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Contemporary Leading Ladies Look Like Clones Of Each Other – What Happened To Individuality?

Somewhere in the endless quest for perfect skin, glossy hair, six pack abs, fitting in with the current fashion trends and presenting a flawless self to the world, we lose ourselves.

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Somewhere in the endless quest for perfect skin, glossy hair, six pack abs, fitting in with the current fashion trends and presenting a flawless self to the world, we lose ourselves. 

Truth is beauty and beauty is truth. Penned beautifully by the great John Keats, eons ago. Cut to modern times: beauty is as far from truth as possible.

Just as most of us use social media to share moments of triumph, joy and sadly in these challenging times, grief and loss too, numerous celebrities, influencers, models and brands, use the platforms to promote themselves and the brands they are associated with. The final projected image is not only digitally altered but also filtered to perfection.

So each morning, as we groggily reach out for our phones and check out what’s trending on the gram, or any other social media platform, it is impossible to miss the multitude of glistening, perfectly sculpted bodies and beautifully toned faces. Even as we are aimlessly scrolling and swiping through these images, our mind is secretly absorbing the images and storing them.

Tons of Instagram and Snapchat filters are magical, they make us look blemish free, supple skinned and glossy haired. One can even opt for fairer skin, lighter eyes, well, defined cheekbones, chiseled jawlines, and a delicate nose. Unfortunately, at a subconscious level, we start believing that that is the gold standard of beauty and fitness. The result is that no one feels ready to share an unedited picture and sooner or later, we all succumb to the guilty pleasure of trying out filters. Some for fun, some to magically remove our imperfections, and others to gift the features which we think god forgot to give us.

The feeling of not being ‘good enough’

So as millions of movie stars and Youtubers share their daily routines on social media, we sneakily start trying out apps and filters to make our pictures appear brighter, fairer, younger and thinner.

With these seemingly harmless and fun filters, we slowly slip towards the dark side of social media. It makes us think, we are not tall enough, thin enough and so on. This mindless pursuit of a falsely represented, unrealistic beauty ideal unknowingly becomes the cause of stress and anxiety.

According to a survey, even though 65% girls know that the images in the media are digitally air brushed or altered, yet 47% of girls aged 11 to 21 feel the way they look “holds them back” and 69% of girls aged seven to 11 feel “they are not good enough”.

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Beauty is individualistic, it varies from region to region and everyone is beautiful in their own way. Yet, people are having trouble embracing their true selves and don’t feel comfortable in their skin due to such unachievable beauty standards hammered down by glossy magazines and social media.

Eating disorders brought in by these perceptions

Due to these unrealistic and essentially unattainable beauty standards, impressionable young girls and boys are bogged down by depression, low self-esteem, eating disorders.

Dr. Samir Parikh, a psychiatrist at a premier hospital chain in India says he has seen far more patients with bulimia and anorexia, some brought in by family members and others referred by physicians because of serious health problems that turned out to be side effects of eating disorders. He says that he has encountered younger and younger girls with eating disorders.

It is clear that somewhere, in this endless quest for that perfect sun-kissed acne free skin, glossy hair, six pack abs, we lose ourselves.

Commercial aspect of all this

On the other side of the spectrum, is the business side. Due to this incessant quest for ideal beauty, the beauty and fitness industry continues to thrive. The market is flooded with a variety of products; one is spoilt for choice.

People are opting for surgical and non-surgical treatments and treating them like monthly haircuts. There is botox, lip fillers, tummy tucks, laser treatments, hair extensions, permanent lipsticks. It does not end here; a nip here, a tuck there, sculpted bodies, defined jawlines, curled eyelashes, tattooed eyebrows, acrylic nails, the list goes on and on. Most of the images we aspire to resemble are air brushed and photo shopped images and no amount of dieting, working out or surgery will make us appear the same.

It is an inescapable trap that the multibillion dollar beauty and fitness industry has laid for us.

It is great to aspire to be fit and healthy or learn makeup and hair styling hacks from the net, but to be constantly judging oneself against impossible standards leads to low self-esteem and in some cases, self-hate. The influencer we follow might have a collaboration with the brand, and waxes eloquent about the benefits of diet pills and detox teas, creams and serums while in reality, their fitness is in most cases a result if arduous labor at the gym, salon, and on the editing table. Their job is to feed onto our insecurities and aspirations.

Celebrities who speak up about this

The good news is that many celebrities are vocal about the fact they look the way they do due to an army of professionals and not just god given looks. They are also accepting that their photographs are often digitally altered and their appearance is a result of a team of professionals having spent weeks on their, makeup, outfit, styling and look. Just Imagine, what are we up against. If after all that their pics need to altered and then for us lesser mortals to consider being worthy of platforms, we need filters.

Sonam Kapoor had urged young girls to acknowledge that it takes an army to make them look they do, they don’t wake up looking perfect. She has admitted, like Sonakshi Sinha, that she was happy and overweight and even post weight loss, they have scars and stretch marks like most of us. Sonakshi Sinha has admitted to being judged harshly due to her size and now blocking such people on the internet, and Vidya Balan has admitted that people have asked her to lose some weight on her face. That is body shaming even to the rich and powerful.

Celebrities are under constant pressure to churn out selfie after selfie, and that is unnerving even for them; the seemingly perfect too don’t always look perfect, and have good and bad days. Even the exquisite Aishwarya Rai Bachchan without make up and studio lighting looks less like a diva.

Why do the younger crowd all look like each other?

In the current scenario, the leading ladies appear like doppelgangers of each other. Case in point, Katrina Kaif, Jacqueline Fernandez and Zarine Khan all look beautiful and yet alike, whatever happened to individuality?

Alia Bhatt, Shraddha Kapoor sport the same hairstyle, clothes and looks, while Ananya Panday, Janhvi Kapoor, Sara Ali Khan all have similar hairstyles, similar outfits, and not surprisingly so as they share nutritionists, stylists, makeup artists. And it is this squad, which is responsible for their looks.

The same would not have happened with Sridevi or Madhuri, both brilliant in their craft yet unique in appearance.

Even Parineeti Chopra, when a few pounds heavier, shone with her own distinct personality. Now, she is fit but could be mistaken for Shraddha Kapoor and other contemporaries.

And they’re no longer very relatable

Actresses of yore were not only more talented but also more relatable than the skinny leggy lasses of today. Think of the charming and bubbly Juhi Chawla or the graceful and talented Madhuri Dixit in any of their movies vs a supermodel like Disha Patani in Radhe.

While one could relate to Raveena, Urmila and Kajol, it is hard to relate to these waif thin pageant beauties until one is gifted with an exceptionally gifted gene pool.  Even these actresses have openly admitted that it was easier being a heroine in their times, as the focus was less on outfits and pictures.

Maybe we need more social media stars and celebrities to contribute to an active conversation about unhealthy western beauty stereotypes and unachievable ideals. One needs to acknowledge that self-love is important.

One has to learn to accept who we are and what we are. One needs to aspire towards a healthy and happy mind, body and soul. Self-esteem and self-worth should not be driven by appearance alone. They are the sum of our abilities, skills and values.

Stop seeking validation in others altered images or eyes. Next time, you encounter an unnaturally tiny waist, impossibly long legs, fake lashes and tinted eyes or perfectly arched eyebrows staring back from your phone screen, remember, the image may not be real and it is not promoting beauty but selling merchandise.

Aspire to feel beautiful and confident from within. Work on your personality, skills and abilities. Remember, you are unique and beautiful as god had intended you to be so. Try to be the best version of yourself.

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