Prisoners Of Beauty

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The following was a rant piece written after a conversation with a friend about how she had to get waxing done. We got into a discussion about whether cosmetic procedures really are a necessity, and this piece was the product of that.

Life is unfair, isn’t it? We like being girls – or women, if you please, but it’s just so hard! Nature has been unfair to us. Why do boys have all the fun? They don’t menstruate, and the only unbearable weight they ever have to lug around is that of their own-grown paunch. Their luxuriant moustaches are a sign of their masculinity while yours is a symbol of your un-womanliness; their body hair is a mark of respect whereas yours needs to be ripped out every month…and then they say women can’t take pain.

Hypocrites. We are.

While I can sympathise with the biology of our suffering because there’s nothing we can do about it, I can and will not ever sympathise with the pain we put our own selves through for the sake of being ‘beautiful’.

When we consider things like being hairless as a mark of femininity and worse still, a prerequisite for beauty, we imprison ourselves into horrible cages. We cannot blame men or the patriarchy or any such rubbish if we enable what inconveniences us and in fact, degrades our own ‘femininity’, in a sense.

With that said, I don’t pretend to be a non-participant in these activities. Hey, these brows didn’t grow into perfect arches by themselves! I do not condemn the practices of waxing, threading, or any such cosmetic procedures. I have the same stand on them as I do on makeup: it’s great if it makes you feel good but does not cripple you. It’s great if you want it but don’t need it, and those are two very, very different things.

To want something is to say – “I am happy with you. I am also happy without you, and content and confident, but I choose you because I can. I can choose to not choose you any time I like“.

To need it is to say – “I am happy with you. Without your presence, my sense of self esteem will crumble, my positive views of myself will fall, and I will run to you at the earliest opportunity. I have no choice but to choose you“.

The former is control; the latter is dependence. Look yourself in the eye and ask yourself honestly – where do you stand?

Maybe you’re at the ends, or somewhere in the middle. Wherever you are, my hope for you is that you are happy with your naked, unplucked, unpainted face and body, irrespective of whether you keep it nude or colour it any shade of the rainbow, shave all your hair off or grow cascades; I hope you do not depend on having what you don’t already have to be happy with yourself.

If you care a token about my view of beautiful women, I think a woman with confidence is a woman who can conquer the world. That’s my view of attractive people in general, really; lack of confidence is so acutely seen, felt and damaging to impression formation. To me, beautiful people are those with unblemished hearts, even if they do have blemished faces.

I know that (as much as we deny it), a large reason for caring about our looks is the opinion of the sex of our interest – usually men. A man who’ll measure your beauty by the hair you lack or own in excess is really not a man worth having.

In any case, whether you think I make sense or simply ranting, one thing we can agree upon, I’m sure, is that in most cases, nobody is dragging us by our overgrown jungles to go participate in deforestation, so let us stop cribbing about the unfairness of the pain we “have” to bear.

You can’t cage yourself and complain about being caged.

By Sanya Sharma

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Sanya is a second-year undergraduate student at Ashoka University uncertainly exploring the inseparable realms of history, politics and literature. As someone with an insatiable curiosity who is always at a crossroads, she loves the interdisciplinary in every field of life and so she indulges creating various forms of art. She writes to make sense of the world.

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