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 :)