By Jyotsna Joshi and voice-over by Anukriti Awasthi
How many of us are flattered by compliments such as “you look beautiful”, “what a heavenly beauty”, “pretty and gorgeous” etc. When it comes to appearance and looks, people go to any extent of extravagance. Especially when it is the day of their wedding. Few years back I had attended the wedding function of a close friend, and she had booked a ‘beauty artist’ for herself for all the associated marriage functions at a cost of 60,000 rupees. On hearing the amount I was shocked as so much money was going just on the make up that would be washed off from the face, the very moment those functions will get over. All this, just for the image projection of the bride as ‘beautiful’.
Again, societal standards since past few years have shown an inclination towards lighter tones of skin, slim bodies, sharp features… the list in never ending. So much so that there is a dominance of that feature which is considering by everyone as ‘beautiful’, ‘appealing’, ‘good’. The entire problem of this concept is that it categorizes people/places/events into discrete cohorts- with that cohort dominating which is as per the standards of beauty, again defined by people who make the society. An Indian by origin who is considered as colored in the USA might feel he/she is better in terms of public projection there when compared to a Afro-American or Latin American. Further, a Chinese by origin may feel she/he is superior in terms of public projection there in States, when compared with an Indian origin person- because of lighter skin shade of course. And this trends goes on and on, with people defining themselves among groups; and people of a group may feel that they are associated with one another through a common line of identity. This might further lead to hegemony between various such groups.
All in all, what really is the core to this problem? People seeking validation from others? Yes, partly. People seeking an affiliation to a larger group or entity? Maybe, yes. What is that large entity to which people are so keen to affiliate with? What are those standards to which people want to align with, and above all who defines them, based on what metrics? Why is fat and dark not considered as ‘beautiful’ and what is this penchant for slimmer and ‘in shape’ bodies. So many questions flock my mind each time I hear compliments like ‘Beautiful’… ‘Fair and lovely’, it makes me ponder on the vanity of the Society… As to why people want to be called as beautiful only? Why not being smart, meticulous, hard working, and thoughtful considered as greater compliments? Why does the weight of that one word ‘beauty’ exert so much on other traits of personality, often over shadowing them? And most importantly in many communities, why for women being beautiful is considered as greater a virtue than being sincere and hard working? Maybe that’s the reason why weddings are run like a cinematic function nowadays with exorbitant prices charged for a make up that lasts for just few hours! People are more happy that ways, I see. Happy for whom? For just putting a facade in front of the Society that will certify the wedding as grand and the bride as ‘beautiful’.
To all the women reading this blog, Be Yourself. You are special in your own ways, much above of the world to set benchmarks of beauty for you. For what the world sees is only outer beauty. But, you are beautiful from within- as a daughter, sister, friend, wife, mother, and number of relations that you invest your time and energies in, making people in those relations beam with happiness. Be You! For you are an irreplaceable Soul, whose mere presence lightens up the ambience. You do not need to confine to the beauty standards set by society. You may be weighing more or less, but you have never given up on your commitments, even for a single day! You may be of darker of paler skin, but you never failed to arrange those get togethers of your family where laughter and giggles spreads across. You may be short or tall, but you managed your household entirely like a pro man.