Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Gilding Lilies

Liberty is a myth. Rousseau was so right when he said, ‘Man is born free but everywhere he is in chains.’ Women are too.

They have clamoured for liberation the most in recent times. And their struggle has borne fruit too. They are free to walk shoulder to shoulder with men and partake in the same opportunities of employment as well as enjoyment. They don’t have to bow to unnatural social expectations any more..... or so I thought, until a visit to a beauty parlour shook my complacency. Every section of the establishment was full, and ladies were waiting their turn. Ah the torture that they endured has to be seen to be believed. Pouring hot wax on body parts, ripping hair off the skin, cooking the face, gouging out blackheads, squeezing ripe pimples, pulling the hair – ! Besides the women spent hours with their faces or hair painted with chemical cocktails. A killing bill strikes a final blow. It may seem ironical, but I seriously think that the burqua could truly liberate a woman from these social evils, if she took to it of her own accord of course. Sarkozy be da.... be denitrified.

After spending so much time and money and suffering such agony, the women come out pleased and confident that they look like every other woman. Like soldiers in uniform, they all sport straightened hair that looks brittle enough to break, bleached clean-shaven faces and long nails that would be the envy of any rakshasi. Fashions do come and go but the concept of beauty has itself changed beyond recognition. Compare a Ravivarma beauty with a size zero glam golliwog. But perhaps that would be an unfair comparison. What I’m trying to say is that there was a time when a woman’s face was her fortune, today we would probably recognize a starlet by her belly button. Maybe I exaggerate, but I find I myself prefer an underclad Shreya to a clothed one! You cannot blame me for losing my balance – all this while I thought I was firmly rooted in tradition.

Indians had an absurd fixation on fair complexion. Now they've dropped it despite the tireless efforts of fairness cream ads; only to replace it with a height fixation. Won't women ever find happiness in the way they are?

The experience in a hair saloon in China was more pleasant. There young, pretty male attendants (not all Chinese men have protruding teeth!!) did the hair of the women customers and females (not necessarily young or pretty) attended to the male customers’ head. They concluded the session with a shoulder massage and they even cleaned out the ears. In the west beautifying could be disastrous, the result of the treatment is more gruesome than the treatment itself – just look at the botox injected and silicon implanted specimens. And poor poor MJ. Sooner than later these beauty (????) trends will capture the Indian mind no doubt.

Years ago it was rumoured that the consecutive Indian Miss World and Indian Miss Universe was a deliberate strategy to open a market in India for international cosmetic companies. Those words seem prophetic. The girl who sold jasmine garlands in the street corner has shut shop and is now working in – would you guess – a beauty parlour.


Jan said...

Every month when I go to de-moustache myself and tame the kambilipoochis (those furry catterpillars, no idea what they're called in English) that are my eyebrows, with automatic tears pouring down my tortured face... I wonder why I put myself through this ritual torture. Sigh. I confess, I'm yet another victim of fashion. But those are my only crimes against my body.

But I do like the occasional jasmine strand in my hair though... Smells good, looks pretty and isn't painful!

ThalassicReverie said...

A stimulating topic!
Enjoyed reading your thoughts and thank you for providing me the topic for my recent post :D

Anush said...

Since beauty is defined by society (and not by the individual's eyes, as per the adage), it is only natural that ladies go thru that torture u just so vividly described :)

some are naturally "beautiful" - as per the society's standards (slim, fair, tall, obedient to mom in law, husband-following, etc etc)

others want to be. Nothing wrong with that no? :)

and u havent mentioned the men who go gymming? :) dont they go thru torture as well?

ThalassicReverie said...

I stumbled upon an article just now by some Joanna Francis (Writer, Journalist - USA)


It seemed to echo a few thoughts similar to yours.


AtomicGitten said...

Well,may be it is like a curtain raiser for labor pains or something? If we are constantly inured to brain-screeching pain a la hair being ripped off with molten wax, then may be by some weird extremely limber stretch of the imagination, the pain of birth will be bearable (As if!!!)
Or may be it is an expression of the age old rule of thumb "if it hurts it's good for you"

Of course both possibilities are merely sad excuses :P

P.s: coincidentally i was going to write a post on waxing. Great minds eh? :D

Materialmom said...

Even if I hadn't seen you, I'd still think of you as a beautiful person with or without moustache and kambli poochies :)

I once had a room-mate with a birthmark over half her face. After the first few moments, the mark didn't matter - she was really pretty.


I haven't read your post or the article - have been a little preoccupied. Will do asap. And thanks for liking the post.


I totally agree with you. Nothing wrong in trying to improve one's appearance. But I don't think beauty should be defined by fashion - pink maybe a trendy colour, but wear it only if it suits you :)

It is interesting that you add the last 2 items to your 'naturally beautiful' list. M-i-ls aren't tyrants,
why are they always portrayed like that?

As for men gymming, I thought that was for fitness :) Are bulging muscles and snaking veins beautiful?(always reminds me of the pics in a bio text) Rocks aren't cuddly; teddies are :)
gymming maybe torture. How would I know? :)


Great minds indeed :)

Prima facie, the 2 possibilities seem sad excuses, but they could be closer to the truth than one thinks - pain does beget beauty (ah babies!). And pain is good for you - remember the disturbingly ungrammatical adage 'no pain, no gain'

``black light`` said...

coincident minds again!i searching fer an article on how to get fair !
'i' do not approve of girls, atleast teens messing themselves up..they (atleast the one im obsessed with) r already beautiful..especially wen she shapes her eyebrows.sheesh..fashion and beauty arent related anymore..

Materialmom said...

black light

Don't try to become fair. You look very attractive as you are :)

"Fashion and beauty aren't related anymore" - sums up succinctly and exactly what I was trying to convey.

Shaping the eyebrows is a small thing. Thank god your girl isn't trying worse beauty treatments.And yes, you are right - girls are never ugly.

AtomicGitten said...

Liberty is a myth alright.

Materialmom said...

It is.