Vanity is essentially a feminine weakness, an inherent urge to pamper one's person with aids of beauty. Nothing new to the species. Has existed ever since the race was created. As everything else the art of beauty has not escaped the waves of modernization.
For thousands of years women have been obsessed with the concept of beauty. Helen, the heroine of an epic is said to have possessed a face that was capable of launching a thousand ships, years of wars and adventures.
Cleopatra the Egyptian queen is said to have pampered her beauty with baths in donkey's milk! Back home, the renowned dancer Padmini's popular pose in temple sculpture shows her scanning her facial features in a mirror. A record etched in stone!
There is no doubt whatsoever about the continuation of the meticulous care taken to preserve, protect, enhance feminine charms. Only the medium, the materials, the methods have changed giving me some misgivings! Natural aids are being traded for artificial, synthetic chemicals in the course of change of cosmetic trends and fashions putting precious health at hazard.
Kajal/kohl or eyetex is harmless. Can this be safely said about the mascara and array of eye-shadows and liners? The lead content in lipstick is proved to be harmful. Reddening the nails and palms with mehendi leaf paste was a healthy practice. But painting the nails with enamel paint prevents the nails from breathing making them lose their natural luster.
All kinds of fairness creams, moisturizers, gels and foundation lotions have become part and parcel of a woman's accessories. In olden days only theatre performers, screen players used make-up. Then bridal make-up came into vogue. Now a party or outing calls for a visit to the parlor or a quick self-help with an elaborate kit every woman possesses. There is not a single women's magazine without a column for beauty tips. When I happen to read the face masks prepared with milk and fruits I invariably wonder if all those items might do lot more good if taken in instead of applying on the exterior!
Beauty parlors are doing brisk business and taking a course to start one has been an easy route to a lucrative job for many aspiring women entrepreneurs. Innumerable stories of tragic skin allergies, irreparable damages to sensitive areas are not uncommon. These beauty parlors also cater to more luxuries like massaging and even the oldest trade it is rumored!!!
Having moved from the pristine purity of rural atmosphere of palatial mansions surrounded by fragrant plants, trees and creepers, the urban dwellers have to resort to aroma therapy! Women who decked their hair with heavenly scented flowers have now lost the habit of wearing flowers on their head. Instead they spend hefty sums on small vials of exotic, synthetic perfumes spraying which can induce wheezing in sensitive creatures like me! In a crowded public place the mixture of these artificial scents brings a sickening effect on me and makes me nostalgic about our incomparable tropical flowers.
In the market side a major chunk of world's trade seems to be cosmetics promoted by beauty pageants all over the world. This trend has served to rewrite codes of feminine propriety and modesty. Barriers of cultural differences are being successfully erased putting our Indian woman on par with the emancipated, enlightened western woman. A fine example of globalization. An accomplishment of dubious merit, are we to be proud or ashamed to compromise our feminine essence? All this baring and daring is very scaring to me!!!
Cosmetology has gained a prestigious place in the medical field. It is not those who have their features damaged in accidents or those who are born with congenital defects who go for cosmetic surgery. Cine stars and fashionable ladies correct, enhance their features, a height of vanity.
Maintaining a chic body with healthy lifestyle is ignored and the unsightly girth gets corrected by liposuction. A roundabout and extravagant exercise! The question that pops in my mind about this mania for slim figure in the modern women is while they proclaim themselves an emancipated species from male dependency, they are unaware of still being enslaved by male standards of slim beauty! What do they strive for? Male admiration? Is that not a sign of slavery?
Gone are the days when grey hairs and wrinkles were sure signs of respect and wisdom of experience. Anti-aging creams, botox and hair dyes are the crazy trends getting popular. The high risks they carry, the serious side effects and possible loss of life do not seem to deter the aspirants of youthful beauty.
In the mad race for beauty does vanity put reason and health in the back seat?