Admire, don’t imitate

poutHer fuller lips continue to trend higher upwards even after enticing several teens who pouted their way to imitate her and got disfigured beyond repair. Does imitating somebody make one more beautiful? Precisely, what does one gain by trying the most unsafe way to ape a celebrity?

At the outset, I must unashamedly admit to be an ardent fan of Miranda Kerr and do read her tweets whenever possible. This in no way means that I am afflicted with the much disastrous celebrity worship or obsession with celebrities: neither do I believe in imitating them by any means, nor do I harm my body to emulate. But unfortunately, we have a startling number of youth in our society who suffer from the stead-fast desire of acquiring the looks of their favourite stars by hook-or-crook, irrespective of the immense levels of risks involved. While celebrities are beauty and style inspirations for many, they indirectly dictate the lives of several others who remain obsessed with public figures. These insensible fans often pick cringe-worthy means to ape their favourite stars. Apart from attires and hairstyles, there has been a wild-fire-like passion for cosmetics and artificial looks, an increasingly contagious trend that often extends to absolute nonsense levels, when brain-dead fans blindly line-up to transform themselves into some badly-made copies of their favourite stars. A worthless, hopeless, and dangerous pursuit to justify their delusional worship!

As celebrities apparently undergo their body and style transformations in the recommended manner; their fans often take the most harming routes to imitate their favourite stars. But how far can one go to mimic one’s favourite celebrity? From similar attires to fancy hairstyles, the options to try out are endless. However, the other day, I was shocked to read about a much dangerous, and unquestionably the utmost dumbest, act of a few teens who used shot glasses and bottles to artificially plump their lips and emulate a reality TV star. Simply put, it turned out to be a challenge gone bonkers! While the Ice Bucket Challenge had a genuine cause to mention, and hardly left anyone with permanent harm, much against the medical advices of numerous experts from all over the world, this newest and stupidest trend, or a dangerous stunt, went on irrespective of the stern warnings of possible permanent damages. It makes me wonder about the brain quotient of those who impulsively jump to try out something as stupid as the do-it-yourself lip pouting craze, which can lead to permanent disfigurements. Despite being aware of the medical impacts and the possible chances of getting the blood vessels burst, several brainless teens tried to emulate the lips of their favourite star by adopting utmost unnatural and unsafe methods, and ended up in having weird swellings on their lips, which in turn looked far from the much-talked-about lush-lips that they hoped to have. While the entire antic was named as a “challenge” that took the social media by storm, in their desperate effort to get the ‘pouty’ lips that resemble their favourite star, our teens didn’t think twice to use thrust and suck empty bottles and glasses to plump their lips, and later share disturbing results on social media. More shocking news came in soon, and it read that some of them even used a vacuum sucker to make their lips ‘pouty’, which I feel is the height of silliness and insensibility. After continuing the entire catastrophe and ending up with bruised and swollen lips, most of them soon found that their pouts were oddly sized out of proportion, leaving several injuries around the mouth, and letting them mourn for the disfigurement and pain.

I am not a fan of bee-stung pout, nor do I believe in calling it a sign of enviable beauty. After watching the widely disturbing images on social media, I cannot help but pity the youngsters who were keen on injuring their lips to secure the ‘famous pout’ or ‘create’ the supposedly ‘enviable’ ‘fuller lips’. Irrespective of being aware that this seventeen-something celebrity might have gone under the knife, used lip-plumping devices/injections, or generously spent hours every day to create her pout, our supposedly educated teenagers risked to mimic her and suffered severe facial injuries, only to find a strange response from their star that she never forced anyone to participate. So the bottom line is, what exactly was all the risk-taking for, or what on earth did they gain by using glasses and vacuum suckers for the most dangerous cosmetic transformations ever heard of? Such ultimate steps to get uncanny resemblances and that help earn the tag of a close look-alike of a movie star or a TV celeb are to be considered akin to insaneness, and not adoration. Good looks are hardly about having celebrity-like skin colour, nose, or lips, but about having high self-esteem and self-confidence. However, there is an increasingly huge number of people around who are not comfortable in their own skin, and are desperate to alter it and emulate a TV or movie star.

Celebrity worship is a kind of addiction, and becomes potentially dangerous when the level of imitation extends beyond the contours of safety. Yet, many in the society often get fooled by the wrong facades of beauty. Cute or not, the mega mouth and the much-celebrated pout that has been trending for months can easily be created with ample use of lipsticks and lip liners. But, many teenagers didn’t think twice to jump in and use unhealthy shortcuts to feverishly imitate their star, thus raising concerns over the upcoming generation of men and women who are preoccupied and fancied about celebrities and reality stars. Admiring the rich and the fabulous to a reasonable extend is in no way harmful, but an overgrowing affection as well as a blind and irrational admiration rings the warning sign that we are crossing the borderline, and should step back right away.

The entire billion-dollar industries of movies and television shows in fact revolve around our indefatigable obsession with celebs, which in a sensible amount can be a boost to our self-esteem. However, akin to this dangerous lip pouting stunt, the burning desire to resemble a celebrity might soon result in lowering the self-confidence, spurring terrible insecurity, thus ending up in a series of psychological disorders. If left unattended, the obsession would soon turn out to OCD and paranoia to adopt irreversible and invasive methods that might do unfathomable harm, instead of helping emulate the looks of a matinee idol or a TV star.

PS – Puckered lips can no way be called a yardstick to define one’s beauty. Try not to risk your body just to get a duck-like lips, which can hardly define your personality. They belong to someone else and not you!

Celebration of ‘adultery’

A lot has been written, spoken, and discussed about women’s rights, freedom, the ongoing struggles against misogyny, and several other issues of relevance in today’s knowledgeable yet regressive society of ours. However, here is a news story that drove me into a chain of thoughts on what can be called the downside or misuse of the freedom that women have been craving since ages. Irrespective of being happily single, I have always looked upon the institution of marriage as a sacred unison of two individuals, the reason why this news story of a woman who has had an open marriage for a year, and proudly bedded more than a dozen of men and women, almost shocked me to death. Adding to the jolt is her memoir and proud revelations of the yearlong escapades that forced her and her husband of 18 years to part ways and never look back. While I do agree on her right to live her life on her own terms, the disagreement lies in her way of exalting her 12 months long shenanigans in the pretext of freeing herself from a disastrous marriage.

adulteryWhile she happily savours the bygone moments on her memoir and in the entire set of interviews on print and visual media, I cannot help but wonder what exactly she is trying to glorify through penning a chronicle on her yearlong sexual adventure. In spite of having several other reasonable options including an amicable divorce which could have been the easiest way to bid goodbye to someone who mercilessly dashed her hopes of motherhood by doing a vasectomy, much to my surprise, she has no reason to say on why she failed to choose a legal separation, and instead opted for an open marriage, or in plain words, cheating on her partner with his permission, while living her weekends like a dutiful wife. Boredom of routine sex life, the miniscule list of lovers, and the unquenchable urge to have a child, the reasons to justify the morality depletion are many. Though I am no one to question her need for an exceptional sex life, I find all her reasons to be hypocritical and pretentious, no matter whether it’s the loss of opportunities of bedding more men, or her unwillingness to go to grave with no children. An over the edge decision, a yearlong flings with strangers, and a handful of experiences to cash on, she did make it big with her reckless living, but could have avoided reasoning it as her yearning for motherhood, as she could have embraced parenthood even without the uncontrolled living she has had, and is proud about.

The narrative and the author’s perspective of spicing up or bringing energy and excitement to marital life have been narrowed down to having sex with random men and women, which I believe is downright ridiculous and absurd. While I do admit that I lack the real-life experience to authentically argue on the state of a mind of a woman who is robbed of her chances of motherhood, I can undoubtedly say that that neither was this woman keen on embracing motherhood, nor was she interested in getting pregnant with a stranger’s baby, as she has openly described her sojourn as finding the passion for living. Then again, rekindling the innate connection with one’s own feminine self can hardly be defined as having several one nightstands with random men and women. It only quenches one’s carnal hunger and never ends the quest to rekindling the bondage with one’s own womanhood.

As her hook-ups, steamy sex, and intimate encounters are getting sold as hot cakes, I wonder what she has achieved in return of the risk her marital life through an over-the-edge decision. Her marriage sputtered out, her motherhood dreams failed to metamorphose, and yet she calls it an exciting year go by. I might be ridiculed for my old-fashioned rationale; however, the entire story looks completely irrational to me, mainly because she has badly failed to successfully flaunt her reasons in the much-needed perfection. Her explanations are more like self-praising and self-congratulatory narratives, than her longing for motherhood or self-fulfilment. The story even fails to extend to the contours of feministic perspectives, the reason why I cannot fathom the exact reason why she wanted to publish a memoir on her sexual escapades as well as the men she slept with outside her marriage. Rather than calling it a passion-filled tale of physical gratification, I am tempted to call it a cautionary narrative that has to be re-titled as ‘How to wreck a marriage’. She is keen on cashing on a bunch of sexually explicit stories, yet describes herself a die-hard feminist. But I believe she has terribly failed to reach the realm that a true-blue feminist deserves to be in, because, with a bunch of reasons-for-reasons-sake, she embarked on a midlife infidelity for a year, and is now on a deliberate attempt to glorify the adultery she has committed.

With an entire range of verbal juggleries that she desperately embraces to unfold and justify her unorthodox living, the story never empowered me but instead left a feeling of absolute blankness. Neither can I fathom how sleeping with many people make her feel good about not having a kid, nor do I understand the name and the page dedicated for the baby girl she hoped to have. If that was what she has always wanted, options that she could have chosen were endless.

When rags help them make enviable fortunes

Is begging a money minting profession? While many of us might vehemently deny, interesting facts that are put forth on a leading website prove us wrong. After having read about the richness that begging can help amass, I cannot help but mock at some of the new age parents out there, who are obstinate on imposing a set of career choices on their children, while depriving them of their dreams and ambitions. Had these parents been given a chance to have a close look at the wealth that some of the richest beggars in our country have amassed, I am sure they would have re-erected their mind-set on the viable jobs that their children must pursue, and look beyond medical and engineering fields. This unconventional path has helped some of the pioneer beggars out there amass enviable amount of cash, thus giving our elite IITians and IIM grads a run for their money.

One among the forty plus entrepreneurial ‘mendicant’ has begged his way to owning two luxury apartments in a leading metro, each worth about 70 to 80 lakhs, apart from earning about 75 to 80 thousand rupees from open-minded alms givers, which means he effortlessly earns much more than the average salary of the highest government official in his state. Shocking me further, the article about him also read that he owns several other businesses that are successfully run by his family members. While a major part of the nation showers pity and offerings on the supposedly small-time beggars who skilfully narrate their woes, the actuality is far from what’s being projected. While the fruits of labour of many such beggars help them earn humongous money from some of the busy traffic intersections that we pass by, most of us knowingly and unknowingly contribute intensely to promoting this deceitful occupation, making it the most profitable way of earning a living in our country. Many of us are in fact guilty of giving away a whooping amount of money as alms to the undeserved and unworthy, only to boast about our willingness to help the poor and needy. This makes me want to share a personal experience which almost took away my kindness and compassion for mendicants. After giving alms generously to a physically disabled old man whom I used to find in our bus stand, I was shocked one fine day, upon realizing that he was in fact blowing the entire money on booze each day. As he came to me the next day with his usual antics, I shouted and shooed him away in anger.

Irrespective of a stream of advancements and developments that we are living amongst, begging has sky-rocketed to becoming a thriving business in our country because we are emotionally too vulnerable to believing the phony stories of woes and predicaments that are brilliantly crafted by devious beggars who are well aware of making wise use of our sympathy and love for the deprived. While giving away substantial amount of money with the hope of bringing in a change in the life of an underprivileged person, many of us deliberately forget the fact that begging is in fact a 200 crore industry in our country. While adult mendicants flock in abundance to earn a living by begging on busy streets and railway stations, what makes me feel sick to the stomach is the cruellest exploitation that child beggars face. Rag clad and sometimes unclothed children who keep pounding on the windows of cars and other vehicles, or sifting through garbage in the hope of finding a few morsels of food are common sights in our country. But what often goes unnoticed is the terror in the glares of these helpless children. While most of us continue to believe that these little ones slog away each day holding the burden of their family on their frail shoulders, the reality is far horrific from what we get to get to see, as most of them are often horrifically exploited by adult beggars who are well aware of the fact that children can mint more money than adults. While the major share of the money earned goes to the adult gang leaders, children are given mere pennies that are hardly sufficient for their daily meals. Beggar syndicates often abduct, and disfigure children and deliberately leave them starved for days together, before making them beg on the streets, often accompanied by women who pose as their mothers.

As the rich affluent in our country continue to make their way towards greater magnitudes of richness, innumerable breeds of ‘professional’ beggars are toiling hard to give their elite counterparts the toughest competition in terms of monthly earnings. While the sight of these deprived looking mendicants sitting down on dirt filled pavements and roads might falsely echo countless stories of poverty and distress, behind the misguiding pretexts, begging is actually ‘passionate and dedicated’ ‘profession’ for each one of them, With several years of panhandling on various streets of our cities, many of them secretly accumulate enviable fortunes and become millionaires, and yet continue to dupe us with torn clothes and poverty-stricken looks that are often achieved with skilful makeups that can easily con the philanthropists amongst us.

While getting tricked into believing that all the shabbily dressed mendicants belong to the underprivileged and unfortunate class of our society, we are unknowingly depriving the dark underbelly of the society by giving away their share of benefits to the tricksters who appear in the guise of ill-fated panhandlers. A ban on begging is hardly an apt solution to deal with conning of begging mafia. Instead, we need more emphatic and rigid rules, apart from vigilant authorities that keep a check on the increasingly sprouting begging mafia in our country. But sadly we are neither watchful about this snowballing disgrace, nor keen on curbing rogues from duping us in the disguise of poverty.

The next time when you generously help an adult beggar, remember that he might be wealthier than you!

My way of dealing with leering

After having worked amidst more number of men than women, I can undoubtedly say that I am more thick-skinned now than I have ever been. Gone are the days when I used to get offended and hurt at the drop of a hat, and hated men around for their impertinence and inherent trait of leaving no stones to degrade women whenever possible. Backed by years of good and bad experiences, my mind has been fine-tuned to be at both giving and receiving end, and accept and return scorns and scoffs with equal velocity and magnitude. I have finally learned the artless art of standing apart in the midst of men folk around me who keep boasting on their make-believe brain power and sensibility, while ridiculing women as senseless and brainless minorities. While I am used to bearing these trivial and imprudent arguments and attitudes, there’s one trait of men that continues to surprise me, as I am yet to decipher the reason why they remain addicted to that strange habit, irrespective of age. The strangest part of the story lies in the fact that this odd trait is commonly found amongst men in our country. Is there a hidden virus that we are yet to discover, or is there a genetic combination that our scientists haven’t noticed at, if not, what is that single reason that makes our men stare so shamelessly at women around them, no matter whether they are as young as five, or as old as fifty five? Being on the receiving end of someone’s ogle is not as peachy as how it is portrayed in some of the commercials that we get to see. The last among the ogling sessions that I have had was on Saturday, at the bus stop close by our hostel. In spite of draping me in a loose salwar which is far from sex, revealing or provocative, I couldn’t escape the stares of men who either walked beside me, or drove their way towards the bus stand. Shocking me further, a man almost forgot to blink his eyes while lecherously staring at me from a nearby building! While the stare-to-strip race went on with baton being exchanged from one to another, my bus arrived and I quickly boarded in, leaving behind the long line of ‘admirers’ around.

While it can be a fun hobby for some, lascivious staring can also result from hideous motives. Every time a woman walks past, the devil soon awakes to lure men to stare at her in the most discreet and pervert manner, while some extent further to the strip-mode. Despite the fact that I have never witnessed a ‘scary stare’ as of now, I can undoubtedly say that staring of all kind is annoying, no matter what the hidden intention is. If men believe in ‘complementing’ women through their incessant stares, they are yet to realize that no woman can accept that salacious praise open-heartedly. With that said I must also say that when women get offended, they often end up being victims of more intense, creepy and annoying gazes. Does that mean men use staring as a tactful way to attract a woman’s attention? Are women vulnerable to yelling at every man who desperately wants some attention back? I am not-sure, as it can never be answered without a whole lot of hard-core psychological reasons that I can hardly write about.

However, here is my thought on how to avoid getting distraught about annoying leers. Rather than displaying a distressing body language followed by a perturbed yell, if we shrug off the less offensive ogles, and tactfully save ourselves from the creepy and annoying ones, I believe that staring might never rise to become as bothersome as it is believed to be. While some of you might call this to be an act of cowardice, here is the reason that backs this thought of mine – when you can’t change something, it’s better to change your tactic and outlook towards the unchangeable. Doesn’t that sound sensible now? While some men intend to piss off women and some others carry streams of hideous thoughts behind those vicious stares, in both the cases, most of these wayward men are hell-bent on remaining the way they are. Hence, giving a piece of your mind would only make matters worse and never change them, especially in a country where raping or sodomizing to death continue to make headlines each day.

Whenever I come across men who instinctively turn their ‘lenses’ on lewdly, I also wonder whether such men really ‘inspect’, leer, and drool over every woman they clap their eyes on. I do feel they stare at most of them and not just the beautiful, petite or voluptuous alone, desperately hoping to get stared back. Much to their happiness and gratification, most women exchange glances, either out of curiosity or as a way of expressing their displeasure. Either ways, they make men happy in their triumphant effort to attract the attention of the women they choose to target for god-knows-what reasons. The reciprocations take men close to their second phase of staring, which is often ‘spiced’ up with lustful looks and lewd comments, making woman feel that intense puking sensation which erupts straight from the gut. This brings in my way of dealing with stares, good bad and ugly – thicken your mind and skin, ignore the glances and just move away. Because, most men are so intensely programmed to shamelessly stare at women of all ages. Though it’s ridiculous and annoying, they will continue to stare at women for many more ages to come. So why bother to irk your tiresome mind or rack your already worn-out brain, instead, why not shift to the impassive ignore-mode and save yourself?

Anecdote – Here is an interesting statistical data that I found on a leading newspaper:

An average man will spend almost 43 minutes a day staring at 10 different women.
That adds up to 259 hours – almost 11 days – each year, making a total 11 months and 11 days between the ages of 18 and 50.

Need I say more?

An ordinary woman with an unusual job

No matter whether it’s a job or a lifestyle, when it comes to defying conventional yardsticks and societal norms, we do hesitate a bit, and remain obstinate about walking through the pre-set pathways, thus saving ourselves from becoming victims of scorns and scoffs from people around. While I believe that everyone is entitled to make their own choices, the world around is often unreasonably prejudiced when it comes to categorizing certain people based on their jobs and lifestyle. Rather than delving deeper into knowing them and situations that forced them into adopting what we categorize as odd jobs and bizarre lifestyles, we are often vulnerable to believing the hearsays that swirl around the professional and personal choices they make, to make both ends meet. I am not intending to glorify them or sympathise for the decisions they have made in life, but, I also don’t intend to be judgemental about every choice that the world disapproves with raised eyebrows. Rather than letting my mind wander and make presumptions about a supposedly odd sounding job or way of life, I believe in looking out for the reasons that resulted in the apparently unusual choices. This is where I have a story to share, about a middle aged woman who works as a muse for several art students. Posing as a muse or a life model is far from the glitzy and glamourous catwalks that we watch every day. Unclothed and unmoving, she has to tirelessly and pose for painters, sketchers and sculptors, practically every day. But unlike the popular perception, life modelling is not prostitution.

Being a professional life model demands an incomparable mental strength and focus, apart from the incredible capability to look past some of the occasional creepy and lecherous stares. Surprisingly, irrespective of being less than averagely educated, she does it all with impressive zeal and vigour, while keeping her embarrassments at bay. She is courageous enough to look beyond the contours of conventionality, thus making the world believe and accept the fact that taking one’s clothes off for money needn’t be always exploitative. While I can guess the amount of splutter, disbelief and ridicule that she might have stumbled upon, I appreciate her for paying no heeds to those who are drone focussed on finding out the wrong end of the stick. While it might sound sordid to many, we intentionally forget the fact that she has a family to take care of, the reason why is forced to take her clothes off for money.

Though many women have been posing nude for art since ages, we’re still prudish and prejudiced about them, as they willingly stand butt naked for the sake of monetary benefits. Life modelling is both physically exhausting and mentally tiring. Moreover, its takes a commendably extraordinary mind-set to choose a job that involves sitting naked and still for several hours, in front of numerous strangers, gracefully and elegantly. However, she does it absolute pride, akin to the gratification that most of us gain from our day-to-day works. With no enviable looks and desirable figure to boast of, she is an ordinary woman who made herself available to an unusual job. Surprisingly, she is gifted with an amazing confidence and desirably positive attitude that makes her do a job that normal people might be too curious to know and discuss about, but hardly dare to attempt doing it even once. Her astonishing courage made me ponder over a poignant thread of thoughts on her struggle to earn a dignified space in our conservative society which is yet to grow up to accept her profession and change its age-old perceptions about women. The moral brigades around would find it hard to forgive her for challenging their rigid norms. Irrespective of the fact that none of the closed-minded saviours out there would lend her and many such women a helping hand, they would leave no stones unturned to fiercely set-up a cavalry of like-minded culture protectors who might rob her of her only source of revenue and force to embrace death as an escape from sheer poverty.

The awkwardness related to life modelling often comes the misguided idea that nude or semi-nude modelling is the same as that of making oneself vulnerable to be exploited. Misconceptions related to nude modelling are often related to the eroticism that most people look at, whereas, the actuality is way beyond this prejudiced notion. At the outset, no woman would willingly opt to take her clothes off, the reason why I could gauge the terrible familial circumstances that forced her shed her inhibitions and bear the uncomfortableness of being nude in front of a roomful of art students, so that she can feed herself and her children each day. However, in a desperately stereotypical society that’s keen on categorizing and judging people around, I wonder which group will such women would fall into, for being proud of their extraordinary profession. While narrow-mindedness that prevail in our society might mercilessly mock at them mindlessly, I really hope they can uphold their courage, self-respect and belief, thus retaining the happiness and dignity that they enjoy in their unusual profession, while safeguarding themselves from being exploited.

Anecdote – If we can broad-mindedly accept porn stars, laud the gross amount of erotic content in our main stream movies, and applaud the actors without inhibitions, it would be disingenuous to poke fun at a life model who makes a living by working as a nude model, just because it’s a profession that’s way beyond our sphere of understanding.