A freshly washed face, concealed with compact or foundation; a blush to lift up those cheek bones; a lipstick to highlight the shape of the lips and possibly make it look bigger or smaller; eyeliner applied to highlight the eyes and also covered with eye shadow in the background; preferably with a colour that matches the outfit; eyelash extensions or eyelashes covered with volume enhancing mascara, hair straightened/curled and sprayed so it stays still; nails done with polish again preferably matching the outfit; armpits and legs shaved and free from even a speck of body hair;  high heels to look taller. When I mentioned all this, what was the first thing that came to your mind? If you thought of the modern girls/ladies, then you are right and wrong. You are right because that is how they are generally addressed but wrong because that is not really what modern means.

When I head out, let’s say for a walk with my wee one, I usually have my hair tied up and as it can be quite fuzzy, it would puff up as time goes by, my face may be coated with moisturizer if I did not manage to dab some oil on it, my lips may be lined with Vaseline at best as they tend to crack and bleed, I wear flat shoes that enable me maintain a good posture when I walk and of course let me run behind my wee one if need be. However, in this ‘modern’ world, some think I have a sad life because I have not had the time/energy/means to make up my face. So, who defines what I or any modern girl should look like?

There are a number of things I have wondered when it comes to the unwritten rules around how a woman should ‘carry’ herself. The rule around women having to shave their underarms and legs to wear a swim suit for a start makes me wonder why only women have to do it while in general men tend to be more hairy than women. It is known that be it waxing or shaving or anything else, damages the skin and especially in sensitive areas. So why is the damage sought after? I heard some cultures do not shave underarms as it helps keep bad odour at bay and also not give the sweat marks on the outfit. The next one is around trimming/shaping eyebrows and removing ‘unwanted’ facial hair. Man is it painful to get rid of those teeny tiny hair strands? At least I find it quite painful and honestly, when it comes to facial hair, I think its looks even worse when it is growing back (when it is neither fully grown for you to cut again) as it grows so non-uniformly and you end up grooming it everyday.

The next one is the art of making up one’s face. It is not like I have never made up my face in my life. I did it for my wedding reception (and my husband still says it was bad idea) and did a wee bit for my brother’s wedding and there was a reason for the latter. I had to divert some attention paid by my relatives to the fact that I still carried some baby weight as my wee one was only a few months old then. I watched an Indian program on the tele about how there is still a taboo around women who use make-up and take lot of effort making up their face. People in support of make-up said it was their will to do what they want with themselves while the anti-make up squad said things like time, money and energy could be better spent and that attracting unwanted attention by making up could be dangerous and I would not say that is wrong because there is a lot of sexual abuse going on. There is no doubt that every person has the right to do what they prefer to do and I think it is okay if that is what they want. The trouble comes when one is knowingly or unknowingly pressurized to be what they are not naturally. There have been so many ‘developments’ in the cosmetic industry that you get a mind blowing number of products which promise to do a variety of things. From fairness products to ones that will make your blemishes disappear in a day, you name it and of course pay for it, you have it. What goes into them, only the manufacturers will know and though I am reasonably well educated, the list of ingredients specified in the case goes over my head. All I could see was that they have so many chemicals in them and by applying them, we force them into our skin and not let our skin even breathe naturally. We all fear about rising levels of cancer in this ‘modern age’ and wonder why it is happening but forget all the things we are doing different to what our ancestors did. My grandmother’s definition of being presentable was washing her face, if needed apply oil prior to washing, drying it, applying a bindi (usually using vermilion), applying home made eye liner at the bottom eye lid, oiling her hair, combing it and tying it back or platting it. The face wash typically used was besan (chickpea flour) as it is a natural scrub and was usually mixed with turmeric as it has anti-septic properties; the vermilion was usually prepared in a temple from chunks of turmeric; the eye liner was prepared at home using a specific kind of leaves and almond and they are believed to cool the eyes; oiling the hair helped it stay nourished, keep the body cool and also acted as a binding agent so hair did not become fuzzy; also tying it back or platting also usually meant there was little chance of stray hair falling off the head into the food being prepared (hygiene you see). They all looked pretty even in their 70s and 80s.

Wearing heels to make ourselves look tall is another unwritten rule that I cannot understand where it came from. I heard a fashion designer saying that it is wrong to wear something flat with a long skirt or Saree and I was like what is there to be ‘wrong’ with this? Research has shown how high heels could affect the backbone and medically it is not really ideal. Yet we wonder why granny did not have back problem while we have even in our 30s. The truth is that no one can change how tall one is, one has to live with their length, whether they like it or not. As far as I know, even plastic surgery cannot help one get to the ‘ideal’ height, so why not come to terms with it and stay fit?

It took me several years and by that I mean almost my lifetime until now, to decide to let go of my natural hair length (which was down to my bum) and cut it short simply because I could not care for it anymore. As a child, my mother and grandmother took great care of my hair. Every Saturday there would be an elaborate oiling session followed by washing using homemade herbal powder and then drying using smoke generated by burning coal and putting some very fragrance rich stuff in it. Even that smoke would impart a lovely smell to the hair. There would be a lot of care taken to ensure the heat is not too much as it may damage the hair. However, moving on, I could not stick to the good practice and had to buy a hair dryer. Honestly, if it was not for my constantly congested sinuses, I would not bother with a dryer as towel drying itself is enough. Unlike granny’s coal hair drying mechanism, the blow dryer leaves my hair all fuzzy and I can feel the heat in my ear lobes and that makes me think how hot my hair must be getting. At this rate, I may not have to bother cutting it few years down the line as it may not even bother growing. Anyway, the point is that, I had to come to terms with the fact that there is only so much of it I can manage sticking to as natural as possible ways so just cut it to that level.

I am not against adopting new technologies or developments and preach old methods which may not be practical now given the pace at which we live and also the fact that we did not preserve all the knowledge that our ancestors acquired. However, all I want to say is there is nothing wrong with being natural. It should not be a struggle for us to accept something in its natural form. I know we have imposed ridiculous rules on even vegetables and fruits like tomatoes must be of this diameter, carrots of this length etc. but the fact is, they cannot be programmed and a crooked carrot and slightly large tomato will just as good as their pretty looking counterparts. Beneath all the layers of make-up, we know that who we look at in the mirror, is not the real self and going one step further, philosophically, what you look at in the mirror is merely an outfit for the underlying soul. There is nothing wrong in leaving it the way it is. There is nothing called ugly or beautiful in nature, every creation has a purpose and there is no point in us spending so much time in our day to be the person that we are not. If making up is something you chose to do, then obviously it is your preference however, do not succumb to peer pressure or pressure from this ‘society’. I am a modern woman who juggles family, home and work and has an open mind about things, god fearing and respectful of others and that to me is being modern. Modern does not mean you blindly follow what others are doing but being able to think and acting according to one’s discretion. In my culture, it is said that babies should not be allowed to look at mirrors until a certain age (one I think) and the reason is that the overall development of the baby, physical and mental is more important and the idea of how they look should not get into their mind. It may sound lame for some people but I think it is important for kids to understand that they should try to be who they really are, respect and appreciate others for what they are and not for what they are pretending to be. Be proud of who you really are and people will naturally start liking you. It is the beauty of your soul/mind that reflects in your face.

The Author:

I am Veena, an engineer by education. I am a mother and a wife and run my household.

Photo Credit: Posterize

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

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