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No Apology For

                  Makeup

Who decides that wearing a lipstick is being “you” or choosing to go sans makeup is “who you are”? I keep that right to myself.

The other day, I was at a café when I overheard a conversation from the next table. There were four women and one of them was sharing how she has decided to go sans makeup because in doing that she felt more comfortable in her skin. Another one of them revealed that she doesn’t wax or thread her brows. It was an interesting conversation and just when I was thinking of joining in with a slightly differing point of view, the chatter turned to makeup shaming. That’s where they lost me. I respect those who choose to not choose cosmetics. It is a choice that they have made but why should that become a standard for another?

When I was eight, my mother opened a salon in our large spacious ancestral home in Calcutta. Of course, this move of her was seen as audacious by most of our relatives, and from that day on my mother, sister and I – and my father for “allowing” something as outrageous as this – have been constantly judged for our choice of making “beauty” an integral part of our lives.

Ma would always let me experiment with makeup and encouraged me to get “beauty treatments” done and therefore, makeup and cosmetics were never anything “novel” for me. Because it was so accessible it was never a lure.

However, for the longest time and from a very early age I have had to field questions about and defend beauty. Most of my relatives didn’t expect me to study beyond graduation and were surprised when I got through Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. In JNU, I was judged as “the-girl-who-wore-makeup” and later when I left academics to become a “beauty journalist”, I was asked, “Oh! Is that even a field of journalism?”  And that’s when I decided to never explain my choices for makeup.

Yet there are times that I feel exasperated. I mean, does anyone ask you, “hey, why do you keep your house so beautiful”? And do you find yourself explaining why you do that? Then why should I feel compelled to answer or for that matter, why should anyone have the audacity to ask why I choose to wear makeup, or why I love cosmetics?

Agreed, that at times our profession and the booming beauty industry does compel women to conform to the “ideals” of beauty like fair skin and eternal youth. Stereotypes need to be broken but let that not create another stereotype and another measure for perfection. As it is with anything else in life, makeup or no makeup, it is a choice that you need to make, and make without an apology.

My aunt-in-law has a short crop of gray hair and she wears the brightest of eye shadows and lipsticks. She embraces the grays and revels in the colours. And, of course, she doesn’t explain her choices to anyone. And that indeed is some chutzpah!

 

Be your own beautiful!

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