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Beauty and Beyond

I've always thought that I am fairly ok-looking, if not at least a little pleasing to the eye. So when I said something in complete good humour and the other person (who happened to be a guy) retorted with 'Have you ever even looked at yourself in the mirror?' Although it was a comment made in the heat of the moment and probably not meant (because, you see, I do happen to have some confidence to vouch for the fact that I have sufficiently commendable looks), the wound struck home.

Why does it matter so much, these extreme perceptions of absolute beauty, to the Bangladeshi society? How can you even criticize someone for something that person can't control, namely his/her 'looks' ? Obesity you can control, height you can control to at least some extent, but you can't control your looks without making yourself superficial.

Boys want good-looking brides. Girls want good-looking bridegrooms. Families want good-looking daughter-in-laws and son-in-laws (and no, I kid you not. I happen to know cases like these). What's wrong with everyone?

So they chant in your ear. 'You don't look good enough, you can do better, you'd look so much better with a blah-blah-blah'.

I have heard people passing remarks like 'Person A is so ugly, how can she even think someone's going to marry her?' And you know what happens? At one point, that particular person does start to believe that whatever is being said is true and will affect life forever- opportunities will pass you by and your dreams will never come true only because your looks aren't good enough.

Enter superficial beauty ads. One fairness cream and you achieve everything you want- your dream job and, most pathetically, your dream guy. What I don't understand is, how can someone who doesn't even deign to lift his eyes at you before but suddenly starts stalking you once you're 'beautiful' ever be a dream guy to any modern woman with even an ounce of self-esteem? Do advertising agencies ever think about this? Judging by the same old ads packaged newly with different girls to endorse different products still flooding television, no.

And then someone comes up with a magic solution; get this done and you'll look like a princess. Get your hair straightened, get your arms and legs waxed, get your eyebrows shaped, get to look better with makeup plastered allover your face. And then what happens? The ultra-straight hair turns frizzy after a month, the makeup takes a toll on your face and bingo. People are stuck in an eternal cycle of doing all these- time, money and pain for what-making yourself look good to other people? Have you ever seen one of those girls with dark kohl-lined eyes minus the kohl? They look physically ill without it- because their faces have become so accustomed to the kohl used to doll up their eyes everyday (and I mean everyday) that it has become a part of their existence, their look; and that is seriously scary.

Some give in, some don't. Those who don't are in for many more comments, but at least they are real people, not merely masks hiding behind their real selves. There will always be people in the world whose sole aim is to pass comments and make you feel worse. To them, the only thing I have to say this, please don't. Comments like these, even if made in jest, leave deep scars. If someone doesn't expect you to call him/her pretty or handsome, at least don't call that person ugly.

By Anika Tabassum

Breathe less

We might someday be asked to ration our breathing. In fact the government might even impose taxes on breathing. Our ministers on the other hand will be able to import tax free oxygen. A University of California at Berkeley climate model indicates there are limits to Earth's ability to absorb increased levels of carbon dioxide. Inez Y. Fung, director of the Berkeley Atmospheric Sciences Center, says themodel indicates that if current production of carbon from fossil fuels continues, by the end of the century the land and oceans will be less able to take up carbon than they are today.

"If we maintain our current course of fossil fuel emissions or accelerate our emissions, the land and oceans will not be able to slow the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere the way they're doing now," said Fung. "It's all about rates. If the rate of fossil fuel emissions is too high, the carbon storage capacity of the land and oceans decreases and climate warming accelerates." The findings are published in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.



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