CHENNAI: Sometimes I wish Gretchen would just eat her own make-up so she could become pretty on the inside,” Alex Bellino from Real Housewives of Orange County says with a wind-defying blowout that looks like it never…moves. Tell me your secrets, please. The insipid demonstrations deliver pretty much what you would expect — palatial houses, diamonds, fancy cars, backstabbing spitefulness. These shows mostly feature Rich Women Doing Things like wearing the same pink velvet dress to the same party, pushing their puppies around in crystal encrusted prams, going shopping and attending charity events.
Of all the inscrutable, Rich Women Fights that they have ever had: this one really made me sit up and think. My issue with this narrative is that not only is it tired and stale, but that it is also extremely problematic. We are routinely urged to be the “best we can be.” We should do this because we are “worth it” implying that if we don’t, we are culpable for “letting ourselves go.” The assumption is that the closer we come to this ideal — this feminine standard of beauty — the happier we will become. The pressure to reach the point of perfection is immense.
The ideal is unattainable for most of us, largely because of the media we consume and the horrid execution of what a “normal girl” looks like. These celebrities are constantly nipped and tucked and photoshopped to perfect their bodies, editing out some body parts completely. It’s difficult to understand what “normal” is, or could be, when this is all that we see. The truth of the matter is that we cannot choose our beauty ideal, we can only choose to agree with it, to become it, or to reject it.
Which brings me to this: Shouldn’t we move toward a culture of big-tent beauty where everyone is welcome? This includes women of colour, obese women, skinny women, women with vitiligo, women who have had C-sections, women with breast augmentation, the hourglass figure, women with grey hair, women with no hair, those who wear no makeup and those who cannot do without. All of us. The beauty tent should be large enough for all of us to fit in it, and still find ourselves beautiful.
My guilty-pleasure-trash-television loving self cannot help but wonder what happens in the season finale though. It’s like the best episode of Scooby Doo but only when they take the mask off the monster, we’re going to find all of us sitting inside it. We are the monsters. The ones who push and promote these standards. The fools and the ones being fooled. In a world where we are constantly told that we are beautiful, how many of us really believe it?
Saumya R Chawla @pixie.secrets
The writer loves to over-share, drink wine & watch period dramas