ByÂ Rachna Baruah:
Beauty is that one contested word of which we hear so much every passing day. Oxford defines beauty as a combination of qualities, such as shape, colour, or form that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.
We define and judge. Who? Well let’s just say we define and judge every possible thing or creature that comes in front of us- right from passing our critique on that ‘beautiful’ dress on the ramp to the ‘ugliest’ fish in the world. We are a bunch obsessed with beauty, aren’t we? We have to literally categorize everything into the diasporas of faultless beauty and the crook of unsightly images.
Though flawed in nature, we humans never give up the relentless struggle to beautify or elevate the normal character of life. Let’s take an instance of our obsession with the pretty faces on the glossy covers of the leading fashion magazines. We look at the trail of surreal angels on those pages and just wonder in awe how or who could’ve created such pieces of art? Rarely does it occur to us that we live in the world of ground-breaking technology where virtually anything is possible. Nothing is real in our distorted reality of life and neither is beauty, in this case. We follow such stringent gauge to judge beauty that we forget about the real picture. The real picture is that not everybody is a Miranda Kerr or an Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. Not everybody earns their bread from the maintenance of their dainty faces or petite bodies. Not everybody has the liberty to spend a fortune for the latest skin treatment for them. In reality, we are a bunch of people who are as common as everybody out there. The other way to put this is that the ones who stand out on these cover pages and the showbiz pedestal are just as common and more importantly, normal as us.
As modern perfectionists we have created a distorted reality for ourselves, thanks to Photoshop and other likes that now we are trapped in our own self-made cage. We all know that the glamorous pictures that we see on the billboards are nothing but a creation of good editing skills but yet like imbeciles we keep knocking at the same door of illusion again and again. The drastic change that the editing makes is beyond shocking. It is sheer hysteria to see the gradual process and the end product. It is almost as if a new creature of perfection has been created and put in front of us so that we can now peacefully return to our imperfect world and die in self-loathing.
On one hand there is an obsessed population who can go to any lengths to achieve the unreal goals of ‘beauty’ that the society has created for us, and there is on the other hand, another segment who believe they are setting a counter culture by gorging on food and letting the world know that they are desirable when plump. On one hand there are teenagers obsessed about the new growing popular trend of ‘thigh gaps’ and there are societies like in Mauritania where young girls as early as five are force fed to dangerous lengths to become fat so that they can find good husbands later in life.
In both contrasting situations we see how society has created a norm for the people, and most especially for women as to what is desirable. In most western societies, status and figure are inversely proportionate. The higher you go up the societal scale the thinner you are expected to be. On the other hand, Mauritanian culture follows a direct proportion of figure and status. It is believed that the bigger you are in size, the more space you hold in your husband’s heart. The bigger you are, the more honour your family has in the society. These dichotomies bring us closer to the reality of how society makes your image desirable or non-desirable.
These preposterous standards of beauty is what we follow blindly and despite debates, discussions, campaigns we continue to follow the league of the impeccably edited versions beauty. The increasing reports of brides going under the knife before their wedding or even better, the mother of the bride/groom going under the knife to look that special glamorous bit seems outrageous but when yesterday’s deviance becomes today’s normality, who are we kidding, right? Despite the awareness programs, we will continue to go that extra mile to be the perfect image of flawless beauty. What do you then, suggest should be the approach to bring people down to the real, natural standards of life?
Here’s some food for thought: