When I was writing earlier for the Wednesday Prompt of Write Tribe (a fantastic community of brilliant writers there!) it got me thinking about our set notions of beautiful. What is beautiful, anyway? While Indians are so obsessed with fairness creams, and fairness treatments with fairness face wash, soaps, moisturizers and not to mention cold creams too, the ones on the other side of the globe are doing everything to put a little color in their face.
I’ll admit, for the longest time I was obsessed with getting thin. Who wouldn’t be? Media bombards you with images of super thin, anorexic, and most probably bulimic girls as the epitome of beauty! I did so many things… crash diets, regular diets, walks, giving up of sugar, giving up of my favorite foods, gymming my ass into oblivion. I did manage to shave off a few millimeters here and there, but they came back manifold once I was off the diet. Why did I go off the diet? Because they were impossible! You can’t eat boiled sprouts for every meal for every day of your life! Plus, I have to have my chocolates, and my muffins, and my desserts. Oh, oh, not to mention.. tea! I wish I could build a temple for the tea Gods. Which brings me to the photograph of today.
These women can be usually found entertaining their clientele in… teahouses. Yep. I am talking about the very fascinating Geisha!
As it is, I do believe that black and white pictures bring out emotions much better than color pictures. There is a magical dreamlike quality about black and white pictures. Dreams are black and white. Think about it. Do you ever dream in technicolor? Coming back to the photograph, the Geisha featured here is beautiful, not because of her make-up or her elaborately done hair. She is beautiful by the virtue of her being. Her whole stance speaks of poise, while there is deep sorrow in her eyes.
The make up of a Geisha is a ritual in itself. It has to be done perfectly for fear of ruining it, because once ruined, the whole process has to be repeated from scratch. They cover their faces with stark white foundation (rice powder in the olden days) applied with a brush. They practically wipe all their features except for a thin line of bare skin near the hair line and a W shaped patch at the nape of their neck. The eyes are lined with black eyeliner with red accents (in case of an apprentice) and a more subtle color in case of an older “experienced” Geisha. They do not cover their whole lips with color, because the white foundation makes the natural shape of the lips appear too large. So a small lip line is drawn within the natural lip line, and is colored with a red color and coated with crystalline sugar for that extra glossy finish.
If you ask me, the beauty of a Geisha lies not in her make up, but in her. Her being. Her self. The way she carries herself. Geisha is usually a person accomplished in some form of art, including singing, dancing, calligraphy or even writing poetry! Talk about genius! My point comes through if you see the image of a Geisha above.
Isn’t it the same with the models and actresses who appear in commercials? Why actresses, even actors and male models are getting their images “enhanced”. A little photoshop to rid the under eye bags, a little skewing to thin a suddenly fat actress! Bringing on the “glow”. Take a closer look at any cosmetic ads. Now take a look at a woman next to you. Or perhaps even yourself in the mirror. Forget the fine lines, but there are certain lines on the face which seem to define where the cheeks and and chin begin… there are certain acceptable shadows under the eyes… right? Now look at the commercial again. The skin is as plain as a cheese slice! How did that happen? Think about it.
Suddenly paunches disappear to reveal perfectly carved toned abs! The hair is volumized, the eyes are made to appear bigger or more catty. And this… after a heavy dose of skin treatments, and make up!
Who says Geisha are seen only in Japan? We have these brilliant made-up and photoshopped, masked men and women, out here to entertain us. While the Geisha performed “other” services as well, these men and women too have bared all and left nothing to anyone’s imagination.
Sadly, we have started believing that the mask is real. The mask isn’t real. Take a look at the person in your mirror. This person is real. This person is the real beauty.
Which is why, I have given up trying to lose weight. I am comfortable in my body now. I have completely accepted myself the way I am, and no longer wince at the reflection. I look in the mirror and celebrate every imperfection as a form of beauty.
If you have read this post, and have now or ever before had even the slightest question in your mind about your own beauty, do me a small favor.
Go look in the mirror now. Let go of your “unrealistic expectation” glasses. And tell yourself, “I AM BEAUTIFUL”.
Eagerly waiting for your tweets. 🙂