After announcing the countrywide lockdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi listed some essential services that would remain functional during the shutdown. Doctors, media, grocery stores, chemists, etc. all found a place on that list.
Unfortunately (for brown girls) and fortunately (for their body hair), our parlour ‘aunty’ didn’t make it to the list.
Apart from bringing an unprecedented lockdown, the coronavirus outbreak has also enforced many lifestyle changes. From no make-up looks, bed hair to roaming around braless, quarantine life has made thriving in pyjamas cooler. Here comes a beauty standard that’s finally accessible to all. And our dear Instagram influencers seem to have given their seal of approval by embracing a pillow-wardrobe.
These newly adopted beauty standards are starkly different from our old ones —where women were stripped raw by parlour ‘aunties’ harassing them for being ‘hairy’ and a constant battle against bra underwires.
No one’s looking
In the light of online classes and a work-from-home culture, ‘straight out of bed’ looks have become the norm. Why, you ask?
Because no one’s looking.
The lockdown has harshly exposed the stark reality of our beauty standards. A standard, by connotation, is one that is defined by others and how they view you. This unprecedented quarantine has now conveniently removed the aspect of the ‘other’, forcing us to make a decision on whether these beauty standards are really our own.
At this point, a friend recalling how she likes to dress up ‘for herself’ comes to my mind. And no one is denying that, but most women also dress up because they are raised in a society that expects them to do so. Many women hold this weighted expectation so close to their hearts that they begin to believe that it’s what they truly want.
Poking fun at the act of removing facial hair, mimicry artist and popular comedian, Saloni Gaur, while playing ‘DU wali didi’ in one of her Covid-19 lockdown videos, said, “Sabko sirf apne upper lip aur apni eyebrow ki tension hai (Everyone is only worried about their upper lips and eyebrows).”
DU wali didi in Lockdown. pic.twitter.com/N3hIaeXMuw
— Saloni Gaur (@salonayyy) April 10, 2020
Chance to change
Brown girls on the internet are incessantly joking about how they would run to their parlour ‘aunties’ right after the lockdown is lifted. This makes me question whether these new and relaxed beauty standards will actually stand the test of time.
Here is an opportunity, a clean slate, if only we let go of our old ways and let them perish in their derogatory ways. It is a chance to free our breasts from the shackles of expectations and that painful underwire.
A post pandemic world has great potential to finally have a successful ‘bra-burning’ movement.
The year of 1968 witnessed a protest against the Miss America beauty pageant in New Jersey, United States. This protest sparked the rise of a ‘bra-burning feminist’. These newly discovered feminists were “tired of making coffee but not policy”.
While the ‘bra-burning’ was iconic, the movement at the time opened conversations on reproductive rights, abortion, orgasms, workplace inequality, relationships, rape, daily harassment, etc.
These women tossed their lipsticks, make-up, high heels and mops in a ‘Freedom Trash Can’. Ironically, they never ended up burning bras and many claim that it was just a rumour. Maybe a post-pandemic world calls for this opportunity to finish what history started.
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