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The search for beauty
What lies underneath

Suraiya, a 16-year-old girl, spends a hefty portion of her father's salary on her looks. She goes to beauty parlors every other week, her aim being to look as identical to her favorite Indian soap actress as possible. She feels it is absolutely necessary for her to try out the newest diet plan, buy the latest cosmetic products, jewelry and clothes, all according to her favorite beauty magazines. But despite the amount of time, effort and financial means spent by her to look pretty, Suraiya is still dissatisfied with the way she looks. She complains " I don't think I'm thin enough, and my hair doesn't have the right color or texture, and I wish my lips were fuller and…" The list goes on and on. Suraiya's friend, Nadia pipes up " I want to look like Jennifer Lopez" and further explains the chemical procedure she underwent to make her hair like Jennifer's. Nadia is also looking forward to piercing her belly button. Just like Suraiya, Nadia is not happy with her appearance, and gave us a long list of changes she'd like to make. Reading between the lines, only one word comes to mind, INSECURE. Insecurity is something that has plagued innumerable teenage girls; most girls nowadays have little or no self-esteem, self-confidence whatsoever.

It is very rare to find a girl who can say that she is content with the way she appears. But where exactly does this problem arise from? Well, everyday we are exposed to images of "perfect" looking beings created by the media: in magazines, television, etc. There are many that desperately wish to look like them, and there are also those who would go to great lengths to do so, for example, plastic surgery is becoming an increasingly popular method of changing features. The impact these images have on girls is damaging. The fact that people actually feel ugly compared to what they see and become increasingly dissatisfied with themselves is very disturbing indeed. There are so many girls, just like Suraiya, who see themselves as nothing but potential customers for cosmetic products that attempt to make them look like the supermodels they see on fashion TV. The standards girls create for themselves are simply impossible. It is so difficult to not be disturbed by seeing preteens trying to recreate the pictures they see in magazines.

Its quite often we come across girls like Nadia who practically idolise their favorite television personalities, it becomes an obsession to reproduce the images they see on television and magazines. It is quite obvious that Nadia's mind is perpetually preoccupied by the way she should looks, and no matter how much she manipulates her appearance, she is still "not good enough", as she is not a carbon copy of her favorite film star. I remember this one girl, who was so "inspired" by this picture of a model she saw in a magazine, she began getting contact lenses of a similar eye color, even bleaching her face to get the right complexion. No matter what she did to herself, she would incessantly complain about looking ugly. It amazed me to see how obsessed she actually was. It is sad to see so many girls view themselves, even without realizing, as nothing but superficial objects.

In fact, numerous girls are driven to disorders like bulimia, obsessive compulsive disorder and anorexia as a result of their unwavering ambitions to look 'flawless', but what else can we expect? From very young ages, girls grow up playing with Barbie dolls with unattainable proportions, and thus form a very warped image of what 'ideal' beauty should be. Since it's practically impossible to achieve that kind of ideal, the girls end up with deflated self-images.

Moreover, girls have been virtually deprived of true role models, those who have more to them than superficial factors. The so-called "role models" we are exposed to, what they lack in substance and personality, they make up in glibness. To make things worse, there are beauty pageants; the effects these events have on the minds of insecure young girls are quite apparent. They give one the impression that beauty is the ticket to fame and success, and unless they look according to what magazines say they should look like, life presents very little opportunities. Of course, who can blame them for thinking that way for there is obvious bias towards externalities on the part of society in general. There is hardly any doubt that society is superficial.

There are quite a few to gain from teenage girls' liabilities to be extremely conscious about their looks, to name the obvious: cosmetic companies, beauty parlors, etc. Young girls pose a very big market for advertisers, it is very easy to make them overestimate the importance of superficialities, especially with commercials that try to say "If you're dark-skinned, you cant get a job" or " If you're not beautiful, you're unlovable". Of course, though such commercials have no practical application and lack relevance, it is very easy for people to feel bad about themselves, and their self-esteem is totally eradicated. These commercials are quite willing to compromise whatever self-respect a person has to promote their products. The way so many flock to their nearest supermarket to purchase the newest fairness cream in the delusion that it will transform them into deities is ridiculous.

What I am about to say is very cliched but I shall continue anyhow: Beauty is nothing superficial, it is totally radiated from within, anyone who is willing to compromise depth and character for unnecessarily excessive make up is under a very false impression. We should not compare our own appearances with that of others, as the beauty every individual possesses is unique. It is very easy to underestimate your own beauty, and overestimate someone else's. It is not right to try to manipulate our looks beyond our limits, as beauty is at its optimum when it is natural. It is very important to be content with ourselves, to not try to be something we are not, in that way, we are all beautiful.

By Bushra Sameeha Anwar

Going undercover: behind “Diwali”

Diwali- the Indian festival of light and darkness, held in honor of the goddess Lakshmi has long held a mystical sense of wonder for me. Often associated with explosives, bombs and fantastic array of sweets- Diwali seems to be the festival, which offers all- excitement, food, and fun. However the festival is jealously guarded by the Indian community- and unless you happen to know a Hindu person, you cannot gain access to it. However, meet Chukku- or Bubbly as he is called, an average guy who has a 300 in Physics. A diwali pary was being held his house and I was invited…yay! Before going there, Chukku specifically warned me “Dost, be careful of the dress code, and don't you dare write about what you see!”

Speeches like this sets the pulse racing for any wannabe journalism. What will he reveal? Do I listen to what Chukku told me? Nah…who cares?.

“The dress code”…whatever Chukku meant was important. I had to show my respect to their custom and beliefs. At least so I thought. That's why I actually went out the day before and bought me a snazzy yellow shirt, a pair of formal trousers and borrowed my dad's black business shoes. (Like every other uninformed dolt, I thought Hindus have a thing for yellow) However, upon going there I was completely befuddled. Everyone was wearing…normal clothes. Somebody actually came in wearing nylon shorts and a wrinkled blue shirt. So much for respecting “da custom”… At least they weren't looking like as if they had walked into a corporate board meeting.

The festival was certainly colorful. Starting from the stairs, the entire house was covered with little candles and marigolds. When I entered, the house was shrouded with a thick whitish smoke, which smelled funny. It turned out to be some kind of incense stick used for the ceremonies.

The next hour was pretty…interesting. I was locked in Chukku's room while he and his family prayed. After about an hour of sitting and talking about virtually nothing at all…we come to the exploding!

9:00 PM BURN 'EM ALL!! BLOW 'EM TO SMITHEREENS!! (aah…the fireworks that is)
Here is where things got real interesting. However when I first saw 'the heap' I was kind of disappointed. They hadn't smuggled in explosives after all, not even potkas. However there were a lot of fireworks, a lot of fireworks. For those interested, the name of the company which manufactures the fireworks is “Makhanaya Diva Faboluso Explosives”. Hmm…maybe they did smuggle it…or maybe I've been reading too much of “Week in Re(ar)view”. (See page 2 for details).

There were several kinds of fireworks starting from the 'fountain', which shoots up to 10 feet in the air and erupts to emit showers of sparks, to the “Roman candles” which whirl around, showering sparks everywhere. They called this one the ghurni. Then there were the sparklers; the closest thing you will see to magic wands. Remember the Expeliarmus spell in Harry Potter? Incant it and the wand emits sparks? Yeah, this was exactly the same. You ignite the tip of the stick and fiery sparks come shooting out! Let me tell you, this stuff was great! you can literally chase someone around holding this thing in your hand! Chukku said that the more powerful ones actually could shoot fireballs over a range! A bit dangerous, but how awesome is that? There was also this small sizzling stick- roughly about the size of the finger, whose main purpose was to glow real bright…Everyone can hold a few of them in both hands and just stand in the dark. Pretty stupid thing to do- actually but looks real nice!

What do we do with fireworks? We explode them, what else? Oh…and just for mentioning, when we ran out of fireworks and we still had the 'thirst' in us, we basically burned the boxes, made a tiny bonfire, stood around it…and um…sang Backstreet Boys and Birodh songs.

By this time, every one was hungry. I had heard legends about how good the Diwali food is. Personally, I couldn't imagine any feast without meat to be 'great' and edible. Come on! How can you eat if you don't have meat? Apparently, though, Hindu people have done this for centuries. And I was about to find out how.

The table…was full. I never thought they could make so much stuff with only vegetables. Apparently they do, and they taste great! There was no 'rice' or 'polaw' or anything, but the staple was 'puris', which when compared to our traditional dal puris, were absolutely marvelous! I think I will never like the taste of Dal Puris after this! They had about 7 different curries, 5 different pickles, some weird potato chip-like thingy, 'papads', fried cauliflowers, some kind of plum-curry, bean-pulses, daal paneer, sweets embedded in white curd….etc I don't know the names of half the dishes, what they were called, or as a matter of fact, what I was eating…but everything tasted fabulous! Like a swarm of locust we devoured it. For those of you who know me, I ate 9 puris. 9 puris! Me! That would give you a good indication how good the food was.

Enough writing today…got to sleep. Well, that about sums up my Diwali experience, I don't how to end the article, so I guess I will leave you with a little joke:
What do you call a band formed by 3 politicians?
- AN Mp3!!

By Rezwan Khan

Visitbangla.com eyes on Bangladesh

It started off with Likhan bhai, an older friend of ours, talked about the need for a web-site to promote tourism in Bangladesh. Sajid, Rifat, and I (all of us ninth-graders at the Aga Khan School) decided to join him in this noble venture, and thus visitbangla was born.

After 2 months of writing the content and designing the layout, visitbangla.com is finally ready to…err, be visited?

The site is as comprehensive as four people could possibly make it. It contains a lot of information. The Meet Bangladesh section offers general information on the country. The major tourist spots are categorised under Historical, Archaeological etc sections under each Division. The Tourist's Toolkit has all a tourist needs - Food, entertainment, shopping, coach services, embassies, tour operators etc. One thing that is very unique about our site is that we also included all the Districts of each

Division, along with their individual information. That's something I'm sure no other site has given before and we are also planning to include the thana's of the districts too. Now that's a lot of information. All the information is also backed up by high-quality pictures and images that underwent a thorough screening process before we finally selected them.

As it is a work in progress you can expect moreimprovements/additions/enhancements. One addition you can count on seeing soon is our new Bangladesh forum VisitBangla.com/board.

Future plans include shareware/information from the Parjatan Corporation and relate them to our site. We also want to advertise for our sites in other sites like amadergaan, webbangladesh, bangladesh info, bdjobs and maybe even Google Adsense. That's all in the future now, but we hope that readers will take a peek at our site and spread the word.

The VisitBangla.com Team
Iftekhar - web designing, php/html programming, site administration, advertising
Sajid - content writer, editor, board management
Rifat - major content writer, board management

By Iftekhar

Rs hangout

Nemesis rocks grill and chill

Local teen hangout, Grill and Chill held its annual Eid warm up and mega draw fest on the second of November.

The occasion was marked by a number of events that included a live unplugged performance from popular local band Nemesis and an attractive raffle draw.

The small interior of Grill and Chill, was packed to the rafters as the crowds poured in with nearly a couple of hundred people on display.

The biggest attraction was without a doubt Nemesis. The upcoming band, who have just released their maiden album, made a two and half hour appearance and for the last ninety minutes performed only requests from the audience.

The raffle draw also drew in the crowds and the first prize was a Creative Sound System. Other consolation prizes were also distributed amongst the lucky audience.

And the audience had another bit of surprise waiting for them as the Grill & Chill authorities declared drinks on the house for the final part of the show.

GnC plans to organize an event like this for a number of times each month and if possible on a bi weekly basis.

The next show is scheduled for the last Thursday of this month.

So if you have time to kill, just want to hang out or listen to some music and be surprised ala Friends be sure to give Grill and Chill a visit.

The burgers are also probably the best I have had in a while, so don't forget to give those a try!

By Quazi Zulquarnain Islam


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