Almost every day, I read a story that inspires or uplifts me in some way. Some days, the story strikes a chord so deeply that it resonates long after the initial reading.
This is Balpreet Kaur, a student at Ohio State University. This photo of her was taken without her permission and posted it to the “funny” section of Reddit, along with the comment, “I don’t know what to conclude from this.” One assumes he was remarking on the combination of dark facial hair on an obviously female body.
As happens in these situations, the cruelty pile-on began, and the photo was passed around the social networks with all sorts of unpleasant commentary about the woman’s dark facial hair, her casual clothes, her glasses–everything about her was picked apart. When a friend saw the photo and told her about it, Balpreet Kaur took action in a very powerful way. She went to the source.
“Hey, guys. This is Balpreet Kaur, the girl from the picture. I actually didn’t know about this until one of my friends told on facebook. If the OP wanted a picture, they could have just asked and I could have smiled However, I’m not embarrased or even humiliated by the attention [negative and positve] that this picture is getting because, it’s who I am.”
She goes on to explain that her decision to not remove her facial hair is part of her Sikh faith, that the body is a sacred instrument and to alter it would be a rejection of the gift she’d been given.
“[By] not focusing on the physical beauty, I have time to cultivate those inner virtues and hopefully, focus my life on creating change and progress for this world in any way I can. So, to me, my face isn’t important but the smile and the happiness that lie behind the face are.”
Wow. WOW. How did someone so young become so smart? (You can read her entire response on Reddit, but judging from the second photo, via Twitter, I’d say the smile makes an excellent argument for her point.)
Many of us (and by that I mean ME) might have posted a scathing reply. One was certainly deserved. Or we might have felt shamed and turned to food or alcohol or the solace of a darkened room (or all of the above) and tried to forget it ever happened. By taking the high road and dealing with the problem directly, Balpreet Kaur demonstrated grace and dignity and reminded (or taught) more than a few people a lesson in self worth. (Apparently, the original poster contacted her and apologized. Profusely.)
But I share all of this to focus on one basic truth: We should love ourselves as we are RIGHT NOW. Our value to the planet is in our spirit and our actions; not the outside. What might we accomplish if we pushed all the ads and ab articles aside and focused on changing the world, even in small ways?