Your Weekly Digest on What Muslim Women Are Talking About

Letters to My Daughter

by in Identity on 17th May, 2018

“you

see your face.

you

see a flaw.

how. if you are the only one who has this face.”

Nayyirah Waheed

‘Beautiful’ is a word that your ears will hear from the moment of your birth and onwards. It is a word that society will try to teach you to love, to desire and even crave. But be careful about what kind of ‘beautiful’ you seek to become.

You have been born into a world perceived by most through a screen of some sort.

Almost everything has been brightened, blurred, edited, filtered and squeezed or stretched (or if we are talking about an Instagram ‘influencer’s photos, probably both, in different places). There has perhaps never been as much emphasis as there is now on a woman’s physical appearance, because flashing billboards, and adverts, and 4 by 4 grids, and profile photos surround you. You will see women (and men) with fake bodies, fake nails, hair, eyes, skin, eyelashes and much more all around you, and as if that isn’t enough, you will see images that cast multiple layers of artificial over them. If you ever find yourself comparing yourself to them, know that this kind of ‘beautiful’ is not real. When the contact lenses are removed, when the eyelash extensions begin to fall out, when the implants start to sag or even simply when the makeup wipe removes the carefully brushed and blended mask, you realise it never even existed in the first place.

Deception is not ‘beautiful’ and never can be.A little of bit of grooming and enhancement of your natural beauty is one thing, but if your features start to change and you find yourself more concerned with what is on your skin than what is in your heart, it is time for some change.

Growing up too soon, the art of Deception

Kylie Jenner made millions from developing a line of lipsticks designed to give women the look she only achieved by having surgical lip implant procedures. Thousands of Instagrammers, regular people as well as celebrities use special apps to quickly expand their backsides and pinch their waists before clicking ‘share’ with the world. As tools and techniques to make you ‘beautiful’ advance year upon year, please know that the single largest threat to the unhealthy and unethical multi-billion pound beauty industry is a woman who is content with herself. A woman who isn’t concerned about keeping up with the Kardashians, nor with resembling every other primed, painted, pretending-to-be-secure female around her.

The sinister realities behind the brands and adverts feed off of public insecurity and have resulted in increasing mental health issues, in girls as young as primary school age.

Learn to look beyond the Snapchat filters and latest beauty crazes, and find what is real, and when you find it, never let go. There may be some days when you wobble when you feel vulnerable and not ‘beautiful’, but on those days, remind yourself that beauty is a light in the heart, not a streak of sparkle from a highlighter on your face. I want you to imagine that you could see your character in the mirror rather than your face. Would you move your head slowly to the side to admire it from all angles? Or would you be repulsed, frightened even?

Would it be your kindness, courage, and warmth looking back at you? Or would it be envy, hatred, and arrogance? If everyone spent more time and money contouring their character than they do their cheekbones and nurturing compassion and intelligent thought than on the latest eyelash/butt lifting trend, I guarantee the world would be a much nicer place to be.

Celebrate your body for its strength

Make sure your heart is on fleek before your eyebrows are. All too often, these ‘beautiful’ people are actually very ugly when we get even slightly beyond skin deep, not to mention unhappy, discontent and seeking something that they may not yet understand. Know that your body and mind have more power than you could ever imagine, and it goes far beyond who you impress with your aesthetics. How can you feel or say anything negative about your legs?

Those legs carry you across the earth, they allow you to walk, to run, to skip and to dance. How can you complain about your eyes, through which the world and its wonders are perceived?

And one day, when you have your own daughters, know never to be negative about any lingering tummy bulges, for every inch of fat is a testament to the greatest miracle any human being can carry out – nourishing and bringing about another life. Remember that God looks not at your face but at your heart. Direct your energy towards cultivating a beautiful soul and mind, for there is a beauty that does not diminish, nor fall out, sag or get wiped away.

Before you turn to trashy sites, popular culture and those plagued with the disease of neglecting inner beauty for the outer,

find companionship in the stars, the trees and the mountains, for it is these that will remind you of your creator, and who you are and ultimately who you need to be.

Cast your eye away from the glitter

Turn your focus away from what others think of your appearance and towards what you can contribute to the world. Forget that mascara that broke the internet and work out how you can cure cancer or bring about world peace. Spend less time painting your face and paint a canvas instead, spend less money at MAC and more at bookshops. Make your topics of conversation meaningful, less lipstick and more altruism. You need fierceness in your care for others more than you need foundation. Covet intellectual pursuit and stimulation. Don’t do it for the Gram, do it for your Akhirah (afterlife). Although it may seem like you are different, know that by doing so, you will inspire others, empower them to break free from the shackles society has cast over them.

Find beauty in your individuality, appreciate the parts of you that make you different to everyone else, rather than seeking sameness. There is a reason God gave you your appearance, and the right people at the right time will appreciate it. But ultimately, know that you are so, SO much more than your body. You are a soul, that temporarily possesses a body. And that is beautiful.

Hiba Khan

Hiba Khan

Hiba is an Oxford graduate Physicist/Engineer by academic background and an author by soul. Her first commissioned children's book was published in 2019 by Penguin RandomHouse, and she is working on her first novel. Also a freelance journalist, she has written for The Independent and blogged for HuffPost, alongside having worked as a Physics teacher and Refugee Advocate at The Children's Society. Founder of global ethical brand Kusafiri, you will find her either traveling the world or saving money to travel the world. She loves quantum Physics, planting things and painting in watercolours. She especially loves sweetshops and good grammar.