Food And Travel Lifestyle

The Perfect Beauty or The Perfect Stereotype?

women in Delhi
Written by Parnal Vats

I spend a sizeable amount of time in the Metro every day. Yes, sympathise all you rich pricks… One thing remains constant besides the unwarranted war- like unrest in the women’s coach- women trying really hard to look beautiful ALL the time. It’s Armageddon in there but she has to look like Megan Fox right? Sitting beside me yesterday was a young teenager with earphones plugged in- was wearing a pseudo corset with tight denims. Her hair, dead straight was collected neatly in a tight ponytail and she would get so upset when a strand or two disturbed the coloured gloss, sitting with utmost perfection on her lips. She would hold her gigantic mobile phone in front of her face every two seconds, just to make sure if she looked perfect. Obviously if it gets smeared even a little- That would be death. Sadly this is not the only girl who was so obsessively occupied with her exterior- there are dozens of new faces of this prototype I see every day. Some wear shirts too “neon”, some wear lip colours too loud and some forcefully fit in clothes too tight. Is this a disease? Looks like that to me.

Women in Delhi are turning into freaks when it comes to the way they look. They either spend a fortune in laser, hair treatments, nail art (so pointless) or zany dieticians. Is this only a personal choice? Not entirely. Is this an awkward result of the unreal expectations the society has from us women to look perfect all the time? Partly, yes. We either join the race or stay reticent and look ugly. We ‘dent and paint’ our faces to fit that imaginary code. If you can, just notice the pretentious way in which some ladies carry their bag- in the middle of their folded arm- holding their pride steady in their little attempt to walk the ramp. We are not entirely victims because we choose to abide by this apeshit. As we Indian women, slowly tread the road to liberalisation, we have stopped being ‘simple and homely’ to be ‘forward and sexy’. For looking the part we force upon us trendy attire, the wackiest shade of lip shades, painful treatments and ridiculous ‘nuskhe’, even if our bodies bear the tortures for years to come. Those tights on legs leave red welts- do you stop wearing it? That hair colour will leave your hair looking like chewed up sugarcane or a fresh haystack – do we stop doing it? That cream cannot make your fairer even if God himself applies it on your face every night. If you wear those sky high heels everyday it’s going to be big trouble for your spine honey! Girls are so obnoxiously afraid of a few censorious eyes. “Oh how will I look?” Seeing the mirror and shouting in horror to show disappointment with oneself is the trend.

At the sharpest end of the sword are girls who are not thin enough. From gulping mashed bitter gourd to going ‘vegan’ to following strict and senseless diet schedules- name it. Google tells them to go ‘vegan’ but they are unaware of some of the very serious health repercussions of the same- mental and physical fatigue, exhaustion, anxiety, low blood pressure, calcium and Vitamin B12 deficiencies and Osteoporosis. There is also a growing trend of puking after meals- girls eat stuff and then choose to ralph it out or use laxative abuse so that the food does not get converted into fat deposits. The condition is known as Bulimia nervosa in medical parlance, it is fatal and can cause electrolytic imbalance, infertility, peptic ulcers, swollen salivary glands and depression. The weight fixation is fast spreading its spell on many young girls today. The constant over exertion in various forms, for shedding weight leads to unhealthy BMIs (Body Mass Indices). Every human body has certain calorie requirements and unique nutrition demands given the digestive reflex, bone structure and other internal physiological make up- which stand ignored when girls crash diet, take diet pills or over exert- which can eventually lead to organ failure, anorexia nervosa and other severe disorders in the future. Can her body bend and stretch this much? Is she physically equipped to spend three hours running on that magic machine? Everyone chooses to surpass these critical questions. The ‘sanskari’ and affluent families will never want to admit to this guilt or even accept the serious obsession they impose on their daughters. If they don’t impose it, they silently bow their heads in latent agreement instead of counselling the girl and making her feel good about herself. “But who will marry her with this weight?”

What still stalks my brain is a friend who looked at the cover girl of GQ with such dreamy eyes- “Wish I was this hot” IT IS AIRBRUSHED AND PHOTOSHOPPED YOU MORON. The high end lifestyle magazines sell like hot cakes, no matter what gibberish they write in the name of ‘articles’- “How to get a body like Kareena?”- I don’t want to have her body- I have my own. “10 ways to get that perfect belly”- Perfect is not how you define it. “How to make yourself look irresistible to him tonight”- Does he love you or are you a cheese pizza who’s waiting to be masticated ‘tonight’? The glamour and glory the popular media associates with a certain genus of women- fair skin, straight hair, drop dead thin frame etc.- it all entices women to the point of lunacy. Those hair salons and body image studios look like an institution of utmost sorcery which will make our dreams come true- resize, reshape and transform us like inanimate objects. Girls stare at them like they are some holy shrines. But “what is the big fuss about it if I can make myself perfect though?”

As an additive to the absolute shame, our country has an omnipresent talent- talent to typecast. Here, women suggest everything from the way they dress- too bad we also ‘ask for it’ sometimes. If I am too pretty I am a bimbo, if I am not I might be ‘studious’ or a rank holder if destiny favours me. The way people pry and stare and formulate a detailed analysis in their heads is preposterous. But the way girls respond to those stares by ensuring perfection is even more outrageous. Isn’t this perfect-beauty culture an ideal unifier of sorts- because it cuts across caste, religion and class- which in itself, is a rarity in India. Dress to feel good and not to make them feel good. Don’t die for that unsaid approval or the appreciating gaze. They objectify because some of us let them do it. I thought we were done with the slavery business but women are turning into slaves of a new order- slaves who ironically set locks to their own sad cage instead of setting themselves free.

I have a couple of scars on my face and the retarded culture in Delhi made me feel so negatively aware about them in my teens. I consciously took them to be a burden that was to eternally weigh down my appearance. As I grew up I realised the magnificence of my own being and also the suggestive beauty of scars- how they tell a story, a story of my ideals, my battle with the popular norm and my sense of ‘beautiful’- which to the great disappointment of many, emerged victorious in the end!


About the author

Parnal Vats

Besides having a unique name that made her spend most of her life carving out repetitive explainations for the same, Parnal has a deep inclination towards writing. She loves reading books, writing poems and studying International Diplomacy and Indian politics. Being a law student, she is annoyingly opinionated most of the times- but this is a sincere effort to excercise her freedom of speech and she hopes her words reach out and make many hearts reflect!

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