Ice breakers – the first few sentences you say to someone when you meet them. To make them comfortable. To warm up a social interaction.
So what are the first few things women say to other women in a social gt (leaving out the men for now)? Typically, after the salaam or hi, it’s about “you look lovely”, “where do you get your hair done?”, “relaxing karaee hai baalon kee?”, “which lawn is this?”, “nice handbag!! LV?”. And honestly speaking, I myself often do this. Don’t know what else to talk about for starters of a social meet-up. Also, no other way is such sure shot popularity-gaining methodology….nothing works like praising a woman about how she looks. Also because unconsciously, I know that this is what I like to hear as well when I go somewhere. Somewhere, as women, our self-esteem is tied up to how we look, not who we are or what we do. And the brightest, the smartest, the humblest and the most down-to-earth of us also fall into the vanity trap.
Apart from the obvious disadvantages of excessive vanity, one of the problems is that the actually more important parts of your personality take a back seat. We hardly know many of our friends in reality. We know what they look like, but not who they are or what they do.
What made me think over it more today was this brilliant blog by Lisa Bloom in Huff Post titled “How To Talk To Little Girls” in which Bloom traces it back to our childhood. What is the first thing you say to a 3, 5 or 7 year old? Unknowingly, we perpetrate this conditioning in little girls who will be women tomorrow by talking to them about “ooooh how pretty is your frock” and “did mom do your hair?” or “where do you get these shoes?”. While in itself, there is nothing wrong with complimenting a little girl or a woman on her looks, there is something seriously wrong with making it the pivot of the conversation, the ONLY thing we seem to notice, and reiterating to the other person (a female) that “hey, how you look is the most important part of you. That is who you are!!!”
Listen to what Bloom says in her blog: “Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. It sets them up for dieting at age 5 and foundation at age 11 and boob jobs at 17 and Botox at 23. As our cultural imperative for girls to be hot 24/7 has become the new normal, American women have become increasingly unhappy. What’s missing? A life of meaning, a life of ideas and reading books and being valued for our thoughts and accomplishments.”
When we become used to, as girls, that everyone compliment us on our appearance, how we look becomes our core value even as we grow older. We judge ourselves according to how we look, hot or not, and not on the basis of who we are.
When we have been subjected to this, the same attitude is then transferred to the men in our lives. Mostly sons. For I do believe that behind every “superficial ogler who wants Miss World as biwi (not to forget she should be able to make qeema bharay karelay)”, there are mommies and chaachis and aapis and cousins who have conditioned him to think that “LOOKS” is the single most important currency when it comes to women. No doubt, physical attraction is a natural pre-requisite when you choose someone for your (life) partnership, but it being the only one is just sad. And this sadness is reflected in matrimonial advertisements to the fullest.
The media doesn’t help….it milks every social attitude to it’s advantage. And so, “shaadee” is synonymous with “Khilee khilee ranaai” and “Goree rangat”.
So here we are. In a world where we are actually beginning to believe in “Kill me, but make me beautiful”.
My point here is not to undermine physical beauty. I am not implying that one should appear unkempt and disheveled. I am a proponent of maintenance of everything – your house, your car, your relationships, your brains…..as well as your looks. Work on it. Look good and feel good. But don’t make it the core of your existence. There is more to you.
So next time, girls, let’s talk about more than LOOKS!
Highly recommended reading: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-bloom/how-to-talk-to-little-gir_b_882510.html?ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false