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Why do Indians, especially husbands, make fun of their wives for having an interest in grooming, dressing up, make-up, etc., once they have kids?
Let me tell you I was deeply hurt.
Agreed that I was 32 and the mother of a three year old daughter. There was nothing to stop me from wearing a stylish new sari, or decking myself up to go to a social-do. Moreover the sari, a lovely jamdaani booti was a gift from my paternal uncle.
But I foolishly asked my husband how I looked. “What looks? You are already a budhhi (old woman)!” he shot back.
My world crumbled; I was woebegone. If he was joking, it was not my kind of humour; I wanted to scream, but desisted.
Such instances are not hard to come by.
My cousin Ruby, in her late 40’s and a mother of two, has begun to bald slightly as it runs in the family; to arrest it she consulted a doctor who suggested a serum plus vitamin tablets.
Hearing of this, her husband mocked her. “What are you up to?’ he queried, “switching husbands or planning to catwalk on the ramp?” he commented sardonically. The poor girl burst into tears.
Tia’s experience is far worse. A buxom 50 year old with sharp features and good complexion, she loves to wear light make-up. But again, her spouse makes caustic remarks comparing her to street-walkers. Ironically she is a working woman earning enough to buy her own stuff.
Her mother-in-law advises her to “stay simple” since (she feels) cosmetics make her look ‘coquettish’ which does not behove a middle-aged bahu. And that too when she has a 25 year old eligible daughter! Obviously the “log kya kahenge” (adverse public opinion) comes to the forefront!
Tia is so disgusted that she has toned down her use of make-up to minimal except on special occasions.
I recall getting tongue lashings from my mother-in-law on two occasions when I had left a sleeping baby and gone for a haircut. The baby woke up and began whining which vexed her no end, and of course she gave a earful to me.
I cannot for dear life figure out as to why married women are expected to put their commonest habits, pastime, and grooming on the back burner once they have had children? Having one child or more does not necessarily mean we’re no longer interested in dressing up.
By the way do kids always prove to be a hindrance in beauty pursuits? Nah. I am sure arrangements can jolly well be made for other adult family members (dad too had better do his part in parenting), or even a domestic help to mind the babies for a while so that the mothers can go ahead with whatever they want to do in their me-time.
And once the children begin to grow up, they may give their moms new ideas and tips, and it can become a way to bond!
Image source: a still from the film Lipstick Under My Burkha
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