Women will do anything it takes to look beautiful

Published: October 29, 2015

A new study found that minor cosmetic surgeries performed by professional surgeons are very safe and have very low complication rates. PHOTO: REUTERS

“Aap moon haath dho kar fresh ho jayain. Mein chai laati hoon.”

(You can freshen up. I’ll get you some tea.)

The women uttering this on TV mostly look immaculately well put together, French nail tips and blow dry et al. This sentence deserves the award for the most oft-repeated sentence on Pakistani prime time television. But what is amazing is how good most of the women on our prime time television dramas look while working in kitchen all day, if the dramas are to be believed.

Female news persons are also perfectly painted and coiffured, even if not well versed with current affairs. With our cinematography getting better, any wrinkles left over by what is seen as the scourge of nature after the cosmetologist is done with the plumping and filling of that female face is taken care of by excessive photoshopping, softening, blurring and editing with filters.

At every turn of our heads, gigantic billboards with unnaturally thin, undoubtedly beautiful, seductive and pouting women are seen in layers of fabric.

No one has issues with women looking beautiful. But where is the real woman behind the crutches of exaggerated beautification? What ideas about womanhood are we being fed? Media is limiting a woman’s role in life to not just being a chaaiwali and a gol-roti-maker, but one who is ravishing, thin, fair and lovely, and therein lies the problem. The collective narrative of Pakistani media and advertising shows a woman primarily as an object pleasing to the eye. That, in turn, effects how young women growing up, and even grown women, see themselves.

A recent move by the beauty from Titanic, Kate Winslet, is making news — the “no photoshop clause” in her contract for appearing in L’Oreal ads. She says this is because successful women have a responsibility to young women growing up. Winslet feels that you are programmed as a young woman to immediately scrutinise yourself about how you look. Earlier, Winslet has expressed her views about how it’s okay not to be able to fit into your jeans as a new mom, and is on record telling her 14-year-old daughter that it was good fortune to have curves.

While Winslet remains very concerned about young women, I worry about women of all ages. The peer pressure is immense. Women peer over each pore, each wrinkle and each stretch mark. They call themselves “fat” even when they are not, and feel guilty every time they have four teaspoons of dessert even though they are at a boot camp for fitness. They obsess over how they look much older than their counterparts of a generation or two ago. Women are exceedingly relying on the Instagram and Retrica filters that get rid of the imperfections in photographs, because societal attitudes eventually catch up to us.

The good side to all this is that women are more conscious of their fitness, and enjoy high energy levels, renewed glow in the skin and the spring in their step that they owe to regular workouts, detox waters and healthier diets. They look good and feel good. And that’s all good.

Yet, beyond a limit, it gets too much. When we say 50 is the new 40 and 40 is the new 30, what happens when we don’t look that way?

Does our self-esteem plummet when we put on a few pounds or suffer from hair loss?

Is getting wrinkles and creases on the forehead the end of life?

Is looking good the biggest part of what defines us? And to what extreme are women willing to go to look beautiful?

It’s great to look and feel beautiful. Yet, that’s not all there is to a woman. A self-assured gait, witty humour, an intelligent conversation, a sincere heart, a kind soul – all this means more to those who know a woman’s worth. They are the ones worth making an effort for, whether it is the man in a woman’s life or a group of friends.

But the deeper issue is how a woman sees herself. For that, it requires constant effort to remind one’s self of the real you. It would be great if media plays a positive role in this regard, and shows more real women as the admirable ones. But eventually, media or society cannot be blamed in entirety. Women themselves need to remind themselves of who they actually are beneath perfectly contoured faces. As mothers, it’s great if our daughters see their mothers well-kept and maintained. But one is an even better role model if daughters see their mothers as women of substance – women who are secure enough to be their own women. For that, women have to do more with their lives than making looking good a full-time job.

Farahnaz Zahidi

Farahnaz Zahidi

Farahnaz is a writer and editor, and has worked as the Features Editor with The Express Tribune. Her focus is human-centric feature stories. She now writes as a freelancer, and works in the field of marketing and corporate communications. She loves literature and traveling. She tweets on @FarahnazZahidi. Her work can be seen at chaaidaani.wordpress.com/

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Parvez

    How can one disagree with that……I suppose it all comes down to how one defines beautiful and the onus falls on the person doing the defining. Plato knew what he was about when he said ‘ Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder ‘.Recommend

  • lathi-charge

    Sure, “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”, but that does not imply that each of us entertains a unique concept of beauty. As various independent studies have clearly demonstrated, most people gravitate to a common perception or ideal of what is generally considered beautiful, and that even being the case across different ethnicities and races.Recommend

  • Parvez

    I think the point is that there is an ‘ outer ‘ beauty and then an ‘ inner ‘ beauty ……the outer one is superficial while the inner one has depth, I hope you get what I’m trying to say.Recommend

  • lathi-charge

    Don’t think Plato was referring to the inner kind…nonetheless, many people find or rather demonstrate by how they actually behave that they consider ‘inner beauty’ overrated. Recommend

  • Parvez

    You certainly don’t give Plato much credit.
    Those who think ‘ inner beauty ‘ is overrated, obviously have a lot to learn.Recommend

  • Gullu

    Nargis, the famous Indian movie star, of yesteryear, was offered
    Hollywood movie roles. Including by Frank Capra, a very famous
    Hollywood director. She turned him down ! So was Madhubala !
    Madhbala’s father said no ! Both, were classic, South Asian beauties.
    Yes. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.Recommend

  • http://rivr.sulekha.com/kk-arora_17586054 satyamhair

    The
    ten patients having gone after the experience we had a complete regrowth
    without any relapse. The study on the effects of garlic
    were about the same, though with more dermatological complications.Recommend

  • lathi-charge

    On that score there is nothing to “learn”. Either one is naturally attuned to what you are alluding to or not.Recommend

  • lathi-charge

    Hollywood movie roles playing what ? Specific character roles or the classic Western divas ? Anyway what you’ve cited are exceptions, not the general rule.Recommend

  • Parvez

    I suppose you’re right……there has to be a distinction between a ‘ shallow ‘ person and a ‘ more mature ‘ one.Recommend

  • Gullu

    You think Nargis and Madhubala would have played the doormats? They would have come up with scripts that gelled
    around a story line…say a modern Maharani, on US tour….
    Indian Embassy girl falls in love, Gregory Peck on a tiger
    hunt in India, Is it getting thru yet? So many scenarios.
    This reverts back to your mindset.
    Priyanka Chopra is playing the lead in current ABC network series. Deepika Padukone turned down Fast and Furious 7
    and the list goes on….Recommend

  • J

    How about standing firm on your convictions?
    Like growing a backbone?Recommend

  • Parvez

    Read my comment again……. I’m being sarcastic but I suppose that flew over your head.Recommend