|Obsession with beauty standards|
‘Golden ratio’, ‘Barbie figure’, ‘Picture perfect’, ‘Size Zero’, ‘36-24-36’, ‘fair-skinned’, ‘TDH (Tall – Dark-Handsome)’ - these are some of the commonly used parameters that we all use in some fashion to judge a person’s face and body.
Who defined these standards and why do we blindly follow them? The younger generation that otherwise likes to walk on the roads less travelled – why has that generation so easily fallen prey to the media generated hullabaloo of defined beauty?
Media defines beauty from time to time. Size Zero was hyped when Indian actress Kareena Kapoor reduced herself to bones and now it’s a passé`. With ‘The Dirty Picture’ promos doing the rounds frequently on TV, debates have again started on ‘is thin really in’? Bootylicious and voluptuously curvy Vidya Balan (as Emraan Hashmi calls her – ye moti) has challenged the modern beauty criteria that wants women to be skinny, donning a wavy hair style and matching accessories.
Traditional Indian beauty has always been represented by gorgeous looks, lush curves and fleshy limbs. Khajuraho and Ajanta and Ellora stand as a blunt testimony to this fact. Matahari, the sexiest woman spy ever, was curvy but not at all flimsy. When Chloe Marshall became the first size 16 girl to reach the finals of Miss England contest in 2008, it raised many eyebrows. While if you look at photographs of fully dressed Ms. Chloe, you understand how she managed to reached the finals. She is beautiful. She may be fat or whatever but she has a cute, smiling, pretty face.
Women and their struggle with perfect beauty is an old story and also probably never ending. According to a study, 95% of the women are not happy with the way they look. The ISAPS Global Survey reveals that US leads the list of countries with the highest number of cosmetic surgeries done every year. And Voila! Our own India comes at no. 4.
Here comes the question – why doesn’t the wiser sex break off all the stereotypes and free itself of such image-obsessed and figure-conscious flash lights? Reasons are simple.
Number one – companies and agencies do not want women to be satisfied with their looks.
Indian cosmetics market is increasing like never before. In 2008, the Indian cosmetics market stood at $2.5 Billion and in 2010 it reported a staggering rise to $9.3 Billion! Also as per a recent ET report, women have become the main purchasing power and hence it is important to lure them to sell products. So we clearly see that if women become happy with how they look, where does the gigantic cosmetics industry go?
Companies have a vested interested in doing so and the advertising industry is simply playing the game with smart moves. A deodorant ad shows girls swooning over a bare chest male or many hunks trying to woo the babe. Soaps, shampoos and creams all lead to a beautiful and happy you and that results in a happy married life – after all, your hubby or your boy friend wouldn’t want to leave you if you use the ‘X’ brand of cosmetics. Right?
Ironically, women who are generally touted as the irking bargainers hardly bargain these products with anything. They are so riveted on ‘bodyism’ that from day to night and from dusk to dawn, one mechanism keeps working throughout – self beauty treatments.
Number two – women judge women.
I have hardly seen or heard men judging a woman on her looks so minutely as women do. ‘Oh! She has pimples’, ‘she is good but eye brows are not properly trimmed’ and blah blah!
Since the central object in women’s lives now a days is beauty, every woman consoles herself by comparing her with others and thinking, ‘hmm.. am atleast better than her’. Only she does not know that the other woman also thinks just the same!
A woman’s beauty or the idealised beauty matters to women more than it does to men. When a man (let me call him a hunk to symbolise a handsome, brawny man to make it more interesting) finally settles down with a woman, you realize that she is not the typical model look types girl you had imagined. She is a simple, sober and wise girl who probably won his heart and not just his gaze. Men admire beauty without any doubt. But beauty to them is not about perfect hair style or taut legs or M shaped lips. They look for beauty that lasts forever - Beauty of mind, of body and of tongue. A presentable, sensible and decently dressed woman is beautiful for atleast 90% of the men out there.
Number three – getting a sense of purpose
Women who otherwise lack a sense of purpose in life find it easy to focus on beauty fixation. They are not happy with their own self, and not just their looks.
I believe with proper care and attention everyone, from the very beginning, starts to feel being loved and belonged to. And that does the trick. If we love ourselves, we don’t give a damn to what others tell us. Even if it is a mirror!
Kjerstin Gruys, a 28 yr old graduate student of UCLA’s department of Sociology is almost half way through her quest to spend an entire year avoiding a mirror and it also includes her wedding day!
“I am trying to emphasize my appearance less and other parts of my life more,” says Gruys.
Very well said Ms. Gruys.