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Beauty?

I just couldn't stop myself from expressing this, but what happened to all that talk about natural beauty and self acceptance? Of late I've been seeing more and more ads about beauty products in the course of my short cartoon, science shows and movies and the newer ones really have started to bother me. The latest one is a new "Underarm fairness cream/deodorant" or something of that sort!!

Why this obsession with extreme fairness? One of the latest ads featured two girls, one of them as pale skinned as the 'white people' (please don't take this as a racist phrase) and this one asking the other how she got an even paler skin!! Frankly
the second girl looked absolutely sick and it is very much obvious that the 'glow' was a visual effect. But thats where the cosmetic companies set the standards in people's minds. I remember an episode of Phineas and Ferb  (my favourite cartoon) which talked of the same stuff.


In it, Candace (Phineas & ferb's sister who drank a growth elixir ) says 
I just realized something.You both make money off of people's natural insecurities. You show people oddballs so that they'll feel better about themselves, and you make beauty totally unattainable so they'll feel worse about themselves. Look at me. I'm 50 feet tall now and it's still out of reach.
 Well, that's exactly what the cosmetics companies do. They advertise products not because they know that people want their products but to make sure that they grow a need for the products in their prospective customers. They plant it, feed it, nurture it  just like a plant and finally reap their rewards leaving their customers no room for doubt or remorse because they (the customers) are in no way aware of the 'rat trap' they are in. Once they are in, most stay there trapped for the rest of their lives, unaware of the illusion that they live, see and breath.

Sometimes I see ladies who are covered in makeup and wonder "Why would they go to all this trouble just to look so hideous?". I'm not exaggerating. Its a fact. Many just put on as much make up as they can, so much so that you don't see the person at all, just a puppet made of make up controlled by a poor fool who got too obsessed with what others told him/her  that they forgot to listen to their own hearts and bodies.

And I'm not talking just about the fairer sex. Its the men too. They too have fallen prey. A couple of years back, fairness cream for men was completely unheard of, at least in these parts of the world. But now they too are on the rise, maybe its the price hike that's forcing to companies to scam more of the demography!

And speaking of perfumes, I often wonder, "What happened to all the people's  noses??" I didn't know there were so many anosmic (impaired sense of smell) people in the world. Many so called 'perfumes' are  often so irritating that its not occasionally that I've had to hold my breath to stop myself from  suffering. But then, most people are not bothered by it and definitely not the one wearing it. Well, that's owing to the amazing wizardry of our Mother Nature. The nose, our other sensory organs  are extremely adaptive to any changes. Just think back to a time when you stepped out of the sunlight into a dark room. The eye slowly adapts itself to the lack of light or in other words it adapts itself back from a state of excess light. Similarly, if you are exposed to a particular  smell for an extend period of time, the nose automatically decreases our sensitivity to that particular smell. But  the process is much slower than that for the eye and is even more slower when it comes to recovering the sensitivity.

Do I hear you thinking "Hey, what's wrong with losing a bit of sensitivity to smell?" Well, whats wrong with losing a hand or a foot? Nothing much except that you would be handicapped with regard to any related action. If you have a particular talent or power, why lose it? By willingly sacrificing your senses you sacrifice your ability to enjoy the finer things of life, the smell of the first rain, the morning dew, the blooming flowers.

Then comes the anti-perspirants. Weighing a bit of sweat against stopping the body from wanting to cool itself, in my balance, the former is much much heavier. I think its downright wrong to force the body against its wills. I'm not advocating against medicines but remember, just because it comes in handy doesn't make its hasty overuse more handy. It just makes it more dangerous. Deodorants definitively are better than anti-perspirants! But I dont advocate either of these.

Every one is beautiful in their own right. A little bit of something to enhance it isn't wrong but as the saying goes "Too much of even ambrosia is a poison". If you must use a perfume, prefer lighter tones, the ones that don't overpower but complements you, if you must use make up, use lightly and sparingly, make it complement you not hide you.

Wanting to overpower is a sign of weakness. A sign that says very loudly, "I don't really look good or smell good. That's why I'm presenting you with this look or smell  and hiding the real ones". It sometimes says, "Hey people, I don't bother about what you think about me as long as you notice me" and it secretly says "I'm afraid and ashamed of myself and so don't see the real me, but you may look at this fake me as much as you like."

Personally, I'm proud to say, I don't use any of these stuff, not even talcum powder and never faced any problems. Not because I'm good looking but because I'm confident on my stand and that's how I intend to be.

But there is one more topic that's worth mentioning since I got your attention. Body Image.
In psychology, it typically refers to one's perceptions, beliefs, and emotional attitudes towards one's body.                  --Wikipedia
Seeing people tying to get thinner and thinner and then a little more thinner  is extremely saddening. Trying to stay fit and healthy is not wrong, on the contrary, it is essential. But trying to get a 'hourglass' or any similar perceptions is utterly wrong. Its unhealthy and unnatural.

Here is an audio of a program from a CBC reporter on body Images in India. It's amazing what resources one can find if one puts a few hours into it! This is the original link. Amazingly, the program talks about the preceptions of Indian society about both body size and skin color!!


Other Reads: Some links that I came across in the process of searching supporting articles for this post.
How fair is Fair & Lovely?
Indian's and Fairness
Photoshop-ed Images as ads
Body Image: Loving your body inside and out
Myths and Legends: An FAQ

Just a legal statement: All of these links were "safe" at the time of posting. I'm in no way responsible for the contents of any external links.

If you know of any other links, please let me know.

PS: If you know of someone suffering from a bad body image or the social stigma of skin tone, don't leave it be. Please talk out and create awareness. Direct them to this post or any similar ones but please make sure that you got through it before referring someone to it or you could end up doing more harm than good!!

3 Thoughts:

Sky June 26, 2011 at 12:36 PM  

I don't take any stands in this post.

The other day my senior was advising our colleagues that one should use perfumes and deodorants so that others feel good about them. He was stressing the importance of maintaining a professional image at work place.

Read along with this my difficulty to work when another of my colleague comes to office drenched in perfume.

Kiran Rajmohan June 26, 2011 at 1:14 PM  

Thank You Sky,
My question is, as you said about your colleague,is being 'drenched' in perfume conveying any kind of professional image. For my part, I certainly wouldn't think such a person to be serious or professional about his/her work.

Well, obviously, an office shouldn't reek of sweat but neither should it reek to perfume!!

Sky June 27, 2011 at 10:27 AM  

So very true!

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Kerala, India
Think, Think, Think and when you feel you can no more, talk and make others think.

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