32 26 32…. That’s the magic number right?
Who made this the magic number?
Who made fair, tall, thin, doe-like eyes, rosy lips is the ideal beauty, right?
Who set this standard?
I bet you desperately want to know the answers to these questions. I do too.
I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I do know that you have a greater problem with people around you who believe in these standards of beauty more than the people who made the norm. You probably have a problem with yourself too for believing these unrealistic standards of beauty and failing at achieving them.
Every new person you meet and of course the old acquaintances have an opinion about how you look, about the colour of your skin, your eyes, your nose, your lips, your pimples, your eyebrows, body hair, weight, height and what not. Strangely enough, these opinions are almost similar. We have all been culturally conditioned into believing these standards of beauty.
The problem is that we believe these stereotypical notions and examine ourselves on the basis of the set standards. We then tirelessly try to achieve these standards, go on diets, beauty treatments, ridiculous fitness regimes, sometimes even surgery. But then we end up feeling bad irrespective of whether we’ve achieved these goals or not, because this internal negative critique has transformed into a habit. Even when one fit into the perfect size, the happiness does not last, as the body image issues have become an integral part of people’s self-definition and anything else seems unfamiliar.
Why does perfection need to be a punishing routine, leading to obsessive, rigid behaviour? Why should it rely heavily on judgement, and exclude normal life? Obviously, it isn’t meant to be a human trait. Human beings are designed to have flaws; perfection is meant for the Gods.
Usually we strive toward being perfect to compensate for a sense of inadequacy. People who want to be perfect usually have an exaggerated sense of their own shortcomings. They typically received messages earlier in life that they weren't good enough. So they decided that only by being perfect would they be beyond reproach. Perfectionists tend to think that other people are somehow better or superior to them, so they need to be without flaw just to catch up.
Yesterday was one of those days when my urge to look appealing won over my common sense. So I finished all my household chores and went to the parlour. I am not the usual college going or young client so the look the hairdresser gave me told me everything he thought about me. I said that I had come for a hair treatment. He showed me to a chair. And then my ordeal started.
He started by saying that my hair was completely damaged and that nothing could be done. My hair lacked moisture and strength according to him. I felt that I had wasted a trip and was ready to leave since he said that there was nothing he could do.
He stopped me and said that he would try to do the necessary corrections (yes, that’s what he said). I sat there for two hours and all the time he was just telling me how bad my hair was. I listened to all of it and didn’t want to say anything while my hair was in his hands.
When he was done, the look he gave me reminded me of the ugly duckling story. I paid the bill, said thank you, and me being me, could not leave without telling him what I thought.
I told him that my hair was dry and unmanageable, which was the very reason for which I came to the parlour. I told him that he was giving me a service for which he was charging me and he should stop giving unsolicited advice. I said that I was well informed about the condition of my hair and also the remedies available. I tipped him nevertheless and walked out.
It is not the first time that this has happened; every time we go to a parlour, the beautician will reveal so many imperfections in our faces, bodies and hair that sometimes we may end up believing that we are really very ugly.
I know they are trying to promote their business and sell as much as they can but sometimes, even if rarely, it may dent our confidence.
It’s about time we too stop torturing ourselves and others with these unrealistic standards of the ideal beauty. Because hey, there is no ideal! So let’s start by accepting and loving ourselves. Let’s change the definitions of beauty; beauty is something very abstract anyway. Make a conscious effort not to judge people by their appearance and judge all ads that reinforce the irrational standards of beauty.
And always remember that the character of your mind and internal being (soul, if you will) can never match the outward appearance, so turn a deaf ear to those voices that tell you about your bodily imperfections. So let’s flaunt the hairy and waxed limbs, flabby curves and bony edges, fair and dark skin, scars and dimples alike devoid of all filters.