Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Beauty Queens

Saw this little kid in the elevator last night, preening at herself in the mirror. It was kind of sweet and I had to smile too, when I saw her making eyes at herself, quite unconscious about being watched. I briefly wondered if she were living some fantasy or other in her head inspired by a toothpaste ad or ad for whitening cream or fancy lipstick or make up? Kids are amazingly grown up these days and much more clued in to aspects of beauty which we hardly gave a thought to when we were growing up. All I know is that I was well into my teens before I even became aware that I needed to be aware of how I looked!

Till I was about thirteen or fourteen, I had been eating and eating and GAINING WEIGHT. Then one fine day I wake up to the fact that it is really important for me to look good too – and in this case, looking good means being thin and fair-skinned - and when I see myself in the mirror, I go into a state of shock. Heck, what I am, is fat, ugly and black! I even took to using some brand of whitening cream for a few days until my mother caught me at it and gave me such a verbal hiding that I never felt even remotely tempted, ever again, to buy any skin whitening cream. That cream, she screamed at me, WOULD NOT make me any more fair than I was. It would just make my skin break out in horrible patches. Of course I threw away the tube (she made me) and started immediately, on a weight reduction programme. Now, that was something my mother really approved of.

All said and done, I am not against kids taking an interest in their looks. It is natural at a certain stage to start wanting to look good and maybe some of us are aware of our looks earlier and others later (and others still, maybe never!) What I do wonder about sometimes, is the almost pathological need to look good among young people these days, to the extent of getting their faces fixed and girls of sixteen and eighteen going in for Botox treatments. (The papers are full of these stories).

Where does one draw the line? I mean I don’t want to adopt the role of a moral policewoman. (I leave that to Ms. Kiran Bedi. She does it so well, none of us need to bother to say what we think). But I do see a difference between a natural desire to look good and an unnatural craving to aspire to the crazy ideals of a crazy society.

Going back to that kid in the elevator. Something about her smile was so sweet, I feel she’s heading in the right direction. Hope she never thinks about a Botox treatment - ever!

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