Thursday, June 13, 2013

Day 13 - Body Beautiful

When I was trying to understand the source of the pain in my foot, I did a bit of reading on the structure of the human foot.  I was highly impressed.  What a marvellous feat of engineering! (Yes, I'm talking about the foot.)  Its structure, flexibility, its ability to bear so much weight - it is nothing short of wonderful.   And it got me thinking.  How often do we look at our feet and whine about their ugliness, or about how tanned they are, or how misshapen our toes are or how wide our feet are, and all along, the foot  is an elegant body part that does so much work for us.

But that holds good for everything - we are the result of thousands of parts of our body working well in tandem - our stomach, our heart, our kidneys, lungs,  intestines, little glands that we haven't heard of but are vital to our well-being, our brain (Our brain!  I've been reading VS  Ramachandran's "The Tell-tale Brain" and it makes mysteries and thrillers fade in comparison.)  - so many beautiful parts in  perfect harmony.

This magnificent body of ours, working so hard, and so smoothly, to enable us to - whine about how ugly that very body is!

Ridiculous, or what?

Hair too dry, nose too blunt, eyes too wide, skin too dark, legs too fat, lips too thin, breasts too small, teeth too crooked, tummy too flabby - all we can think of is what's on the outside, and we feel inadequate.   Why?  Because we are aiming for a standard of beauty that is never within reach.  Never within anybody's reach.   Movie stars, who are supposedly supremely beautiful, go in for nose jobs and chin reconstructions and tummy tucks - what does that show?  Nobody can truly be happy with whatever they look like, if they try to strive for some silly standard of beauty!  Such a waste of time and energy!

But that is not all!  We transfer that feeling of inadequacy to our children too!  Look at this beautiful letter a daughter writes to her mom.  Heartbreaking.  But that story is playing out in millions of homes all over the world even now.  

What do I hear you say?  That even if we don't give our children these wrong ideas of beauty, they will get it from outside anyway?  From peers, and from the media?  Yes, they will.  It is inevitable.  But if you inculcate into them a healthy sense of respect for their bodies,  maybe they will be grounded enough not to be too swayed by those images that the media thrusts at them.  Just maybe. Worth a shot, right?  If we start throwing at them false notions of beauty right from childhood, then the poor things don't have a chance at all. 

But I know, easier said then done.  I'll finish writing this, get up, catch a look at myself in the mirror and cringe at how frizzy my hair is.  That's called social conditioning.(and the lack of hair conditioning, in this case.)   Who said that frizzy hair is ugly?  Why is it supposed to be ugly?  That's what I am trying to get at.

Trying to look beyond all these notions of beauty is hard, but we can do it.  It is just not worth the agonies that women, and even men, go through every day.  And more importantly, we owe it to our children.  Let them, at least, grow up free from the constricts of these silly notions of beauty!


Snigdha said...

Hi surthi,
I have been reading your blog since last 5/6 years I guess. you have a beautiful blog. About the foot pain you said, I am also having a pain under the foot. It is really painful after just waking up in the morning. And after few steps it becomes bearable. I consulted a doc and he suggested to change my sandals to doctor soles... I was never a high heel kind of lady... always went for flats and since few years wearing kittos. Even after changing the sandals to doctor soles, the pain is not subsiding. I am also having some medicines prescribed by the doctor,nut somehow, the pain is not subsiding. Are you going through some special kind of footwear? any special excercise or something?

Radhika said...

Shruthi, Ananya has a similar lesson in her Science book where each part of the body was appreciated for its usefulness. So it was fun talking about the lesson with reference to your blog post.

Manish'sMom said...

What a beautiful post Shruthi! Brilliantly written and absolutely relevant in our celebrity beauty obsessed times. All the more poignant because a 21 year old niece of a friend committed suicide because she was getting rejected by potential grooms for being over weight! She was under intense pressure by her parents to lose weight. Just imagine! What a waste of a human life! What must have this young nubile girl gone through to come to this terrible conclusion? Heartbreaking!

Shruthi said...

Snigdha, I couldn't find your email id anywhere on your profile. Will you mail me on the email on my blog? I'll tell you all the details.

Radhika, good to hear that kids have lessons like that!

Manish's Mom, what a terrible tragedy! And how terrible is this society that thinks that getting married is the one and only goal for women! Paaaapa my heart goes out to that girl.

Anonymous said...

Came across this and was immediately reminded of your post.


Manish'sMom said...

Shruthi, the so called "tall-fair-beautiful-homely-cultured-educated bride only needed" stigma that is so prevalent in our society that puts so much emphasis on physical perfection. A girl is doomed or cannot "settle down" (have never understood what that word means)if she is not fair, thin and beautiful. This puts so much pressure on these girls to conform to some weird standard of perfection. Sad isn't it that we have not really progressed as a society?

Veena Shivanna said...

ತುಂಬಾ ಅರ್ಥ ಗರ್ಭಿತ ವಾಗಿದೆ ಶ್ರುತಿ. ಮಕ್ಕಳನ್ನು ನೀನು ಮಾತು ನಿನ್ನ ಸೌಂದರ್ಯ ದ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಮಾತಾಡಿದಾಗ ಅವರಿಗೆ ಸಂತೋಷದ ಜೊತೆ confidence ಕೂಡ ಬರತ್ತೆ. ಕನ್ನಡಿ ಮುಂದೆ ನಿಂತು ನಮ್ಮನ್ನು ನೋಡಿದಾಗ ಮನಸಿಗೆ ಬರುವ ಭಾವನೆ ಗಳೆಷ್ಟೋ .. ನಮ್ಮ ಭಾರತೀಯ ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತಿ ಯಲ್ಲಿ ಇದೊಂದು ಬೇಸರದ ಸಂಗತಿ.. ಮದುವೆ ಮಾಡು ವಾಗ (arranged) ಮಾತ್ರ ಹೆಣ್ಣು ಗಂಡು ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿರಬೇಕು ಸುಂದರವಾಗಿರ ಬೇಕು ಅನ್ನೋ ಡಿಮ್ಯಾಂಡ್ ಗಳು ಅಸಹ್ಯ ಹುಟ್ಟಿಸುತ್ತೆ. ಆಂತರಿಕ ಸೌಂದರ್ಯ ದ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಕೂಡ ಮಕ್ಕಳಿಗೆ ಅರಿವು ಮೂಡಿಸಬೇಕು.. ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ಯಾರೋ ಹೇಳಿದ್ದು - ಬ್ಯೂಟಿ ಇಸ್ ಇನ್ ದಿ ಐಸ್ ಆಫ್ ಬಿ ಹೋಲ್ಡರ್ ಅಂತ.. ಬಹಳ ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿ ಬರೆದಿದ್ದೀರಿ..

austere said...

Frizzy hair is NICE.
And I like my trademark nose. :)

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