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     Volume 7 Issue 1 | January 4, 2008 |

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Beauty Hurts, Most of the Time

Srabonti Narmeen Ali

It's hard being a woman. Aside from the usual stress of being the supposed weaker sex and having to deal with all sorts of prejudice in every possible social setting, we women, on top of everything else, have to spend hours (days even) worrying and obsessing about our appearances.

High heels or torture contraptions?

There are, of course, women out there who are, in their own words, 'enlightened,' thereby not conforming to society's guidebook on how a woman should look, but it has to be said that these women sport extremely thick skins, thereby not caring what other people think -- a luxury that most women wish they possessed, but do not.

Men don't understand what we mean when we complain about having to look good. 'How hard can it be,' they stupidly claim, not even understanding one fifth of what we go through. I would just love to see how they would survive one day in the beauty parlour. They think it is all fun and relaxation. Never will they feel the pain of getting their legs waxed -- you know, the sensation which feels like your skin is being ripped off? Or the irritating, sharp pains that seem to go right through your skull when your eyebrows are being threaded. What about a facial? Most men think that that should be a really relaxing experience--uh yeah, it's really fun when someone is (literally) poking at your blackheads. Not that I hate going to the beauty parlour -- don't get me wrong, it does have its many perks, but the very thought of men suffering from the misconception that women go to the parlour for 'frivolity' is just insane. Trust me, there is nothing frivolous about a make-over and men, who have a lower pain threshold than women, would not last a day in our six-inch stiletto shoes.

Speaking of six-inch stilettos, I found myself in a pair of gold ones the other day. I was going to a wedding, wearing a very heavy sari, and even heavier jewellery -- you know the kind that pulls down on your ears and removes all the blood from your brain, resulting in you feeling light-headed all evening? The wedding was, unfortunately in an open area so I embarrassed myself and everyone who knew me by tripping all over the place in my not-so-glamorous-anymore shoes. By the end of the evening, my sari was completely creased, my ears were bleeding, I had a severe migraine and my feet were sorely bruised. Oh and by the way, I had starved myself for two days so I could fit into the blouse that had been getting a little TOO tight for wedding season, so on top of all this, I was hungry as well.

The fashion world dictates cruel standards for women

Why do I do this to myself you ask? I cannot feign ignorance and claim that I did not know all these things would happen. I knew exactly what I was doing and therefore, the only person I should blame is myself. Right? Almost.

The unfortunate and sad fact is that the media has a huge impact on how we choose to perceive ourselves. As much as we hate to admit it, most women do look at the beautiful girls on the covers of magazine and convince themselves that this is the standard that needs to be attained. No matter that half these girls are either silicon junkies (overdosing on different types of plastic surgery), or drug addicts (overdosing on drugs that make you thinner). No matter! As long as they are thin.

Because we covet their anorexic bodies, we also convince ourselves that the clothes they wear -- the mini jackets that don't cover one-tenth of their bodies in the freezing cold, the high heeled shoes that should actually be used as weapons of mass destruction or the tight jeans or blouse that you can't breathe in -- these are all things that every girl needs to wear.

And contrary to popular belief women actually do not dress up for men. They usually dress up to feel good about themselves and more importantly, to impress other women --because nothing compares to the scorn and ridicule of another woman. The sad reality is that women are constantly competing with one another -- whose outfit is cuter, whose make-up is more dramatic, whose shoes are more expensive -- the list is never-ending. Most of them do not care that by the end of the evening, their skin is completely clogged up by layers and layers of foundation and shimmer, which will result in a huge break out in the next week; or the fact that their feet will ache for the next three days and they will have to nurse a couple of blisters, or even that they might catch pneumonia wearing that risqué blouse in freezing cold weather (the only weapon women usually have against the cold weather is a puny shawl which they NEVER use to cover up their shoulders or neck).

It's easy to blame men and say that it's all their fault for doing this to us. In some ways, it's true. I mean even in the case of metrosexual men, it's not like they are ever half as uncomfortable as we are. Their formal wear includes a jacket which shields them from the cold. Their shoes are (almost always) flat and their accessories usually do not weigh more than their outfit. At the same time, however, one must give the media credit for implying that all those bigger than a size zero are fat cows, and sexy, fashionable women are, as a rule, impractically and uncomfortably dressed. I suppose it's just one of those mysteries that come back to haunt me over and over again. Especially when I go to the parlour for a wax.


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