Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A woman confident in her own skin is the beauty industry’s biggest nightmare

Courtesy - Google images


The beauty industry capitalizes on our insecurities because we let them.


My monthly visit to the salon plays like a typical saas-bahu saga that blares on telly every evening. The pedicure guy takes one look at my feet and starts weeping. With sad strains of violin playing in the background he looks up at me with sorrowful eyes and croaks – yeh kyaa haal banaya hai? I look shamefully at my calloused feet and croak back – that’s why I have come to you, you dickhead! If I am in a mood to severely disappoint many more, I get a hair-spa and sometimes a facial. The hair-spa guy runs his fingers through my hair, shakes his head in slow motion and before he can open his mouth I say no, I will not go for the ‘schizophrenia soaked in rare oils mined from Russia and then ground to fine paste with hibiscus and tiger testicles’ package. He looks heartbroken but I keep shaking my head like an autowallah who says no before you even say ‘bhaiyya?’ A lot depends on my no. If I let the facial lady have her way, she’ll will pull off the outer layer of my facial skin to reveal baby soft bleeding skin. She looks appalled when I tell her with a smug smile, I’m perfectly happy with my tanned skin and won’t do a thing to change it. Yet she tries to change my mind, every single time.

It’s a bit of a dilemma for me. On one hand I am constantly being told by my Facebook friends who I haven’t met about my gorgeousness. Then there are Twitter majnus who insist I’m the hottest thing to have happened since global-warming. And I believe every single one of them. So, you can imagine my consternation when I am told everything about me is sub-standard.

What, are you kidding me!

I get it, it is the salon’s job to make me feel miserable about myself. But it is my right to ask them to fuck off. Especially when I’m told they only way to beauty nirvana is a treatment that costs a king’s ransom.

The beauty industry, has built its fortune equating youth with beauty, slimness with desirability and dark skin tone that banishes you to a future as hopeless as Abhishekh Bachchan’s career. We are told, ageing is the gravest crime we can commit. Though Mr Pahlaj Nihalani who is dead against ladies indulging in unlady like fantasies may disagree. Therefore we must spend hours staring at the mirror, searching for fine lines, crow’s feet, dark spots and then arrest them immediately by mummifying ourselves with anti-ageing lotions, potions and serums. It works mostly, the guilt I mean. Many of us start believing in the magical powers of fairness in a tube, eternal youth in a pretty little jar and salon perfect hair in a plastic bottle.


What doesn’t work is this - the tall claims. In fact they are as false as the nationalism being used as a stick to rein in dissent. If the claims did work, we’d end up in a world comprising of assembly line beauties with smooth skin and glossy hair that swishes around like a horse’s tail. It’s my crooked teeth, frown lines, greys at my temples that make me who I am. Also, imagine the confusion for the men if we all looked the same. They wouldn’t know who to love, lust or hurt?

Somewhere down the line we seem to have forgotten that creams, potions and scrubs are just convenience stored in jars that can bought off the shelf. Even though it’s nice reading about DIY masks, conditioners, scrubs and soaps, not many of us are inclined towards pureeing, grinding our way to beauty. Especially at a time when women have discovered careers, a vibrant social life outside of their homes.

Also, what exactly is beauty? How does one really define it? As far as my limited intelligence goes, beauty has less to do with how you look and more to do with how you make others feel. It reflects through kindness, a cheerful smile and eyes that sparkle with life. No shampoo in the world can change your hair type from curly to silky straight. No lotion can change your skin tone and make you radiate like a 40W bulb. It’s more to do with what you were born with, what you eat and how you live.

Damn, I’m sounding like my own Mom!

By all means, splurge, indulge yourself in that skin brightener infused with patchouli and 4546 rare herbs. But keep in mind, this industry’s biggest nightmare is a woman content with her looks and who flaunts her daag, dhabbey, sagging skin like a badge of honour. Don’t let the beauty industry dictate how to feel about yourself!


It’s perfectly okay to look your age. Being called an aunty is not an insult even though the nincompoop who called you that may have meant it as one. Frizz is not something that you need to drown in gallons of conditioner. Freckles are cute. For God’s sake, don’t go on a punishing diet to get that perfect bikini body in just 15 days, because the miraculous tips are as fictitious as the photshopped beauties your favourite magazine promotes.

If you have money and time are on your side, explore the world, discover new interests, make new friends instead. Believe me, nothing makes you feel more beautiful than a happy and content heart. 


And till you start believing in the power of you, you have no idea what you are capable of. 




38 comments:

  1. This had to come out Purba. And I'm glad someone as self aware as you brought it out.

    Most people know that the beauty industry shares white lies with them. However, the pressure from society to 'look good' (for women and men) is so high, that people give into the most common trait about humans - eternal optimism. Kahin se kuch toh behtar ho jaayega. It takes courage to tell the beauty industry to "fuck off and do what I asked you to."

    The salon employees might look at you differently from vulnerable customers, but there's also respect for you in their eyes. Kudos!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Or they think of me as that rude lady who dismisses their concerns for her wellbeing like some pesky fly.

      Delete
  2. Very relevant post Purba.The most beautiful faces are those which radiate joy at a work well accomplished or success attained.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Takes us a few decades to realize that.

      Delete
  3. Tiger testicles, lol. Yea, it's funny how they make us feel ugly and unkempt. I have my own story about hair color. Will write it down soon.

    ReplyDelete
  4. What can I say? Every word is bang on. They prey on a woman's insecurity and laugh their way to the banks while perfect goodlooking women always look in the mirror with trepidation.

    I think with age comes the wisdom (hopefully) to feel confident in your own skin and to give a damn about naysayers especially those who have interest in making you feel ugly.

    Well written!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. With age comes the wisdom and confidence is absolutely right. But then confident women bring up confident daughters.

      Delete
  5. Superb piece, even though I am somewhat ambivalent about your transition to public service messaging rather than just being insanely funny and sarcastic. But count me among those who feel that you are HOT, just the way you are and remember that AUNTY means an object of uncontrollable desire in several indian sub cultures, especially south of the vindhyas :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aiyyo, I don't want to be someone's Lalitha Aunty!

      Delete
  6. Topical piece on International Women's Day. Of course, I am only waiting to see how HuffPo botches the title this time. Perhaps by saying - "Ten Tips On How To Save Thousands At The Salon"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL..LOL

      But guess what, I used your comment to promote my piece on Twitter.

      Delete
  7. I wish all the people who told me on my face that I am not good enough read this !
    What a beautiful article! Goes out to everyone trying to compete with their teenage daughters!

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    Replies
    1. Anita, I have seen your pics. You are beautiful.

      Delete
  8. I agree that we don't need to chase perfectionism whether it's skin, hair or body. Having said that, if I want to use eyeliner or red lipstick it's my choice to do so and feminism is about choice. One woman's no - kaajal look may be another's blue eye shadow nightmare. To each her own.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course. Feminism is all about respecting each other's choices. However, it's good to be well-informed before you go ahead and make that choice.

      Delete
  9. Great article, the poor parlour wala/wali might pray to his false God or Goddess that there are less customers like you who use their head and not just wear it as an ornament.
    Sharing ! 😊

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    Replies
    1. Ahh, they are just doing their job. But as a young gawky girl, the last thing I wanted to hear was negative comments from unknown women.

      Delete
  10. Yes, this does remind me of the time when I went in for a haircut and was strongly suggested to get a facial. When the salon lady asked me when was the time I had it done last, I said 18 years ago. She left and in came another "trainee" to take on the project that was my face!
    It is never enough. Never mind that I am a 36 year old woman, who has lived her life on her terms, traveled the globe and might I add, intelligent as hell :P. The first thing nearly every one has to say though is "Mota hoye jachhis", Bengali speak for "Damn girl, you are no longer hot!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol..sexism is not limited to just men. Certain women revel in putting others down.

      But then after a certain age we give a damn, don't we?

      Delete
  11. In fact the entire fashion industry thrives on the insecuritites they successfully instil in the gullible customers. Any raw rustic beauty still untouched by the glam world will prove this:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Considering how polluted our cities and towns are and how much pesticides we ingest with our food, I'm not sure if the raw rustic beauty adage still holds true.

      Delete
  12. Nailed it. All these beauty magazines in the name of creating the NEW women are only doing Body Shaming....and you are right do what you feel good about not what some magazine or beauty company tells u ....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beauty magazines should rename themselves to hypocrite diaries.

      Delete
  13. Ah! The White lies of the beauty and fashion industries - and the rest of us who sometimes believe them.
    Do what makes you feel beautiful - bang on with that.

    ReplyDelete
  14. "Hottest thing since global warming"! hahaha! This is an amazing post. Sharing it in the weekly links on my blog! :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. I grew up with the belief that beauty lies within. Then I learnt presentation also is important. One can sell a beautifully packaged but shoddy product also. I guess one has to balance out how much make over and make up they actually need. There comes the importance of a confident human, man or woman.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The trick lies is knowing when to stop. How much is too much and steering clear of obsessive grooming.

      Delete
  16. Great post and so apt for a women's day. These days it important to assert with beauticians and draw the lines. One would think our entire being depends only on cosmetics and flaunting beautiful clothes

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so glad so many of us are realising that it's not true. Not that it's stopping me from splurging on dresses and saris :p

      Delete
  17. I am mortally afraid of going to a make up stand and ask for a foundation, rather I go to a chemist shop and buy an all purpose lotion :P The judgement on skin tone and blemishes is spoken so casually that not once people think how rude it is or how hurt the other person might feel. They think they are doing a favor and being a good Samaritan by giving free advice, but instead they are only feeding the insecurities of most women. Very Well written Purba.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've even stoppped using sunblock lotions, though in Australia it's a necessity. We need to let our skins breathe, instead of suffocating it with lotions, concealers and foundation. And as such, most Indian women are blessed with great skin.

      Delete
  18. This industry is longer hounding only for the females - it's also stalking poor gullible abla...erm...able men like me.

    I get offers for hair regrowth treatments that sound like threats in my inbox and mobile phone on a real-time basis. Even Google keeps putting up baldness treatment ads at strategic positions on browser pages. I vividly remember seeing the ad image of a bald guy's face pop up and land on Sunny Leone's body once - it still gives me the creeps on odd nights.

    I think I should sue Google...hell, even their CEO is named Sundar.

    Cheers,
    CRD

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm still laughing. Your last line was a killer.

      Delete

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