I cudn’t help laughing when she told me this first. I was getting late for department and what she said hardly struck me first. She had a weird way with words. "This is so unfeminine", she said. "What" ?, I asked. "This you know – I mean you can wear capris but" ….. "But what" ? I asked. I was limping around with an injury and in no mood to wear a salwar letting the salwar stick to my bandage. "Ya, so tell me", I said. "You know what , I would love wearing a Capri and I don’t for this reason". "What’s the reason now don’t test my patience", I said. "Well hair"!!! "Ya hair mammals that we are, we will be hairy some like gorillas and some less", I said putting my things in my bag. "You are missing the point Teena this is not feminine". "Look, I am not doing this to challenge femininity neither am I going to stop wearing stuff that makes you feel I am masculine". "Well Teena it looks sad and I am going". I sat on my bed wondering how compelled we are by standards set by someone. Men are supposed to be hairy and men who aren’t fret over that. Women are not supposed to be hairy and those who are fret over that. Suddenly Nandita Das’s Extra Murel lecture came to my mind. I had wanted to write about it for long. Many of my intellectual friends here found it disinteresting but that very comment of theirs made me think as to did I really know them.
She made an interesting comment about the terror posted by advertisement and cosmetic industry together.She mentioned an incident at a beauty parlour where a beautician told her “ Madam sun tan hai massage se nikal jayega” ( madam your face looks tanned and might clear if I massage) and she replied “ Yeh toh paidahishi tan hai ragadne se nahi jayega” ( This tan is permanent by birth wont go by your scrubbing).
I often hear friends saying you are fair any colour suits you. Their obsession with fairness frightens me. Its sickening to see people fall for every poster and buy these creams its obvious they apply some dark paste on fair models and show how they turn fair in 14 days , might be using graphics for this too. No transformation of a real dark girl has happened and people still buy these creams hoping to be supermodels. When Nandita Das said she fears flipping pages of these magazines out of fear of feeling inferior I had a laugh obviously the gloss effect of faces on paper create havoc in minds of women who dream the same miracles.
One of my hobbies now is to apply all that my sister gave me dutifully out of the fear these stuff are nearing expiry dates and I cant waste money, but I could not beat my target some of these stuff are horrible so I threw them ( sorry Asha, sorry mom)
I learned terms like concealer ( some stick which conceals marks on face), Astringent ( some chemical that clears blemishes) recently from my sis, my sis stuffs my bag with some icky liquid called sun tan coz Chennai is supposedly sunny and my friends ask me what’s the SPF of the suntan ( I smile coz I am ignorant about SPF).
And they tell me darling this is not being fashionable it’s caring yourself (yeah colouring hair to cover grey, using creams worth 800 bucks to cover wrinkles is caring to some to me its extravagance). When I said I love greys they told me I am insane, well maybe people like Nandita who mocks these comments like me would be labelled art film actress. Who sees her in mainstream cinemas anyways a girl told me.
The same industry would worship Bipasha Basu as the dusky queen and black beauty and Naomi Campbell as dark queen of ramps. I am sure they would find creams soon to get darker and we would have people fighting to get dark, get dark brides all they got to do is stick posters of Naomi and Bipasha and write “we dare do you”. “Black Is in”. I wish they did it to prevent many suicides.
And as for fools like me- I might lose my candidature in the wedding market for cherishing greys, frowning at waxing and acting unfeminine. Someone recently told me my blogs are feminist- well I don’t do what people expect me to without questioning why I am doing them. If that is feminism hihihi I am one . I thought men were spared but with ‘Fair and Handsome’ boom, men shaving hair and shaping eyebrows and going for facials things seem dismal. Well today media decides if cracked heels should be hidden, or yellowing teeth will ward off proposals or grey hair will reduce sex appeal, when we have already survived for years with all this. How much of our behaviour is health seeking or consumerist is the question.
The truth is we are conditioned subliminally and we find umpteen excuses to pamper our desires. You could negate me by saying what’s wrong in looking so. My answer would be it’s alright as long as you give space for people who don’t follow you and don’t label that off the stand.
Note: Before reading this bracket your thought, forget that you think I am a feminist and forget what you actually think. This is no legal battle its just a blog.Then it makes sense.