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Changing face of Indian Woman
Folks, now there’s a botox centre around; that is a centre where women can go and do a botox just like they go down for eye brow tweeze—right at our door step. It is the next beauty wave after slimming centres in our city, just like a decade back the V.L.C.C.s’ (a chain of slimming clinics) and likes had mushroomed in our neighbourhoods now plastics’ or plastic treatments are permeating into our lives. We are not the opulent South Delhi, infact we are on the border and whats more this colony of fifteen hundred families does not have volumes to offer as clients yet the cosmeticians are here with face lifts and wrinkle erasers. Does that mean an average middle class Indian woman can dispense away money to change the way she looks in her forties and is also willing to take risks with her appearance?
Whoever thought Indian middle class was caught in the daily existential problems can now rethink because cosmetic treatments are by any stretch of imagination an extravagance. This growing upper middle class is shaping, toning, and erasing lines, dressing up in brands head to toe for what I don’t know. May be they are regulars at some Baba’ s discourses or just sit pretty at home but they are fast losing themselves over to the illusion of youth.
Now I wonder if these women are only empowering themselves or fighting depression or it might be that they have just found money and allurements are springing up. If T.V. soaps are to be believed then women as much as men are straying outside the box of traditional marriage and it might be that they need these age fixing treatments to allure other men or just keep their men from stepping out of the box. Is botox yet another manifestation of mid age crisis or let’s say the ones with means want to create a world projected by media in their own life. For on our television screens now there are size zero women in bikinis, with hair that never grey and faces that glow like pearl, telling us that we can look like them as well. An endorsement by celebrated beauties makes age defying myth wholly saleable to a woman sitting in front of a television not sure what she wants from her life at this juncture.
Who then is the changing face of India, these women on surgeon’s chair erasing crow’s feet so that they look young in their pictures or is there another woman somewhere changing in a more important way? A slow, radical deeper change is taking place in the minds of another set of women who are liberating their lives from parochial, patriarchal and oppressive mindsets. They will never write a book on feminist ideas or appear on television discussions but they are undergoing a metamorphosis that will bring about a social change in times to come. Let me cite the story of one such woman—she is a household help in the neighbourhood, an immigrant from a backward village in West Bengal; the ones who live below the poverty line eking out a living from nothing. They have no resources back home and women, the twice marginalised married like cattle live on the brink. Not entitled to self-respect or expression—neither verbal nor sexual, their sense of self is threatened every moment at home and place of work. I met her the first time when she came for a chat with a woman who helps us with domestic chores, seething with anger against the persecuting social set up that treats women as chattel, she looked the very Durga. Impoverished life in a shanty with three children and an alcoholic husband who beat her for money each night and to add to it the humiliation of being beaten in public was her lot. Roar of this little, frail woman was not just the pent up anger against the system, it was an uprising of an individual. After a few months I heard she had per force driven the man out of her life. Now she is wholly your single woman of the city, bringing up children without any help and living in deprivation but holding her head very high. In liberating herself from the shackles of marriage she stood up against the socio-cultural conditioning of her own mind. I know of women who would rather live with a rich wife beater than earn a living, and here was a woman alone in a foreign city axing the oppressive institution so that she may live with dignity and raise her children in peace. I did perhaps out of my own stereotyped value system suggest to her another marriage or cohabitation which she dismissed outrightly.
“What do I need a man for—no I have my children and I need no one.”
Well then I thought of all the lovelorn women around seeking male attention or clinging to men for fear of loneliness. In comparison with them is this frail young woman not afraid of lonely years ahead. The face is changing friends, it is now a more beautiful, proud face with embers in eyes ---this average Indian woman is now becoming the Durga she is meant to be.
Author: Rashma N. Kalsie