Beautiful! The word rings beautifully when I say it. We all want to be beautiful, good looking, presentable, etc. It’s a universal feeling right? More than looking beautiful , we want to feel beautiful; maybe it develops a confidence mentally.
My grand mom has this worn-out photo album. There are a lot of photos from when she was a kid, from when my grandpa was a kid, from when her siblings were kids, from when… you get the drift, kiddy photos. There is one photo in there in which a girl stands with a mirror showing her beautifully plaited, flowered hair. I do not remember who it was, but the photo kind of stayed in my mind.
It was a usual photo in the 1950s (it was a ‘decorating the girl to show to the boy’ photo, you know for getting her “married off”). The girl will be smiling shyly and of course there are no effects or tweaks (black and white, film-developed, really old photo people). She seemed very happy to have her photo taken. Not duck face, fish face or pouting or winking (God! The pout! or as I call it, the fish face. Why? Why do women ruin their facial beauty by compressing their cheeks like its being vacuumed through their mouth). I remember my brother exclaiming “She’s ugly” when we were looking at the album in the 90s. My grandma would say “Well! She was the most beautiful girl in her village then”.
Obviously cameras did not capture much back then. But one thing about what my grandmother said intrigued me. “She was the most beautiful girl in her village”. She was not a beauty freak, she never obsessed about her beauty, and her span of popularity was for a few years and she did not have to keep up her appearance “forever”.
You see where I am going with this? Well! Let us see if you guessed it right. The standards for beauty have always been partial to women. They are judged and reprimanded for every choice they make. Now! this is not specific to geography. Women everywhere are judged and made to do atrocious things to keep up their beauty or what is considered beautiful.
We’ve had corsets, small shoes, huge rings, heavy jewelry, heavy clothing, and even a lot of piercings. I have heard dialogues in sitcoms and movies like “I induced diarrhea to lose weight; anything to lose weight babe” “these heels are killing me; but I’d rather die stylish” (I can’t even write about the dialogues in Korean dramas; they talk about plastic surgery like it’s a supermarket errand).
Now! why is there no dialogues like these for men? I mean in every species, even primates, the male attracts the female. Why then should the women wax, thread, bleach, polish, moisturize, nourish, hydrate, scrub, tone, color, blush, cream, steam, and photograph it alllll? (I am sure the men are like tuning out or googling the hell out of these terms).
I have a friend who is a fanatic trend follower. I mean she started wearing leggings in 2010s (they became popular form 2011; google it people and let me know if I am wrong). She started to wear palazzo pants in 2015 (or like how some people say/write “plazo” pants). She calls herself “the trend setter” and is obsessed with keeping up with the trend. Now! her greatest fear in her life is “repeating herself” (no! not words people! Repeating her dress, bag, shoes…I sit in an AC-laden environment and I can wear the same clothes, like uniform, daily. But god forbid if people see me wearing the same kurta, twice!!!!). Imagine her shock when her and I wore the same kurta once during college!! She was shocked. No! no! she was shell shocked (I think she had a panic attack; I am not sure though).
Now look! I dress well! But I most definitely was not up to her “trend standard”. So she went back home that day. Yup! You read it right. She went and faked a fever and went back home (the woman missed fluid mechanics lab people! Fluid mechanics is when hot mechanical engineering guys teach us, well, fluid mechanics; they are hot, people! Hot!). You can imagine my shock! So what if we wore the same kurta? Can you imagine men behaving the same way? They wouldn’t even care. So why should a woman? A kurta is just a kurta (but I have a feeling she probably burnt the kurta; me? I still have it).
I wonder, are we working ourselves too much to the point of heavy mental drain and anxiety just for sake of looking presentable? Aren’t we beautiful how ever we are? Fretting too much on beauty and comparing the hell out of others will only cause heartache and headache. Being beautiful is nice, but that should not be the crux of your life. Be presentable, but also be messy and ugly. Be more afraid of Alzheimer’s than aging. A few wrinkles and some spots are not going to diminish your beauty; but worrying about that dark spot or thin hair will kill a bunch of brain cells.
Enjoy! Let go! Seems cliché, I know. But really! Just enjoy life both body and mind. Go on that roller coaster, jump into that pool, wear loose clothing, have unkempt hair (hmm… is it me or does that sound like Mowgli). Never mind! Go beat Sherkhan… ah.. ahem… sorry! Go live your life sisters! Stop worrying about your appearance all the time. It’s just not worth it!