Truth be told, I did enjoy receiving compliments on my 'young' looks. I even experimented with streaking my hair to a shade of burgundy. My husband enjoyed it when people asked him if I were his daughter. I could only gape open-mouthed at the poor vision of those people.
I enjoyed the comments for a few years. But only till my children grew taller than me and my son started sprouting facial hair. It no longer pleased me when people said, "Oh you don't look like you have such grown-up children".Then one day I realised that I was actually waiting for that comment from the person to whom I had been introduced two minutes back. And that I was disappointed when the comment did not come. That was the wake up call for me. It dawned on me that I had turned into a vain pretentious middle-aged woman, taking her 'young' looks for granted and hooked to people's comments on her physical appearance.And since that day I have become a member of the 'Glad to be grey' club. I have stopped visiting the parlour for the hateful chore of colouring my hair. I now feel a total sense of freedom. No pressure at all. I proudly carry my speedily-turning grey pate to family functions, weddings and parties. The whole experience is new and I am still enjoying the journey. There are days when I am not so happy looking at myself in the mirror. The other day I was looking at some old photographs and the thought did pass my mind that may be I could have waited a few more years before going au naturel. But I am surely not reverting to the old bad habits. Right now I am motivated by the thought that I am among the few women courageous enough to go against a trend. I smile in solidarity when I pass by elegant-looking women sporting smart grey-haired bobs.
I get mixed comments from near and dear ones. Some people are inspired by my courage.Others say I should have waited till after my daughter's marriage (missing the logic here). Most do not know what to make of it and how to react. I got the sweetest compliment from my aged neighbour who thought I still looked young despite my grey hair.
All this 'business of beauty' does bring several thoughts to my mind.
Why do we women do this to ourselves? Why is it so important for us to 'be with it'? We put ourselves through this immense pressure to look good 24x7. We cannot step out of the house till our eyebrows are shaped, facial hair is bleached, hair on the head is dyed, hair on the arms and legs is waxed and hair in the underarms shaved. We look with disdain at fellow women who choose to stay natural, not interfere with the hair in various areas of their bodies. I would just wish for more celebrities to display the courage of Julia Roberts and not be shy of waving at award ceremonies with the hair in their underarms clearly visible. That would be the day for all of us!
The range of commodities on offer for us has only increased with time. Services now target not just skin-deep beauty, but threaten to alter our basic god-given gifts also. So we now have breast augmentation, lipo suction, laser removal of unwanted hair, lightening of skin colour etc.. "Don't like your thin lips? Voila, we can make them fuller", "Your boyfriend likes Angelina Jolie's pout? We can give you one. He will no longer look at Jolie". Ridiculous!!
Do we want to be so fickle-minded and make commodities of ourselves, neatly-packaged gifts to be offered to the guys? Our self-worth cannot be decided by our physical appearance. We do have more substance than that, in our brains that is! Let us show our mettle by our work, our mental strength, our sensitivity, our intelligence and above all by our honesty. Stop being vain. Be natural. Acchha hai.