look at S (my cousin), she too is gorgeous. It runs in the family” I just smiled. Perhaps they are good looking, but they aren’t as good looking as she makes them out to be. Never mind. Let her take pride in her genes.

And then, all of sudden she looked at me and said, “You don’t feel bad. So what if you are ugly. You already found a good husband”. HUH? WTF? She had said the same thing to me a while ago, and I had ignored it. And then this incident happened again. She told me the same thing. I raised my eye brow at her, wanting to give her a piece of my mind. But then I know I only stop at raising eye brows. I know I can’t speak up. Beside, she was laughing. So was this supposed to be funny?

She called me ugly, but that didn’t  bother me too much. She is entitled to her opinion. What I couldn’t get over was her underlying belief. We should be beautiful to fetch ourselves a good husband? That’s all? REALLY? It’s amazing, how almost every thought of ours contains hidden undertones of patriarchy. I feel like giving up.

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90 Responses to “It raises its head again”

  1. Visha said

    Too bad of the aunt to call anyone downright ugly. I had one of my in-laws comment on my skin colour once, which made me mad, but then there is no point in talking back since it is the mentality which makes them act like that.

    From what I have been observing since some time, the dashingly good looking ones are ending up with the average plain looking partners. This should make the older generation think that looks are not being ‘looked’ upon when choosing a life partner.

  2. Hie pepper, my first comment on your blog, have been reading your blog since few months..apsolutely love you, feel like you have became my friend now 🙂
    just wanted to share with you that my younger sister is also very beautiful with grey-blue eyes, light brown hair, perfect body.. infact our relatives and all call her mini karishma kapoor.. being her elder sis and being so close to her I never feel jealous of her looks.. I love her like my own kid.. but my Bua… my Bua is also same like your aunt..keeps taunting & keeps comparing..
    now that I have got married and moved to sydney, she keeps saying ohh!! your sis will be able to find the husband of her dreams and her MIL will treat her like a queen and all that… I will be the most happiest person if this happens and will pray to God to fulfill my Bua’s wish BUT BUT BUT why do they have to compare outer beauty of all girls (sisters) in the family????????????
    Sorry for the lonngg comment 🙂

    • Pepper said

      Hey there, so good to meet you! You said it. We tend to love our little sisters like our babies. So easy to take pride in them. But the rest can’t stop their blatant comparisons. It can get nasty.

  3. Deeps said

    I would actually describe HER fleeting remarks as ‘blah blah blah’! No offence to your aunt, Pepper, but that is the reaction people like such deserve.

    You are happy, you are beautiful you are a lovely person in your own way 🙂 To hell with those who say otherwise!

    Take care 🙂

  4. Smita said

    It is so infuriating. You know u r not giving it back out of respect but is she giving u respect in return? She might be saying all this in a jest but after there is a limit to everything.

    Tell you what, next time she says all this just tell her, you take on her! Finish!

    Beauty is such an over rated thing I tell you!

    • Pepper said

      She isn’t respecting me. I know. But I wonder if she even realises what she says. Like I said, she is quite a silly person. Maybe even stupid. But I haven’t known her to be malicious. Which makes it harder for me to answer her back. 😦

  5. ashreyamom said

    such things irritate me too.. that too when i see matrimonial sites , where men ask for tall fair, educated,rich family etc etc.. not all girls are same, each vary and have different plus and minus.. i would be so tempted to reply back, look at your self first..
    i face it when ever i wear saree, people keep saying you are so thin, dont wear it.. i cant see it.. i just reply saying, dont look at me if it bothers you.
    sick ppl are there everywhere..

    • Pepper said

      I tend to look too thin in a sari too. But I always thought, it was because the saris are too huge. They are the ‘one size fits all’ kinda thing. Which unfortunately doesn’t work for me. As a result, I look funny with layers of folded fabric bulging in front of my tummy. Sometimes they say 24 is an ideal size for a waist, but at the same time, that is a size that is hardest to live with, cos nothing fits. Next time I plan to cut my saris, so that they fit better. Maybe you should do it too. And for people who talk, we really need to ask them to shut up!

  6. R's Mom said

    Are you bloody kidding me? you are NOT beautiful?????…puhleaze!!! okie, I know this post is not about your beauty or not..but I think you are goregous (Just wondering how much more gorgeous can your sister be?)

    But, but like you, I am still wondering whats it got to do with you finding a husband..wondering and still wondering!!!

    • Pepper said

      Shukriya RM! I may not be beautiful, but I do know I am not ugly. Anyway, that is subjective.
      Well, stop wondering then. The prettier you are, the higher the chances of you finding a good husband. That is the one and only reason we should strive for beauty. *Rolls eyes*

  7. Arch said

    Pepper, I get this all the time. I look prettier in pictures than in person. Chandler got it all wrong because cameras reduce pounds for me. Every time I visit home ( or even friends here after a month or so), folks go on to say how my facebook pictures are deceptive. My mum’s cousin sis actually compares me with a chameleon every time she meets me. Then my kicking moment comes when they say, guys will easily fall for my matrimonial pics. Chi, so much for prettiness.

  8. I don’t really know what to say 😦 Gah !!!!

  9. […] have been ignoring this topic from a long time. But, Pepper’s post forced me to give my thoughts a vent so that I could be at peace, once for […]

  10. I don’t think this is as much an Indian phenomenon as it is an Asian phenomenon. Where there is so much of importance placed on aesthetics, and…beauty…and the external value of things. We need a wake up call. And a massive of paradigm shift. Not sure when both of these are going to happen.

    Love, Miffalicious. [www.miffalicious.com]

  11. “I look average to the extent of being blah.” .. What is BLAH.. i cud not find the meaning in the dictionary also 🙂

    I better not say anything , for I am sure to make a lot of people RAISE eyebrows.. You shud have told her something and given your piece of mind, else she will say it again some day

  12. metherebel said

    You find people everywhere who think that being pretty is necessary to get you a good husband. By pretty they mostly mean being fair. Fair complexion is their yardstick for prettiness.

    However most of the times this is restricted just for girls. If a girl says rejects a guy saying he isn’t good or whatever, the same people will preach you how looks are not so important. Funny is it?

    I refuse to believe that you are average looking 🙂 Some wise man/ woman said “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”.

  13. Ti said

    It is very true.. Everybody seems to put men at the center and women on the side track. Lol!!! I sometimes can only feel pity for people who think this way. There was a msg i read by a man.. “a man who makes a cup of tea for the wife whos is back home late after a long at work is seen as a great husband, a man who is willing to stay home to support his wife’s career is seen as the best husband, but why when a woman has to do the same they think they are living in a male dominated society??? ”
    Arghh, are they even remotely similar??? Funny isn’t it? This comment is not related to your post, but just wanted to share how much some men hate women being independent.
    I am sure things will change. With the kind of understanding men around us, it definitely looks promising.

    • Pepper said

      A man who lifts a finger for his wife is known as her slave. A woman who refuses to bend backwards for some reason is considered dominating. Those are the ways of this world. But yes, I would say a lot of men around as treat us as equals. We do hope things change, at some point.

  14. Aruna said

    Firstly, from what little I can tell from the pics, you are not ugly. Why, you have such pretty eyes! And you are so slim for god’s sake…how many people are blessed that way?
    I’m not at all surprised that a family member said that though…it is unfortunate, but that’s how it is.

  15. Unbelievable! Forget patriarchal conditioning, that is downright mean and offensive.

    I sooo wish you(somebody) had given back!

  16. DI said

    You should have laughed at her. Rolled pretty much. That beats saying anything. Seriously. Make a joke out of a person, and they shut up. Some guts! Good humor or not, it is not very ok to be so blatantly rude.

  17. mamta said

    Pepper, I do understand your agony, but what I personally feel is you should let your aunt know that you are not in favour of her comments and make her feel realise you are very angry at her blah blah in some or the other way, your way of keeping quite in encouraging her more to taunt you, it is purely of jealous she wants to point out of there is something less in us.
    May be she knows you are very smart and talented and got a very loving husband………..
    Pepper let me explain my version I am right now 42 yrs with two wonderful daughters. I have two sisters fair talented outgoing while I was growing one of my aunt always used to say, since I was little darker side I have to rub my face with brick to get fair skin. I still remember that day in my innocence I did that, each time she came to my house she used to say to my mom Oh, you have to hide your other daughter when people come to see yr elder child for marriage proposal these all things still ring in my mind. Luckily I got married to much fair skin more talented person and he loves me immensely. Even now when we happen to cross our paths she just wants to talk something negative ………… but one time I let her know I am not happy with her talk and made her shut mouth. Now that I am far away I don’t meet her often. I know when we are in India we do come across some silly characters, its hard to ignore there talk always sometime it do effect us, I personally feel you should put a lock to her mouth in some tactful manner.

    • Pepper said

      She is jealous of me? I never thought of that, though that seems totally unlikely. She is much older, in a totally different phase of life. She is 69. It’s very hard to back answer people of that age. And I don’t know how to do it tactfully. 😦

      I am sorry you had to hear so much. These remarks continue stinging us for life. Glad though, you asked your aunt to mind her own business.

  18. Amrita said

    Dear Pepper,
    I can’t tell how many times I’ve been at the receiving end of such ‘jokes’ and ‘all in good humour’ comments. I am brown skinned and my sister is fair – enough said. Family and friends have even had digs at me saying that I shouldn’t over qualify lest I not get married!
    Initially it used to make me go aaaaaargggh!! But now I think they have way too much time on their hands!

    Keep smiling!

  19. Titaxy said

    Hugs, Pepper… many many hugs. I’ve heard these remarks about the beauty and husband correlation and it only riles me up. I don;t know what to say…many hugs!

  20. Deepa said

    I have an aunt who would take my hand and place it next to my kid brother’s hand when he was a baby and say, look your hands are soo dark while his are soo fair. I used to feel really bad, but, as I grew up I only laughed at her ignorance. We live in a society which defines a fair complexion as beautiful, nothing else!

    Deepa

    • Pepper said

      Oh my, that is a horrid thing to do. Especially when it is done to a child, who hasn’t matured enough to realise how ridiculous such thoughts are.

  21. Some people are so sick in their heads – Ugh !

    • Pepper said

      😦

      • I’ve restrained sharing my suggestions, thinking you’ll certainly find your own way to deal with it, but you know what? Lemme go ahead and tell you anyway.

        1. Every time she visits, wish her normally and get out of the house for some fresh air – Not only will you escape her pointless negative comments,but instead you’ll gain positive vibes from a trip to anywhere outside.

        2. The next time she says anything spiteful, give her a big hug and say, “That’s why I love you sooooo much, because you say the sweetest things about me that no one ever does;) ” Never let her guess whether u mean it or not LoL !!

        Also, have nominated you for the Capture the Colors contest. Here are the details – http://www.travelsupermarket.com/c/holidays/capture-the-colour/
        I hope you’ll enjoy participating as much as I did.

        • Pepper said

          Thanks for telling me. You know? I LOVE your suggestions. Especially the 2nd one. Also, it’s cos something I think I can do, as compared to telling her off directly.

          Thanks. This looks like fun. Will try and do it soon, though I am not a good photographer by any means. 🙂

  22. I’ve always been at the receiving end too! My sister is fair-skinned and I’m not. And I tan quickly too.

    But you should’ve said something!!

    • Pepper said

      I should’ve. But like I keep saying, I really don’t know how to speak up politely. I either react violently, or I shut up. I need to learn to be balanced.

  23. sigh! I really don’t know what to say. Some women are too crazy to sit and talk with. At moments like this I wish I had a silencer in my ears 😛

    Ps: Oh yeah you are blah looking eh? woman your eyes can cause unrest among a crowd…you know that?? 😉

  24. Shengi said

    sigh* It’s ridiculous how narrow minded they can be =/

  25. Nitya said

    I am sorry, I am unable to get past the ugly comment. The feminist in me is roused bout the whole husband deal too but this is an awful thing to say. Obviously being older doesnt mean being wiser.

    You are beautiful. Am not just talking about the outside, but the whole YOU you. Even if I hadnt met you, your warmth, your spirit just shines through in your posts and dazzles me sometimes.

    As far as the husband bit is concerned, I am not surprised. After all, in the great Indian society, that is the be all, end all as far as women are concerned. Pah. No hope.

    Love
    Nitya

    • Pepper said

      Nuttie, you are very kind. Thank you!
      That’s the thing though. Most of the times, inner beauty, however magnificent, is never really considered to be beauty. Our world is too used to associating beauty with a pretty face.

  26. laugh it off…:)..from whatever i can see from the picture above you appear quite good looking!! i am first timer here from My Era;s blog…:)..Aunty ko ignore kar do….!! No one has ever said any such thing directly to me…but all my cousins including my real sister are beautiful!! fair. typical pahari good looking girls..except me..but theek hai…such aunts to be totally ignored!!…cheers…

  27. What the heck is wrong with that aunt???!

    Why the ‘ugly’ word?!!

    Been a fan of your stunning eyes..and such an awesome smile..a little shy and yet a lot bold.

    Aunt needs a serious session at the eye clinic-up is what I think. Hmmph!

    As for the Patriarchy – why wasn’t I surprised on her mention of ‘good husband’..well may be because we are all used to hearing that phrase over and over again by ancient minded aunts like these?

    Don’t give up..just try harder to not stay silent when she comes up with nasty remarks like these in future. Speak up..and paint it with laughter too, if that’s how she gives it.

    • Pepper said

      Thanks AHK!
      I know I should stop being surprised and angry too. But what to do? The anger comes rushing back each time I hear such statements. In a way, I think I am glad. I don’t want to stop feeling. Emotions are good for me. Or else, maybe I’d turn too indifferent and more passive than what I already am.

  28. What a psycho your aunt is! I am sorry if you got offended that I called her a psycho, but this is really too much!! WTF! Whether in joking or seriously it is absolutely not done she puts you down like this. I do hope you speak up peppy. Just tell her that the main problem with this world today that everything has become superficial. Looks, beauty, behaviour, our treatment of each other. It is high time we stopped judging the person by all these superficial qualities.

  29. kashlife said

    My first comment in this blog.

    It is unfortunate physical look is always under judgement and comparison. My mother still remembers when I was born the first thing my granny told was “Oh it’s girl and she is dark”.

  30. I have gone through similar situation. Fair is beautiful for some people and they say it on your face. I have learnt to laugh at them and ignore.

  31. Deep said

    Hi Pepper, 🙂

    Always wanted to comment on your posts – would leave it for another day, and then another post would appear, rinse repeat :).
    This time I’ll comment right away.

    This incident reminded me of a roommate I once had. She believed she was totally pretty and had to struggle to fend off suitors. Fair enough – I nodded along sympathetically to her stories. The she tells me, “your features are so ordinary and commonplace – you’ll never stand out in a crowd”. This coming from a PhD, modern, post-feminist era girl living independently abroad disgusted me. More than the criticism of my looks (I’ve been complimented enough by people I care about, so I wasn’t exactly looking for her approval), the fact that she didn’t think twice about making such negative comments turned me off. So, I guess such characters exist everywhere, and in all ages!

    I forgot about the incident; until years later, chatting with the husband, this incident came up. The husband, who is the gentlest soul I know, grew red and replied – if I ever meet her, I’d like to punch her. After getting over the initial shock (of hearing such a phrase coming from him) needless to say, I find that incident very memorable!

    And oh well, about the patriarchal tone of your aunt’s comment, I’m willing to bet she also believes in more backward aspects of patriarchy like get-married-stay-married, subservient wives and DILs, and the whole bullshit. I don’t really know an effective way to counter such people or convince them otherwise, so most things they say just go out through the other ear :).

    Hope you guessed who I’m, else will inform you when I chat with you next 🙂

    • Pepper said

      Hey, thanks for commenting! Lol, I guess I post too often and a lot of people can’t cope 🙂

      If I did guess right, I am shocked to know somebody had the audacity to tell you you are ordinary looking. I do remember telling you I think you look lovely. I meant it. I wonder how people define beauty.

      You are right about my aunt. She does believe in all other aspects of patriarchy. She refuses to let me spend a penny on her, because I am married, and I shouldn’t be spending money on my parents’ family. 😐 Oh never mind.

  32. techie2mom said

    i can relate to your feelings big time….

    And this whole attitude that girls have to look beautiful to get a good husband, irks me to no end. What a girl does, how she looks like, where she goes, what she does is something the whole world will keep monitoring. What a person does or looks like is her/his personal thing, why should somebody bother? Please, please next time tell your aunt to mind her own business (laughingly 😉 )

    i remember reading an article on R’s mom’s blog about how people go crazy about fairness and that made me so angry that i too did a post on similar lines, about how even little girls are worried about their looks and figure, even their dolls promote certain kind of look!!!

    And, from the pics on your blog, i find you good-looking and you have beautiful eyes 🙂

    • Pepper said

      And it isn’t like only like girls have to look beautiful to get a good husband. It’s more like, what else is the purpose of beauty? It is only to get a husband. That’s it. There is no other meaning to it.

      Thanks 🙂

  33. chandni said

    I am sorry pepper but here I am mad at you. Aunt or elder or whatever, she was rude. And to the point that one doesnt say such things to strangers even…I wish you’d given her a piece of your mind. Or at least replied sarcastically about beauty being inside or something. No one has a right to say such crap and get away with it.

    Stoopid woman.

  34. smartassbride said

    i have coupons for eye check up from dad’s eye surgery last jan. plz send me auntie dear’s address. will mail her.

  35. Ashwathy said

    Pah! I should have been there!! Nobody says that to my soul-sistah and gets away with it! Pfft! 😡

    I don’t know whether to laugh or to do facepalm 😛
    She called YOU ugly?!! First of all get her eyesight checked…. if I were there, I’d have offered her the money for the doc’s visit. So that she can stop drawing assumptions of her own and leave people alone 🙄

    Secondly, she falls into the category of people who believes beauty brings “good” husbands…and being married is THE important thing in a girl’s life. Such people don’t have much IQ and belong to a different world altogether. Reasoning with them is next to impossible. However telling them off is not a bad option, and like many others suggested, it would be wise to put her in place – jst once – without being rude to her face. And if she takes it that you are rude, then sorry can’t help it.

    Honestly speaking, how does it even matter? To be proud of your sis and cousin sis for being beautiful…ok whatever…to each his/her own. But to berate you because SHE feels you don’t fall into that bracket? 😯 WTF! 😐

    I keep telling you (*adopts stern mommy tone*) that you SHOULD start speaking up!

  36. Gayatri said

    I would like to punch this aunt. Please. And hello again 🙂

  37. pixie said

    Oh babes!! hugs!
    You are gorgeous!! You have the most beautiful eyes – so very expressive and your smile is absolutely dazzling!!
    You are beautiful because you have a good heart – you are a kind person.

    Just tell her off the next time she calls you ugly! Gah!

    I have heard the husband thing many times… you know how K is light skinned – so, a relative had asked very seriously – how did he fall in love with you? You are so average looking and your skin is dark!
    heh!
    I had smiled and told her she wouldnt understand… because love and beauty are much more than skin colour!

  38. stuti said

    Too bad. It can be frsutrating to be nagged by relatives and especially sneaky aunts (not calling you aunt sneaky, though).

  39. Geetha said

    Ask your Aunt to get her eyes checked. Recommend a good optometrist and say you will get a good discount since its my acquaintance store and laugh it away(the next time she give her unsolicited comments). Some people in the family might have a hard time digesting the fact that you have everything going for you 🙂

    • Pepper said

      That seems to be the popular opinion, asking her to get her eyes checked. I am amused.
      Yes, that is true, but I see absolutely no reason for her to be jealous of me. She really isn’t malicious. She is generous, helpful and good, however hard that is to believe. I agree, she is a little crazy and stupid, though.

  40. Tatsat said

    Well atleast she thinks you have a good husband, if you care so much about her opinion that is.
    But I really do not know if people who compliment us explicitly are the ones who really know us. I mean my mother would never say that I have a good body or that I am smart- or anything of that sort. Nor would my brother say anything like that. It is only those “passers by” who look out on these surfacial traits.
    Plus beauty is really a tricky concept. People call Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone beautiful, while might have a single digit IQ 😀
    So, I would say that you are smart. Your posts are amazing. And there is just so much that we guys could learn from you. Really !
    Take well care of yourself Ma’m 🙂

    • Pepper said

      I don’t care about her opinion, of course. I care about the unkind way in which she put across her thoughts. I am disturbed rather.
      And thank you Sir. The your comment made my day! 😀

  41. Tanishka said

    She really thinks you are not beautiful!!! She really needs to get her eyes checked… Anyways that’s besides the point…
    Its soo sad that even now the only thing which is given importance is looks and appearance… I pity your aunt and others who think like her….

    • Pepper said

      Yes. But that’s not all that bothers me. Looks and appearance are the only thing that are given importance. That is sad. What I think is more sad is somebody thinking thinking the only purpose of beauty is to attract a good mate. That is the one and all. What about feeling beautiful for your own self?

  42. Jack Point said

    What an unkind remark. Quite shocking.

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