Looks v/s Substance – The Paradox of the Indian Youth

Posted on July 9, 2010

By Avani Bansal:

As kids, we were never forced to make choices. We could have had all that we wanted to. We could have toys and chocolates too. We could have dad and mom too. We could have dresses and books too. But as we grow up, the realisation dawns upon us was that now we are faced with tough choices, choices that are inevitable. We have to choose: Science or Humanities as a stream. We have to choose: staying with parents or in boarding. We have to choose: Girlfriends or Boyfriends. But as we grow further and step into being a youth from a teen, we realise that the choices are only becoming tougher and more complicated with the passing of years.

To choose between cheating in an exam and losing those few marks that would have otherwise given you the rank that you so desperately needed to choosing from staying single or being committed. To choose between being a silent spectator to being a rebel. Yes, we are born in an age where choices are available. Where we are free to determine our destiny. Where, we aren’t looked upon as an alien for making the choices that we do. But all this while, a feeling that stays is that of being ‘sandwiched’. For though there were choices, there was no ready made guide map to ease my decision-making. But more than the decision making, what was frustrating was the very act of choosing one over another. Didn’t you always wonder — why couldnt’ you have it all. But this remained mere wishful thinking as you were never left with a choice not to choose. Sometimes easy and at other times tough but decisions had to be made.

But when you look back and then look around, what strikes you is the similarity of situation in which you find the majority of the Indian youth today. Doesn’t each one of us face this dilemma at umpteen times wherein issues range from trivial to life-deciding. But one such choice that clearly stands out as the most commonly found among the youth today is that of ‘Looks v. Substance.’ Though some are equally blessed with both!

Believing that you are the best in everything that you do, how many times did you wonder that perhaps all you needed to work was on your looks. Having convinced yourself that you didn’t have to change just because you didn’t fit into the so called ‘universal standards of beauty’, how many times did you revisit this very fundamental make-up of yours when somebody raised the slightest doubt about it. How often did you sit alone to have this conversation with yourself but concluded that for right or for wrong but one does need ‘looks’ and so you better look good. Knowing fully well, having read over a dozen times that it’s the ‘substance’ alone that takes you far, how often do we settle for the ‘superficiality’. And continue to feel that perhaps ‘gori chamdi pe hi gumaan kar sakte hai!’ ( You can only be proud of beautiful skin!)

Born in the East in a culture more exposed to the West, how is the youth supposed to deal with these and a million choices. How are we to know which path to take, what pointers to follow and most importantly how not to be ‘sandwiched’. Whether to go for what the world testifies as sure short success mantras and the prices that it comes for and whether it is worth all of it.

But you may say, that all this makes for good debate but is rather useless. I would say- if only each of you reading this took a small pledge — to treat every person you come across as more human, irrespective of how he/she looks – wouldn’t much more love be flowing around and consequently so much more humanity. Looks, looks, looks — Doesn’t anyone want to be more human anymore!

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