Being a woman

What is like being a woman?

Being a woman is like being under constant pressure of looking beautiful, staying slim all the time, wanting to be tall, having lustrous thick hair, wearing pretty dresses, having waxed -hands and legs and what-not at all times; having blemish-free spotless, glowing skin, perfect red pout, elegant French-manicured hands, dainty feet…

It’s tough guys, it’s not easy. Sometimes it feels like we are pushed into a corner, and we can’t really help. After all, the glamour world and the fashion world have set the benchmarks so high, that we don’t really have a choice; and willingly or unwillingly, we get sucked into this madness.

Do you have any idea how much of our mind space this looking-pretty-staying-thin business takes? How much of our time it takes? How much efforts this costs? How much pain is to be endured? And not to forget, how big a hole this bores into our pockets? And all this for what? To match the high standards of photoshopped pictures and acceptable standards of a ‘desirable woman’? Just imagine how much more productive could we have been, if this place was cleared up for some inspiring and progressive ideas?

We are in 21st century and women have long proved their mettle. We are rubbing shoulders with men at NASA and we are also digging land with the male workers at construction sites. But accept it or not, even to this day, we are first judged on how pretty a picture we cut? Aren’t we? Why are we still so archaic in defining a woman’s beauty or her ‘desirable quotient’? There don’t have to be any standards of how an ideal woman should be like in first place, but if there still are, shouldn’t they at least evolve with time? Shouldn’t the parameters change?  It is rude, superficial and offensive to be always, always, always judged by our looks, beauty, and appearance. Go ahead, deny that. You will deny that, won’t you? But that won’t change the sad reality.

Billions of dollars are spent each year on cosmetic surgeries. That should explain that it’s really happening, right? Behind closed doors? Sometimes with open doors? May be there is a supply and hence there is a demand, or maybe there is demand, hence there is a supply? But there is a demand because there is pressure to fit in, to be accepted, to be liked, and to be considered. Viscous circle.

But we can change things at the grassroots’ level, I feel. Every woman can take charge of herself. Let us not get affected by these picture perfect beauties so much. It’s ok to want to look pretty, it’s ok to care about yourself, it’s ok to spend some time, money and effort on pampering ourselves. BUT IT’S NOT OKAY to let this become an obsession, our sole motto in life. There is more to us than this.

Men can start by being more tolerable about this and by not putting any pressure on their partners, if they are, that is. Don’t expect them to look like super models at all times. If they can manage that with minimalistic time, effort and money, great. Enjoy! But don’t fret if she doesn’t manage to knock-off her post pregnancy weight soon after, like how celebrities do. For celebrities, their bodies are their assets. They have to maintain it. But for a normal woman, there is much more to her.  There is a lot on her plate. More than she can manage. So if she talks about taking the unnatural, surgical route to beauty, please discourage her. Instead encourage her to be healthy. And healthy doesn’t always equals thin.

There is more to a person than looks. Even if that person is a woman.

Behind every successful woman

There is an old Thai saying, “A man is the foreleg of the elephant and the woman the hind leg,” which on translation also means that behind every successful man is a woman.  Yes, we have been hearing this forever now. But what about a successful woman? Who backs up a successful woman?

Not surprisingly, behind every successful woman is also a man…her father, her friend, or her husband. A man who lets her lead, a man who lets her live her dreams, a man who is secured about her position in his life, a man who doesn’t tie her down, a man who understands that she is as alive as he is, that she has her own dreams, priorities and aspirations…and most importantly a man who is so secured and self assured about his own position in her life that he doesn’t feel the need to control or tame her to feel more like a man. He doesn’t need to impose on her to feel the false sense of power. Won’t you agree?

Look at any successful woman around you. No, you don’t have to go too far and look at the intimidating pin-striped-suit wearing women CEOs and MDs. Just look around you; at ordinary woman. Women, who have come a long way from where they started. Yes, those women who work hard to be successful in their own little way, in their own private lives, in their own little careers; be it their business or a job.

Would this have been possible if her father had never let her dream, learn or have thoughts of her own? Would this have been possible if her husband would have discouraged her from working, not believed in her talents and not really thought that she can add value and make a difference?

And just so we are on the topic, let me also add that just allowing your woman to work is not enough. First of all, “I let my wife work,” itself is such a negative sentence.  Who are you to ‘let’ her work? It’s her right anyway.

A man who really wants her wife to work:

  • Lets her decide which career she wants to pursue and not limit her options.
    For eg: I am ok if you work in a bank.  It is a very safe place to work. But working as an art director on a film set??? NO way, that is not possible. That is not safe.

    Meh….now what is that? Please let her decide where she wants to work. Show some trust in her. She is not a child, she can protect herself. You can’t limit her options and lay down few that you think are safe. Please don’t impose on her …let her decide. Because if you are being rigid about where she can work and where she can’t, then again you aren’t being any different from your orthodox forefathers. And if you are being so rigid, then please don’t take that burden of being cool, urban and open-minded husband also. You don’t deserve it.  It’s one thing to worry about her safety and another thing to restrict her mobility in the name of safety.
  • Shares her household responsibilities
    For eg: Dear, why isn’t the dinner ready ?I told you that you can only work if you can manage both home and work without slipping behind on home front, didn’t I?

    Whoa…seems like you are doing her a favour by letting her work. Then I request again please don’t take that pressure of being cool and modern just because you are allowing her to work. Because your behavior, attitude and actions haven’t changed a bit. You are still hung up on your old ways.  Just like you, she has had a hard day at work too. She is human and she can get tired too. Shouldn’t you be helping her in the kitchen instead of just bossing around and barking orders?

  • Understands that her career can also be demanding
    For eg: Have you seen the time? It’s 11 pm. Just because I let you work, doesn’t mean that you come home this late. Our kids and home are a big mess, do you have any idea? 

    No, no, no…I am not exaggerating. I have seen families who behave that way. May be not in the first world countries to that extent, but this sure does happen in many developing countries. Just like you, she has deadlines, she has to deal with work pressure too. She has to face office politics too. Just like you, she can have a longer working day than usual too. If you were truly supporting her career and her progress, you would understand this and probably keep a bowl of hot soup ready when she returns. She would be grateful to know that you love her, support her career, and understand its challenges…you love her and you are concerned about her meals and her health. That is called support.

  • Doesn’t let his family or parents ridicule her career 

    There are still many countries where the extended family also lives together, where the elders (especially men) mock the careers of the ladies, belittle them and ridicule their contribution. In such cases, its up to that good husband who has let his wife work, to also stand up for her in front of his whole family and show trust and confidence in her.

I am not trying to portray men in negative light here. If you thought that even for a second then you totally missed the point, didn’t you? In fact, I am saying that behind every woman who shines bright at her work place, is a wonderful man who loves her, who shares household responsibilities with her, who supports her even if that means going against the whole family, who truly lets her progress rather than just let her have a false sense of satisfaction by only letting her work somewhere he chose. Behind successful woman is that man who keeps his ego at bay, who is not intimidated or bothered even if his wife earns more than him, who is proud of her if she does, who is proud of her even if she doesn’t, who respects her passion and energy, who supports her initiatives in every way possible, who is willing to relocate if she is having a better career between the two rather than ask her to quit.

This blog is for all men in my life …father, brother, friends and now TCG who have supported me no matter what, who have let me have wings, who have stood by me fiercely…even in the face of adversity.

Without support of all you wonderful men, this would never have been possible. I wouldn’t be what I am today. Because you trust me, have faith in me; believe in my abilities, I am able to be more productive at work. And I don’t have to worry about being scolded at or being barked at once I get home. And I am really thankful and grateful for this. (Things I am grateful for: Reason # 4)

 

Is fair so lovely?

This Sunday, perched on the window, sipping a steaming cup of coffee, I was skimming through the Sunday paper. The matrimonial section caught my eye. Believe you me, it’s hugely entertaining to read these ads in the matrimonial section, how people describe the bride/groom they want in as few words as possible and at the same time making sure it packs the necessary punch. And below is what I read:

  • Wanted a fair, slim and beautiful girl, educated and homely for our fair and handsome son, age 29.
  • Well educated boy belonging to a rich family with established business seeks alliance from a fair, attractive and modern girl
  • Mumbai based girl, 5’4”, very fair and beautiful, working with a leading bank looks for a US-based educated and good looking boy from a Vaishnav family
  • Bais Rajput, Pune, age 30, 5’8” journalist, 6 lacs p.a seeks a fair graduate girl. Contact..

And boy, was I surprised to read these things!

We might be in the 21st century, where a Sunita Williams is making space journeys and where a Chanda Kocchar is heading the biggest bank in the country but the ground reality is that nothing has changed really. There might be a constant backlash in some elite, progressive Indian circles about the obsession over the colour of skin. But a vast majority, if not openly then secretly, believes that white is beautiful. These seemingly innocuous ads are at their offensive best. While it’s understandable to want a cultured and attractive girl for marriage (to each his own, we are not being moral police here), what is really contemptuous is the fact that being fair is higher on the priority scale for many amongst us than being educated, skillful or interesting. It is as if, all my talents and achievements come to naught if I am not milk-white.

Then yesterday, while I was randomly surfing through the channels, the above theory was reconfirmed. I couldn’t help but notice the kind of advertisements bombarding our idiot box at prime time. Across the channels, all I could really see was advertisements for shampoos (promising me gorgeous mane so that I can impress that boy I am crushing on and who is oblivious to my existence), soaps (promising me fair, beautiful and fragrant skin so that I can impress that boy I am crushing on and who is oblivious to my existence), deodorants (promising me fragrant underarms so that I can seduce that guy I am crushing on and who is oblivious to my existence) and yes you guessed it right – fairness creams ( promising me milk white complexion so that I can impress that guy I am crushing on and who is oblivious to my existence). Ya ya.. I know you get the drift.

After a point my mind became so numb with overload of information about various creams that I couldn’t distinguish one from another. One cream urged me to look beautiful (read milk white) so that I can increase my chances of finding a better prospect, one threatened me to start using that cream with anti aging properties asap, lest it will be too late for repairs later. One cream also came with a fairness barometer that could measure my improving complexion through 7 days. And voila, at the end of 7 days (only if I apply it regularly twice a day), I will be Ms. Snowwhite. Even if I was chocolate brown before. The before-after transition is unbelievable. Now, do they really expect us to be so dumb to believe that? Apparently yes, if the sales figures of these creams are anything to go by.

Does the fairness cream actually hold the potential to change my fortune? Will the colour of my skin alone determine how successful I become in life? And hello, what is the definition of success? According to all these ads, success is met when I get to be with or marry that eligible guy because I am oh-so-fair now. So that’s about how much a girl can dream of. Looking fair and beautiful and landing an eligible guy is THE goal of her life. Career, passion, dreams, ambition are not for the fairer sex.

Our obsession with fair skin is deep rooted. The way our Gods and Goddesses are portrayed (white and radiant) has led us to believe that white-skin is superior. Also the fact that we were ruled by white skinned British for more than 2 centuries and who tried to establish their superiority over us reaffirmed our belief that white is uber beautiful.

To have a preference of skin colour to marry someone sounds disrespectful but it is still digestible (to each his own). But to let the skin colour be the only deciding criteria is downright hideous.

Here are a few pictures for a good laugh: (Courtesy Google)

That 7-day transition i was talking about

even, Obama -President of the biggest Superpower, is not
good enough if he is not fair

The captions say it all

Why should Girls have all the fun?

 

Okay, so you get what i am trying to say, right? I would love to see your comments and even interesting stories, if you have witnessed any around yourself. About fairness creams of course.