When I was growing up, I was not considered ‘pretty’ by the Chakma standard. I was not tall enough, not thin enough, my eyes were not big enough, my skin was not fair enough, my hair was not silky enough etc. By Bangladeshi standard I am probably too ‘exotic’ to be considered as pretty/beautiful anyway. I have been ridiculously insecure about my appearance for as long as I can remember.
In summer 2013, I was going to attend the UNAOC-EF Summer School to represent Bangladesh in the EF Tarrytown campus in New York. I had a brief virtual encounter with the delegate from Sri Lanka on Facebook before heading off to New York. After a bit of chitchat we discovered we had attended a common event in Nepal the previous year. We were both in Dhulikel to attend feminist training programs. In one of the evenings, the two training groups met for a solidarity night that comprised of a cultural program followed by dinner. The Sri Lankan delegate said she remembered me from that evening. I thought this was a bit strange given that there were so many people to remember from that night. I clearly did not remember her. I felt guilty about it, blamed it on my poor memory and apologized to her. When we met in New York later she asked me “Do you know why I remembered you from that night in Nepal?” I said “Was it because I was wearing the same costume as the other Chakma girl in your training group?” She said, “No, I thought you were very pretty.” Continue reading