Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pretty Woman

The husband’s sister (I have decided that I find the in-law word a bit regressive) was in town last week. She is successful, attractive, mother of two and very ‘in control’ for the most part. When she stepped out of the airport, in the true spirit of the NRI who usually pays an arm for beauty treatments back home, she began fixing salon appointments to spruce up for her upcoming company retreat.

“You know how these young 20-something associates give you the ‘lookover’. They are forever checking you out and whispering — how you shouldn’t really be wearing something so tight or so short, how you have flesh where you shouldn’t have — you really can’t afford to take chances. You really got to keep up.”

I couldn’t imagine someone like her being threatened by a 20-something or even giving a fig about what they think. But she was, and she did.

I felt like telling her she should peep into the mind of the 20-something, may be then she would never want to trade places with one — size zero, great mane, hot boy friend notwithstanding. Because her mind would be a cesspool of burgeoning insecurities, such as, ‘Is he really into me?’, or ‘Is that a frown line?’ or ‘Should I eat dinner or skip it?’

I grew up thinking that my little sister was the one with the looks. Chiseled features, great cheekbones, dark, curly cascading hair, clear skin, gorgeous dimples and perhaps one of the few noses I have seen that can do justice to a nose-pin. But tell her she is looking good on any given day and she’ll go, “May be because I’ve just washed my hair,” or, “May be it’s the colour of my kurta,” or some such statement that reeks of modesty.

When I posted a “Your hair looks great!” on a friend’s Facebook album, she immediately replied, “It only looks good in pictures!”

A few weeks ago, I ran into a 30-something who was plotting to wangle a proposal from her 20-something boyfriend. Apparently she said to him, “The more you make me wait, the more plastic surgery you will have to pay for.” I figured her self-esteem totally depended on her manufactured looks. But how secure can a relationship that functioned on such a gradient be?

It made me wonder why women are so insecure about the way they look, however perfect they might seem to the eye of the beholder.

Over to me. It took me half my (expected) lifetime to come to terms with my looks. Till that happened, it was always about, “My hair is too thick/too curly, my arms are too thin, my nose is too wide or my skin has too many blemishes or my boobs are too small.”

Till one day, when I finally realised I was gorgeous (although nothing had really changed) and then there was no stopping me. Now I get by, completely unthreatened by the 20-somethings, totally celebrating the ‘me’ I found. And then it struck me. The day you think you are hot, you truly are.

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