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The unrealistic and obscene Indian beauty standards

Indians curate their beauty standards just like they cook their food, with a lot of spices (standards) but only a little bit of everything, not too much.

Name any body part and our society will have an unrealistic beauty standard ready for you to match. When a tropical country provides a skin lightening cream (a turnout of 24 billion rupees annually), it can be clearly seen how the Indian beauty standards are unrealistic beyond bounds.

Don't believe us? Well, let's dive into these standards then, shall we?

The Checklist of the obscene beauty standards!

Hair

Indian woman in a yellow churidhar with long hair

Women with thick, long, straight hair or black curls are considered to be attractive. However, we must warn you, if your hair is too curly it looks too undesirable and if your hair is too long, you look like a Bhenji (aunty).

Straight hair is considered sophisticated and admired for. Anything else will only be an open invitation to countless home remedies and remarks.

Forehead ( yes, you read it right!)

Woman in ethnic attire standing behind green leaves

Apparently, people have an opinion about your forehead size too!
According to one Quora user, having a wide forehead is more pleasing.
If reading this makes you want to smash your forehead on the wall (metaphorically), we understand!

Eyes

Woman with a scarf covering her lower part of face

Having almond-shaped eyes is considered to be highly attractive. Also, the lighter the shade of your tropical eyes, the more angelic they are likely to be perceived. However, if it’s too green or too blue, well then you will be called a cat or witch.

Not only that, if your eyes are too small you will be teased with offensive, racist names and if they are too big you might be considered dumb or naive. 

Eyebrows

Woman in a green salwar kameez

Having thick eyebrows is deemed to be pleasing to the eyes. However, not too hairy because then you will look scary. And definitely NO to UNIBROW! If you have it then you will definitely get remarks to get rid of the bridge between your brows.

Nose

Close up of a woman in an Indian attire

Having a sharp, thin nose is the dream. Not a sensible person’s dream but a dream of many Indians, regardless. The sharper, the better. But again, too pointy and you are out of the race.

Lips

Black and white portrait of woman with a jacket

Soft, plump, and rosy lips are a delight. The obsessions make people try the weirdest methods to make it more big and plumper.

Face

Woman in a black saree

A sharp jawline but chubby cheeks in a symmetrical roundish face is considered to be eye-pleasing, and even though not everyone in a country of 1.37 Billion people can have that face structure, it’ doesn’t stop the unnecessary enforcement.

Skin complexion

Dark skin toned Indian woman

It is only a crime to not speak about how Indians have a big obsession with fair skin. The extent Indian moms go to de-tan their daughters by applying anything and everything that just might work shows you how our society perceives darker skin tones. The above reasons are enough to imply why the skin-lightening industry still thrives in our country.

Until the last 5 years, all the actresses you would see on the big screen were just the right shade of fair. Even now, there are very few actresses with darker skin complexions being casted in major and lead roles. Speaking about movies, we have also seen skin complexions determining the economic status and job opportunities or even relationships!

Body Hair

Woman shaving her hairy legs

Body hair is a big NO in the Indian society! Your arms, legs, eyebrows, face, armpits, back and private parts should be waxed or else it just looks unruly. 

There is a reason there is a variety of shaving or waxing products available in the market, the hate towards our own natural body hair is too high to ignore.

Shaving or waxing your body hair is your choice but mocking it or portraying body hair as less desirable is something which we cannot fathom!

Body

Woman in an ethnic saree with accessories

The body beauty standards are so unrealistic and disturbing that discussing them in detail seems immoral. Having an hourglass figure is the goal. But being thin and slender is also the goal. Height should be tall but not too tall because then how will we ever find our meant to be partner. 

These body standards not only cross the line but sprint as far away from the line as possible. Not only do they result in lower self-confidence and armor anyone and everyone with the right to pass comments but they also give rise to a plethora of skin and hair products and treatments that might have harmful chemicals resulting in dangerous side effects.

The big question is, what exactly gives birth to these unrealistic beauty standards? Let’s find out.

HOW did we arrive at the checklist?

Group of Indian women in traditional attire

Much of the blame for the obsession with fair skin can be given to colonialism. According to the book- Black Skin, White Masks by Frantz Fannon, a French psychiatrist, says that colonization doesn’t only result in inferiority with respect to territory or financial matters but also psychological.

Fanon also believes that an inferiority complex sweeps into the mind of the colonized society once they witness the massacre of their culture and freedom at the hands of the colonizer.

Once the inferiority complex comes into the picture, we try to copy everything of the ones we consider superior to us. Cue to the European standards.

This is a major reason we seek European features. This along with the media constantly forcing the unrealistic body image down our throats by idealizing the few actresses who pass the checklist. And in case they don’t, then idealizing their photoshopped and air-brushed version.

HOW do we get rid of the checklist?

Woman with full makeup with a traditional nose ring

The sad part is that it might take years to uproot the checklist out of the minds of 1.37 billion people. Another sadder part is that the best probability we have of this checklist going away is it being replaced by some other one. The other one might be good, might be bad but there is no way to know for sure. 

What we can do however is love ourselves. Love ourselves and everything that society considers a “flaw”. Because let’s be honest, society has been wrong about a lot of things, and the checklist is most definitely one of them.

It might overwhelm all of us as to how to fight with a humongous organization that is our society, but all we need to do is love ourselves and each other a little more.That is how much powerful love is. It’s a simple emotion that comes easily to humans that can destroy years of systematic double standards. And something even more powerful than love is self-love. Loving yourself despite what the world says is one of the best ways to fight unrealistic beauty standards. All bodies are beautiful, it’s our minds that need to change.

Just like the American Playwright Eve Elsner once said,
“Stop trying to fix your body, it was never broken.”

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