Media and the concept of beauty


How do we define beauty? Is it fair skin, 18-inch waist, green-blue eyes, really long legs? Has our idea of beauty become so narrowed down that we are willing to go to any lengths to achieve that so-called-perfection?

You know some thing is terribly wrong somewhere when

  • 10-year olds start talking about dieting to get rid of puppy fat or start applying make-up
  • women known for their beauty (?) get heavily criticised if they appear human (!)
  • people get insecure or become depressed or worse, commit suicide because someone called them ugly
  • so-called pretty men/women get undue advantages at school, work, etc

Instead of appreciating ourselves as God’s gift to mankind, we are constantly trying to change ourselves to fit the concept of beauty as “defined” by the society. In India, the concept of beauty, till about 30 years ago was defined by fair skin. Any girl with fair skin was said to be beautiful. Any girl with wheatish complexion was said to be ugly. I have heard multiple stories where girls were rejected for marriage proposals just because they had wheatish complexion. This led to a mad rush for whitening the skin color of those unfortunate girls. My husband’s uncle would tirelessly make his daughter rub whitening lotions/scrubs/masks on her face just because she was not fair. The poor child had to endure this torture for very many years till her skin actually turned a lighter shade.

The obsession with light skin was always a blot on the way our society defines beauty. Things have just got worse with an equal obsession with weight.  Now, this obsession with weight can be looked at from 2 different angles: One is obsession with being healthy, the other is obsession with being size zero. I had written a blog on the harmful effects of size zero obsession sometime back. As far as obsession with being healthy is concerned, I think its great!! We Indians tend to consume a lot more than we can burn out, so it is a great wave of healthy eating that has made its way to our kitchens! Indians today are more aware and educated about healthy eating habits and a good lifestyle. The problem occurs when health takes a back seat and people want size zero at all costs, sometimes at the cost of their health. I see young girls today starving themselves in order to get that svelte figure. What they dont realize is that proteins, calcium and even carbs are so important for growing children. If they deprive their body of the basic nutrients, they will lead a very unhealthy life later on.

Indian bodies are a certain type – it is unhealthy for us to expect everyone to have size zero. And it takes a really ugly turn when Media starts bashing celebrities who are not size zero or have put on a little bit of weight – case in point, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan being reprimanded left, right and center for not having lost her post-partum weight. The kind of things that are being said about the woman who has always been known for her beauty were enough to put any one in depression, but not her! She has gone out to say this:

This is reality. This is who I am. I am a mother. This can happen and it has happened to me and it is fine. I have lived the real life in public eye and it continues. I have never endorsed Size zero. Beauty is being comfortable in your skin and this is that. Women are feeling that and they are seeing that and I am glad about it. Thats the way it should be.

Aishwarya has gone ahead to show that it is ok to put on a little bit of weight and be happy with it. Hats off to her for that. I wish Media would stop fostering fairy tale concept of beauty and unrealistic expectations. I also wish more celebrities like Aishwarya promote a healthy body image. It will go a long way in changing our constricted perception of beauty and help us appreciate and admire each individual the way they are :)

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16 thoughts on “Media and the concept of beauty

  1. jazmynand says:

    Women try to turn themselves into the ones that guys will run after. Weight and looks. Our men in this society are no better. They are just as guilty of contributing to the problem as women and society are. It’s just a big mess ! I’m glad I found a man who appreciates me and all of my imperfections that I would otherwise probably be insecure about.

    It also doesn’t help when parents/family torment the child. Just too much pressure

    • You are right Jazmynand!! Your comments reminded me of a guy who once rejected a girl because she had pimples!!!! Yes, its a true story.. there are freaks like that… To be fair to the good ones, I think the preconceived notion of beauty holds true for some women as well who are always looking for tall and handsome men… In their madness, they may actually lose out on a really great guy who was probably not as good looking but loved them to death!

      Beauty that is skin-deep will go away eventually but the heart of gold will stay forever!! :)

  2. There are more dimensions to the notion of ‘beauty’ than what meets the eye. Like stimuli they appeal to us, a kind word – a beautiful deed – a smile at the face of dire circumstances…beauty is all over out there. Guess what media showcases as beauty merely reflects it’s lopsided view.

    Nice post!

  3. It is sad how we often let other people dictate what we should look like. Thin is IN, fat is OUT. Who is anyone else to judge me based on how much I weigh. We are all beautiful the way we are. Well said!

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