Saturday, September 29, 2012
When Ohio resident and baptized Sikh Balpreet Kaur found a photo of herself (taken without her knowledge) standing in line at the Ohio State University bookstore on Reddit, she wasn't fazed, not even when comments from the Reddit users started pouring in, mocking her facial hair, gender, outfit, and decision not to shave her facial hair.As Joanna Piacenza at Religion Dispatches points out, it all started with the aptly-titled Reddit user "european_douchebag." He eventually apologized.
As a baptized Sikh, Kaur is forbidden to alter her body, because it is considered a gift from God. When a friend told her about the Reddit thread, Kaur decided to address the issue herself and took to the thread. Here's what she had to say:
"Hey, guys. This is Balpreet Kaur, the girl from the picture," she wrote. "I'm not embarrassed or even humiliated by the attention [negative and positive] that this picture is getting, because it's who I am. The overarching principal is this body is a tool for service," she explained. "We have to maintain and take care of it while cherishing its original form."
I have to admit that when I first saw the picture my cultural bias kicked in and I wondered how a woman could so flaunt the norm of expected femininity. But this struck me right between the eyes:
When I die, no one is going to remember what I looked like, heck, my kids will forget my voice, and slowly, all physical memory will fade away. However, my impact and legacy will remain: and, 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.I have pictures of my late wife to remind me how she looked ... but in the end the chemotherapy took away her hair, against the feminine stereotype ... but her voice? Do I remember even now after just a couple of years?
But there were the people she affected ... children who will grow up with the memory and results of her virtues. That too will fade ... but not without leaving a mark.
Balpreet Kaur has already left a mark.
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