Among all women around the world, there is an unspoken compulsion to constantly look good, whenever they are in the public eye. Vanity may be our choice of vice, but it comes with a curse. Women simply cannot afford to look shabby or “homely” or unkempt. No, the eyebrows must be always ship-shape, the clothes should be fashionable and fitting, along with matching accessories, and the hair should be so styled, that a shampoo brand might want to sign you up as their brand ambassador. Women who do not play by these rules get called dull, lazy and even unattractive. Which tells us how our appearance, willingly or unwillingly, is a projection of our personality.
- Women all around feel compelled to always look good.
- They cannot afford to look shabby or unkempt, because it makes them appear dull, lazy and unattractive.
- Looking good, isn’t about aesthetics or make up. It is about being presentable all the time.
- We assume that a sharply dressed woman is intelligent, well-to-do and attractive.
We end up spending money and time on things which we can do without.
Looking good, isn’t about aesthetics or makeup. It is about being presentable all the time. For a woman to look good she must put in the labour to dress up, put on make up, and even diet and exercise so that she is in shape. Do we burden men with these criteria? In modern times we do. All metropolitan men are conscious of their appearance. Yet, they have an option to not put in an effort, which is practically unacceptable when it comes to women. As a result of which we end up spending money and time on things which we can do without, if it was up to us.
Let us take something as simple as getting your eyebrows done. Just how painful and time-consuming that process is. You have to make an appointment at your salon. Then you’ve to let another adult woman get uncomfortably close to your face to pluck unwanted hair. But not many women would dare to step out for a public engagement without getting their eyebrows done. Similarly, when it comes to clothes, most of us would choose to lounge around in track pants all day long, but we can’t. We must ensure we are immaculately dressed whenever we leave home. In fact, for some women in our country, it is still the norm to look good even in the comfort of their homes. I recall a friend had shared how on getting up every morning after being married, she was expected to clean up, wear a fresh saree and apply bindi, light make up and sindoor, even before stepping out of her bedroom, because a bahu is supposed to always look “presentable.”
We assume that a sharply dressed woman is intelligent, well-to-do and attractive. She is the one we would want to talk to.
This attitude gives control of our lives to others. Husbands expect wives to clean up and look fresh and pretty when they come back home from the office. Even if they have spent the entire day running after kids, haggling with vegetable vendors and wading through a sludge of office work. Mothers-in-law demand that bahus doll up every time someone comes over to visit. Even at the workplace, our approach is drastically different to women who dress sharp versus those who do not make much of an effort to look good. This actually says so much about what we consider as “looking good,” and how it is subjective to differ with gender. We assume that a sharply dressed woman is intelligent, well-to-do and attractive. She is the one we would want to talk to. She is the one we would want to befriend. This goes for both men and women because even the latter’s judgement is clouded by the appearance of the person they are interacting with.
That is where the change in our approach needs to start. Don’t judge a woman if her eye make-up isn’t according to your liking. Or if her dressing sense is more about comfort and functionality, than looking sharp and stunning. For the world to lax its standards in the department of appearance, first women themselves need to learn to cut each other some slack. So the next you come across a woman who isn’t “looking good” don’t judge or berate her. In fact, admire her for caring so little about what others have to say about her.
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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.