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To look beyond “Aesthetics”

Aesthetics, one of the most popular terms used today. Born on Instagram, raised by influencers, it is everyone’s favourite hashtag. From our Instagram feeds to a casual picture captured, we all seem to be busy playing around with filters to make everything look aesthetic. While I love the term and I follow accounts that are aesthetic, I somehow cannot digest the fact that we seem to lack the patience to look beyond it.

One important aspect of aesthetics, is ‘grooming’ which seems to be getting more attention than it deserves. While this might differ according to the community we live in, yet largely I find people are heavily scrutinized for not keeping up with their looks. The cosmetic industry has flourished making make up accessible to everyone. While there is no problem in it, one comment which I couldn’t tolerate is, “even the kaam wali Bhai comes home wearing lipstick”. We tend to put people who put make up, dress better on a different pedestal. I wonder how as adults our collective conscience is getting built based on just our first impression. While I do understand how important it is, people who do not want to do it feel marginalised or further shamed for the same.

Another very important aspect of aesthetics hyped up by social media is ‘aesthetic body’.  The gym I go to, holds the caption, “perfect body loading'”. What is a perfect body? Building muscles, a healthy weight and an increased stamina isn’t enough? I have worked hard to achieve the above, even then I look different in different outfits, while some doesn’t show my back fat, others show my underbelly. So, am I not perfect?  And I cannot imagine myself investing any more time for fitness to just look good or perfect or have an aesthetic body. More so, I know a lot of women who hit the gym everyday with bodies they own proudly, are they perfect? Well, it shouldn’t be even a question or something against which you should be measuring yourself. On that note, I would like to mention Danae Mercer Ricci’s account, which is far from being aesthetic, but does have some lovely affirmations which you need to be telling yourself.

How we feel about our own bodies has to do with the way we think about it. And we consciously, unconsciously imbibe everything that gets spoken about it from our surroundings. The below excerpt is from the book “the dark holds no terrors” by Shashi deshpande. The protagonist is talking about her mother.

“You are growing up, she would say. And there was something unpleasant in the way she looked at me, so that I longed to run away, to hide whatever part of me she was staring at. ‘You should be careful now about how you behave. Don’t come out in your petticoat like that. Not even when its only your father who’s around. And it became something shameful, this growing up, so that you had to be ashamed of yourself, even in the presence of your own father.”

These lines triggered a flood of thoughts that couldn’t be contained and had to be written down.
If a mother’s face irks while she talks to her daughter about her hair in the armpits, there is a very good chance that she might end up thinking it’s something ugly and shouldn’t be a part of the body. I grew up being ashamed of showing my under arms, my cleavage because an expression of angst is all I received even when accidentally they were shown to the world. But as you grow up, the collective thinking of your immediate circle changes, these thoughts vanish and you feel liberated from the shameful body image of your past.

Subtle remarks about an actress looking “fat” while having casual conversations at home can get inbred into our system and can influence the way we think. Last time during a family get together one of my relatives took a jibe at me saying, “You look more round in this outfit compared to how I saw you the last time”. Now this was accompanied by a few people laughing at it. I later told her that I didn’t like what she said and her reply was, she said it “just like that”. While I do understand that she must not have had any malicious intent behind her words, such comments came natural to her. People are always eager to pass a comment about how you have grown an extra few inches on your hips.  How about we normalise not making any comments on how people look. Like if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

It’s comforting to see how an entire generation is coming together to fight and break the cycle. People who were body shamed from a really young age turn into these hyper sensitive adults who wouldn’t allow it to happen further. And I am one among them.

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