It is hard being a girl in this day and age. I tell you, our mothers did not have this kind of pressure. At least in South India of the 70's and 80's when my mother was roaming about breaking young men's hearts (Not that I am, mind you. Am too old to do that, I like to tell myself, and stifle the vanity before it can assert itself and say that I could if i wanted to. In conclusion, I am not breaking any young guy's heart. At least, not intentionally.), she did not spend a fortune on moisturisers, or deodorants or conditioners. All she knew was red lipstick and perfume, and that too, only for important occasions. They did have one major expense, I must concede. Talcum powder, which was a big deal those days. Lily of the valley, I think was the fancy face powder they used, and kajal, for drawing out the length of their eyes (Hema malini and other actresses , of the 'tightly wrapped sari with short pallu' period, come to mind, when I see college pictures of my mother and her friends). But what is one cosmetic item compared to everything that a girl these days has to have on her dresser?
Hair must be straight and shiny( shampoo, conditioner, anti-fritzer, mousse, gel, you name it, and among the 5 girls in my apartment, we would have at least two variants of each product). Arms, legs and all exposed body parts tweezed, shaved, or femmed out. Face moisturised/sun screened/sun blocked, eyebrows neat, eyes highlighted. (In this day and age, you have to look good, or the big nasty happens. A prettier, younger model replaces you. It is funny really, when a seventeen year old uses more products than a twenty five year old.) When does this insecurity start? And how do you deal with it? Or worse, make sure your own daughter in the future does not fall prey to this ultimate self doubt of "Will I ever look good eneough?"
I recently saw an advert for a soap manufactured by the big bad cancer conglomerate, where, in a medical college, a girl student suddenly discovers that she has a voice, because she started using the beauty soap. A medical student, of all things. Doesnt matter that she is going to be a doctor and save lives, but that she needs a soap to give her opinions about where the class goes for a vacation. "Azhagu namma kaila thaan irukku", goes the tag line. I felt nauseated. Every 'Fair and lovely' advert I had ever seen came to mind. Everything preying on young chicks' insecure psyches. I have an aunt, who has really dark skin, who has been using fair and lovely since I was five. I was five and I knew what it was. And, she looks exactly as she did twenty years ago. Not even a millionth fraction of a shade (That graded paper they give you so lovingly with some of those products to compare with your skin ????Urghhh!) different.
And all those chemicals are really bad for you. And if you are preggers, no, no.
Now, why did I start on this? Do I have a big solution? No, I don't. But I do know that every time I wear eye-liner on a work day, to boost my monday morning blues, or get that particular -stubbornly resisting my charms- guy to notice my eyes, I would stop for a second, and re-asses. I am not saying I would give up smelling nice and fresh, or my smooth hair for a frizzy, uncontrollable mess. But that extra time that goes to figuring out how to look different for the day, could definetly be used for a few more moments of sleep, or finishing up that adrenalin spiking car chase sequence on that Andy McDermot novel, or horror of horrors (as my really cool Theory of Communication professor, who makes for many interesting stories, would say) spent writing home assignments for my Management process teacher (Who probably was a pre-school teacher before she got the misfortune to land at our B-school. Yes, she gives us home-assignments, and checks if we have written them. Every class.)
So, after that rambling, I just want to say that - If you use a lot of chemicals on your face and body on a regular basis. Stop! Think! How much of it do you really need?
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