Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Silent battefields

After my dismal performance in the 12th grade exams, my mom took me to a counselor because I was depressed. During our sessions, the counselor was mostly sympathetic but at times, he also reminded me of the trivial nature of my problems, in the face of the bigger picture. Then, he recommended that I talk to more people, outside my social circle, which at the time consisted of highly competitive eighteen year old kids. My anguish had two layers: the first layer was my disappointment with myself;  the second layer was my anger at God or whatever operating force there was, for making me least successful in the set of around four friends.

Since then, I tried to trivialize my mental blocks and struggles to see if indeed, I was the product of the "rich kid" syndrome. One of the biggest differences I found between developing and developed countries was the nature of emotional struggles of  the people. But over time, I have realized that  trivializing "rich people problems" by placing them against the apparently larger struggles that the less fortunate go through, is not exactly being fair.

One such example, is the issue of female beauty and body image. I read this article in Huff Post on the 24 best moments for women in 2012. Out of those, 3 focus on body image related issues. The most prominent being the war Lady Gaga declared against people of the media who criticized her for her recent weight gain.It also features 12 body image heroes including Adele and Stella Boonshoft, who writes the Body Love Blog. There is of course, Aishwarya Rai, our own body image hero, who walked the red carpet at Cannes gracefully in the face of YouTube videos of her overweight pictures with elephant sounds for background music.

The problem again is two layered. First, it is our own struggle trying to maintain a healthy weight amidst crazy work schedules, motherhood, slowing metabolism and sometimes, just taking it easy for a bit and not hitting the gym. The second layer is always the bench mark we are compared to, or at least women in the entertainment industry are compared to. Sadly, most of the benchmarks here are airbrushed before they are published. You don't even need to be Aishwarya Rai to get criticized for gaining weight. It happens to everyone at some point. What with all the skin lightening creams and diet pills being sold in the market! Every Fair and Lovely advert on T.V gets on my nerves, not just because it tells us that having a darker complexion is an unfortunate predicament, but also the fact that the ads are so well accepted by everyone.

But above all, it is the critic within us that is the harshest. There is a point where we tend to echo what we see around us and what we put up with. Sometimes, the opinion of a few or even a single person matters so much to us,  that we turn blind to ten others who think otherwise. And when one Lady Gaga challenges her fans to fight for a cause, we can see thousands rallying for it. It is important to know our limits and to take care of our bodies with compassion. But it is equally or perhaps more important to surround ourselves with people who do not make us feel ashamed or helpless about something we may not have complete control over. Becoming aware that you are unique and you cannot be a "standard" anything is not easy. And standing up for yourself after that realization is an empowering experience. In the end, it is a silent battlefield but I am sure that it is one of the most significant victories for the woman who goes through it and comes out triumphant.


Rich said...

I liked this post. I am totally with you on the issues you have raised..I myself have strong objection on fairness cream ads. I did tell many of my friends and relatives that it should be banned. I find it racist.

Abhijit Bhave said...

There is no rightness in being beautiful and no wrongness in being ugly. I wish I found the understanding where nothing is right or wrong or good or bad. I wish I were a child again.

Alien said...

Nicely written and I guess its the sane for anybody.. woman or man!!! :)

Alien said...

sorry... i mant same and not sane :)

Saee Keskar said...

@ Alien,
I agree but it is harsher on women. :(