Our society has a sick obsession with ranking women on beauty.
Men are targeted as well but it’s the women who most often fall under our glaring eyes and every pore of their cellular being is magnified.
This is why we have a multitude of pageants each year to adjudge their beauty (the younger, the better and let’s not forget their intellect determined from a 30 second speech and universal insert – “peace in the world”.)
Well ladies, if you so desire the ideal, worldly peace, the first step is not to enter a pageant to ascertain your own natural inner beauty and actually go out there and do your bit. Such rankings create a divide between women representatives based on shallow criteria judged by a panel who will be staring at you with superficial eyes. This baseless ranking system is one of the inherent reasons why women have such a hard time being appreciative of each other’s hard work.
How can anyone pick just one women from a group of over 100 ladies when everyone is beautiful? Why do we have Ms Asia Pacific, Ms Universe, Ms Milky Way but not the same categories for men? And why is it that a Ms Universe is supposed to be of a higher rank than a measly Ms Earth or Ms Antarctica?
What exactly are we ranking women’s beauty on anyway?
- The size of their nose? (rhinoplasty)
- The size of their lips? (liposuction)
- The size of their hips? (hip implants)
Every year, we see billboards of famous faces declared as “Most beautiful” or bodies in scantily clad bathing suits or Armani underwear, declared as “Most fuckable.” Exercising diligently towards a fit body is a great achievement and a person should be free to wear whatever the heck they are comfortable in. But I will never understand the rationale behind ranking people solely on looks.
If we were to talk only of beauty, I see plenty of Ryan Goslings, Gwenyth Paltrows, George Clooneys and Aishwarya Rais walking around in New York City. Of course, all those aforementioned celebrities are attractive ($$ helps) but are they the MOST beautiful? Not at all.
There isn’t a dearth of good looking people in the world.
Omit the word “looking.”
There isn’t a dearth of good people in the world– age, gender, race, nationality and physical features, no bar.
And sure, some of those celebrities may be too humble to care about such rankings but it’s a fact that more than their body of work (pun intended), such beautified rankings become a part and parcel of their acting resume. Just look at any of their Wikipedia pages [because having your own wiki page certifies how famous you really are ;] Their talent is solely what has kept them alive in the industry for so long.
Talent in a specific domain such as calculating the square root of 69 as Drake did in that Rihanna song can be ranked based on one’s speed and accuracy.
Success of a particular product can be ranked based on its sales figures or revenues.
But for god sakes, stop ranking beauty. Art and beauty are interrelated and even literature, classical pieces of music and paintings can’t be ranked on a universal scale because it greatly depends on the aesthetic taste of an individual who appreciates the work of the artist.
I was born in a country where even today, almost all beauty companies create cosmetics with god knows what kind of animal residues and promote creams with adverts which suggest that fairness is a key contributor to success; where many matrimonial ads place fairness as an important criteria in valuing a spouse; and, where most commercial actresses in Bollywood are so light skinned or undergo skin lightening procedures that they fail to portray the true beauty of an Indian. And even if the said actor has a less than fair complexion, photoshop editors will brighten their images, so much so that you will think the sun is rising out of their ass.
It is an extremely racist propaganda ever so subtly conveyed on TV and in print and absorbed by the young minds of our population. I will admit that even I had fallen prey to this absurd notion as a child fed into my brain by aunties and friends in India. I needed a wakeup call when I thought that a woman with great features like Freida Pinto is too ordinary looking by Indian heroine standards.
She isn’t ordinary looking. She is truly Indian looking.
Here are some fairness ads you can watch for yourself. The message is quite sickening.
Of course, these companies don’t spare the men because, God forbid, we ever topple the notion of an ideal man as being tall, fair and (Emami) handsome.
As if the pressure of rote learning, mind-numbing education in the country isn’t enough, Indians have another reason to feel inferior. From the North to the South to the East or West, Indians are beautiful in all skin tones and that is what makes us uniquely diverse.
I have several friends of African heritage and they have pointed out similar tactics employed to promote lighter skinned people as superior in their native countries. In contemporary America, I would like to use the example of Beyonce. I respect the singer because of her amazing voice and she is idolized by many as a black beauty icon. One of her famous commercials for L’Oreal sparked controversy when the diva pointed out that the exact shade of foundation she needs to match her skin color depends on her mixed ethnicity which also consists of Native American and French roots. L’Oreal came up with that “patented” lighter color shade just for her color tone. Why was her racial dilution for the sake of the color dilution of her makeup so necessary for her to be considered beautiful? There are more controversies about Beyonce using bleach to considerably lighten her skin tone. But let’s leave such celebrity stories for E(exclamation mark) TV anchors.
Meanwhile, watch this great video about Beyonce. You’ll thank me later :]
I have been told that I am fair by Indians and beige by Americans. At the end of the day, it’s just a difference of perspective based on what we commonly see around us. Whatever color I may be, I will admit that being fair has never put me at a greater advantage nor has being beige put me at a disadvantage.
In the end, persistent hard work has helped me to make it through my work with flying colors (pun #2). In fact, I can now understand the craze behind extremely fair Americans wanting to get tanned at the beach during the summer, compared to my fairness creams using/hiding under the shade of an umbrella to preserve elitist fair skin tone/bleaching counterparts in India.
Here are some real interviews from beach lovers:
- “I’m tired of looking so pale and I want some REAL color (and sun burns)” – White girl
- “I’m tired of this long blizzard of a winter and I wanna go ogle some chicks at the beach” – White boy
Last but not least, the most important truth- Most Americans are not as hairy as Indians. This brings me to the next topic.
Body hair is actually a good thing because it helps to protect our delicate skin from the sun’s harsh rays. Here ‘s a quick breakdown of societal preferences regarding body hair for both genders based on a survey of 2 people- satire and ire:
Hair is acceptable on the head, preferably if it is long, shiny and voluminous and if you can’t achieve it, weave it!*
Eyebrows- Keep just enough hair to be able to emote more expressions than Katrina Kaif ever did**
Everywhere else – wax, shave, laser, pluck or pray it away with a Harry Potter charm.
*I was shocked when a friend told me that Beyonce’s hair is not her own but actually a wig. The hair donations at Tirupati temple have been selling like hotcakes for decades to make such wigs abroad. Holy Hair!!
**KK, don’t take it personally. You’re a good dancer but so was Madhuri Dixit who is an iconic star. I’m sure you work hard. So do the spot boys and everyone else in the industry. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to act more than just smiling. That small boy in Bombay Talkies performed better than you. Even that ostrich in Dibakar Banerji’s brilliant homage to Satyajit Ray performed better than you.
Try to maintain more hair on your head than on your body. If you can’t, no problem. Use a lawn mower to shave away your chest hair like Akshay Kumar and Anil Kapoor may have done, or wax it all off and release your inner metrosexual. Rawr!
As for any instances of receding hairline, implant hair follicles on your forehead like Ranbir Kapoor and Salman Khan did to maintain their youthful looks. Or just be like Dhanush or Nawazuddin Siddiqi who let their true talent speak more for themselves.
We did not land on earth by auctioning on the types of skull shapes, jaw and cheekbone structures or the expected proportion of fatty mass in our bust to our gluteus maximus to the size of our waist. There isn’t an option to concoct the type of DNA that will make us similar to Marilyn Monroe or Rocky. Over time, some of us change what we can change under the surgeon’s knife, in spite of the fact that our nose, our eyes, our skin color etc are all beautiful the way we got ’em. People are free to get as many cosmetic changes as they wish especially for those individuals who have been unfortunate victims of accidents, acid attacks and other types of crimes that marred their natural, innocent beauty. However, there are some folks who just take it too far (insert picture of tanning mom Patricia Krentcil who took her 5 year old daughter to a tanning booth). It may be in our human nature to seek control over everything we can get our “paintbrush” hands on but at the end of the day, external beauty is an illusion.