By P.V. Durga:
Growing up as a woman in our society, was probably the most stressful period for me because of all the attention around my physical features. Thankfully at home, my mother never made me feel conscious about my looks; it was these ‘others’ who took an unusual interest in my broad forehead, and even went on to teach me how to comb in order to cover up. And there were people who were bothered about how thin my hair was, as opposed to that of other girls. Like that was not enough, I realized that apart from having eyebrows, their thickness also mattered, courtesy of the ones who asked me if I had ever considered drawing my eyebrows to enhance them.
But there is another side to this. There were friends who wished that they had few of my features as well, because they wanted my sharp nose, brown eyes and cheekbones. Looking beautiful is just not enough, it seems. There will always be people who will dissect every feature in your face and body, and tell you how to look better. Isn’t that the reason plastic surgeons are laughing their way to the bank? The pressure to look good has percolated deep down into the minds of people. Let’s face it. These good looking people are automatically celebrated as the embodiment of all the perfect virtues in our society.
In times when television commercials about beauty products make a pimple seem like it’s the end of the world, and good hair as the basis of self-confidence, Kangana Ranaut turning down a fairness cream’s ad campaign inspired me because she was sending a clear message that beauty does not figure anywhere in finding one’s worth.
While feminists, on one hand, are fighting to help women gain acceptability the way they are, more and more women are falling prey to the idea of perfect features. But what is this perfection and flawlessness that we are running after? Is it all about the physical standards of beauty set by the western world? Also, I often hear celebrities saying in interviews that they are blessed with good hair/ skin. Does that mean that women who have the not-so-good hair are not blessed?
In all this frenzy, people have completely forgotten about the one thing that decides how an individual looks – genetics. And that was exactly why I stopped paying heed to all the attention about these flaws in me that people were constantly pointing out to. That was how I was born, and that is how I am going to remain. Beauty, for me, is a feeling which everybody is entitled to irrespective of their physical features.
I have always wondered as to why there is a hullabaloo about the looks of only a woman and not those of a man. Brides invariably end up stressing out about their beauty and weight before their wedding because of the pressure to look their best on the biggest day of their lives. Advertisements have repeatedly shown us that a woman is taken seriously at home and in the workplace only when she looks her best. Is society moving in such a direction where beauty is imperative for success in one’s personal and professional life?
Whenever I am a part of a conversation amidst women, I end up hearing gossip and criticism about someone’s beauty, or the lack of it. It is important that women feel equal to one another before fighting for equality with the opposite sex, and looks should stop coming into the picture. If we want to call ourselves feminists, beauty parlors should not be our only source of self-worth, and physical beauty should not be the yardstick for judging another person.