At an all-time high, the Indian market has a specific adulation for cosmetic products, and with an ever-increasing consumer base, a significant population loves to devour these maquillages which marinate in their own means.

The era of the 90’s witnessed a new wave in India, with the country celebrating its colours in epic proportions, the new
vigour was fuelled by the liberalisation policies which were brought by P. V. Narsimha Rao and Dr. Manmohan Singh; India expanded with bigger aspirations and many anticipated what they called as a ‘bright future’ for India. But, with this celebration of colours, the decade also witnessed a market that sought to reimagine India’s beauty standards with a reiteration of the pigmentocratic demarcations. The global cosmetic industry couldn’t have asked for a better pedestal to showcase its capitalistic endeavours, especially at a time when India’s women were busy clinching international beauty pageants, and giving India and its millions of women, all the more reason to be proud of.

In a single decade, India won seven beauty pageants, beginning from Sushmita Sen who brought home the most coveted title of ‘Miss Universe’ and Aishwarya Rai being crowned with the title of ‘Miss World’ in the year 1994, three years later Diana Hayden clinched the Miss World title again in 1997, and Yukta Mookhey
repeated the world rule in 1999. The year 2000 registered itself on the onus of India’s modern goddesses, as Lara
Dutta brought the Miss Universe title back home, and Priyanka Chopra did the same by clinching the Miss World title. Dia Mirza completed the triad by becoming the second Miss Asia Pacific from India, setting a unique record for any nation by winning up all the beauty pageants in a single year. Subsequently, these women stepped into the film industry and the world of advertising that sought to entrust these women for mediating the dreams of Indian women through the products they endorsed, that majorly involved the cosmetic and cosmeceutical objects.

 India finds its reverence for adoration and beauty since the ages of Ayurveda with Kajal, and Vermillion as its forerunners, the British Colonialism that exacerbated colorism has driven the societal perceptions to an extent that cosmetic industries exploited heavily. The formula for a successful and empowered lady was apparently sold in tubes and compacts that promised unprecedented prosperity, hair colour sought to reflect the confidence of women, and facial features were ought to be highlighted. Companies justified every new product
as an irrefutable need catering to the requirements of the women and soon men.

Over the years, the cosmetic industry has revamped tremendously, especially with the online market boom and diversification of products that has seeped into every bag holding. Major brands have shown interest in this field that is increasing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 25 per cent and is all prepared to mark India among the top five global markets. This also saw the rise of new brands like Nikal, that planned to bridge the gap between efficient consumer requirements and the grand brand show. But, amidst this stiff competitive market, this industry tends to forget the colour prejudices that it injects in a multi-racial land, and materialistic representations that might not represent a Pan India scape or the child labor that is involved in mica extraction for beauty products especially in states like Odisha and Jharkhand where the extracted mica is sent to corporates for products like
eyeshadow, blush, and lipstick that add a reflective finish to them.

Many major brands still resort to the practice of animal testing for checking the safety and hypoallergenic properties that is often crude and immoral. The long-awaited Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) (Amendment) Bill, 2020 is just a small step in this affair that could ban promotions of fairness or anti-ageing products. and the advocacy by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Humane Society
International (HSI) with regard to animal rights is gaining recognition continually, yet the future of this industry can turn
chaotic in the cosmos of cosmetics.

Image Credits: Deccan Chronicle

Faizan Salik 

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People at this moment are running against themselves in a pursuit of perfection. Does perfection even exists? How is this pursuit affecting you? Read on to know more.

We all aspire to be a better version of ourselves every day. Growth is an indispensable part of our lives and we must strive to enhance ourselves and keep adding new feathers in our wings. But for some, things don’t end just at personal growth for betterment. They are on a different race altogether, an endless pursuit- the pursuit of perfection. And, there exists a stark difference between the two.

When one is striving to grow to be better, they are fueled by motivation and inspiration but when one is driven to achieve the unattainable state of perfection, they are fueled by a state of discontentment, low self esteem and unrealistic expectation.

There are no two ways about the fact that perfection is a myth. It is a state of mind and cannot be achieved through any outer validation or achievement. It is imagined to be the state of flawlessness and completeness where nothing can possibly go wrong. This very imagination is enough to reaffirm the fact that this state is unachievable. If you are one amongst the people who are constantly hustling to achieve ‘perfection’, then sorry to burst the bubble but you aren’t getting there. You’re getting to a life of depression and discontentment from yourself, despite of all the efforts and hard work you put in.

The downsides of this pursuit of perfection doesn’t just end at it being a futile chase; it can have far worse implications. Studies define perfectionism as “a combination of excessively high personal standards and overly critical self-evaluations.” The very motivation to embark upon this pursuit is driven by a lack of self-esteem and unhappiness with one’s own self.

When one strives to become ‘perfect’, they become over critical of theirselves and indulge in the unhealthy practice of self-sabotaging. Even their most stellar achievements appear to be too less as compared to what more can be achieved.

We are constantly seeking more. This is a constant look out for something more amazing, more validating or more fulfilling.

And this cycle results in a persistent state of unhappiness where nothing or no one in life makes us joyous. As a result, in its worst consequences, it directly impacts our mental health. When one’s pursuit bears no fruit, they can get engulfed into anxiety or depression. This is alarming!

Advertisements feed upon this very insecurity and make us feel that something is missing in our lives. Social media is a worldview of perfection. It instigates within a person the idea that everyone around them is living a perfect life and makes them loathe their very existence. But it is important to remember that nobody lets their flawed self surface on the feed of Instagram without filtering it. It must be remembered at all times that actions such as posting vacation or party pictures or pictures of one’s expensive car or phone are no proof of them living a perfect life.

To liberate oneself from this futile pursuit of perfection, it is extremely essential to learn the art of acceptance. Acceptance of who you are, however flawed and far from being perfect. Also, it is pertinent to understand that this pursuit is robbing one of happiness and pushing them into an endless dungeon of self-loathe.


Shreya Agrawal

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Feature Image Credits- Scopio

The strong winds of having a “perfect figure” have swept us away with their glamorous appeal. The hype has been created for having a slim body, and a lot of it has to do with the celebrities’ idea of a zero figure and an hourglass-shaped body alluring the public to a huge extent.

 It is not to be denied that, due to the pressure that has been created to maintain a particular figure and size, people have started giving thought to fitness and health. People seem to have realised that it is important to have a fit body and that it is important to work towards it by indulging in physical activities. In a lot of parks of the capital city, men and women can be seen enjoying a morning walk or practising yoga.

But a major consequence that has occurred due to the perfect body hype is that we have now started associating beauty with a slim figure. Not only is the idea problematic, but it is also highly demeaning for those who do not have a slim body. In a survey conducted by our correspondent on the same matter, with the sample size of 50 people, half concluded that the general belief links beauty with having a slim body. However, around 40% of people did not agree with this concept at all. A second-year student says to this, “The people who are fat or obese need to become slim only to lead a healthy lifestyle and not to become beautiful because they already are beautiful. And being slim should not be a standard, because even that has consequences. Personally, I am very slim, and that does not make me the ‘ideal size zero’, because I face many health complications due to it. And people tell me to put on weight so that I can look beautiful. It’s this hypocrisy and mindset that needs to be changed.”

The hypocrisy that this student mention is perhaps present in the very air we breathe in. And another very interesting example of this hypocrisy can be seen in the social media accounts of various personalities and ‘influencers’ who first put up weight-loss stories and then proclaim with excitement the notion of “self-love”. To love your body, you must first become beautiful and to become beautiful, you need to become thin, is the idea that they seem to spread. A statement by another student sums it up pretty well as she says, “Having a fitter body is fine but associating health with size-zero figure is wrong. However, I don’t subscribe to the “love your body” argument. If someone is obese then s/he needs to do something about it. The modern notions of beauty which I call ‘Insta beauty’ is fake and cosmetic. I feel like people should stop following these models who do nothing but make other people insecure about their bodies and promote products which they never use themselves.”

Although the idea of having a slim body gained significance primarily during the Victorian times when women were supposed to wear corsets and what not to highlight their small waist, a lot of scholars believe that the modern conception is hence, a result of the colonial effect. Another very important thing we must remember is that during the Greco-Roman times, a woman with a plump body was regarded as beautiful. If one looks at the paintings of those times, one would come across female bodies with fat thighs and chubby body, which is just as beautiful. Speaking in the Indian context, in Kalidasa’s famous play, Abhijnanasakuntalam, Shakuntala is described in such terms that the present reader would perhaps condemn. Her plump thighs are seen as a positive aspect because it would mean she will be able to bear a child well – a popular conception in those times.

“I’m trying to decondition myself from thinking that thin people are pretty but it is difficult to do so when these ideals are constantly reinforced to you. I find the plus sized movement discouraging, they make normal sized women as plus models; which further negatively impacts our perception of size”, expresses another student. And this is exactly the problem with the whole issue. One involuntarily caves in due to the pressure that one feels is coming from all around. Many teenagers, in recent times, have been reported to be suffering from mental health issues because of the stress to mould their bodies into a particular manner. And this is why the glorification of having a slim body is problematic.

Thus, it is important for us to maintain a healthy body by engaging in physical activities. But the inspiration behind this must be that your aim is a healthy lifestyle rather than succumbing to the societal ideals of beauty.


Image Credits: The Indian Express



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Being skinny is not as ideal as it seems to a layman, read on to find out more.

From what society dictates- petite bodies, thin waists, skinny legs have been considered desirable. But even after spending eighteen years in this skinny body, it is safe to say that I have never felt beautiful. A common misconception among people is to generalise this concept of beauty. Beauty exists on a spectrum, we all perceive people and how they look differently. While there is a majority and minority perspective it is unfair to dismiss the problems of either.

The concept of skinny shaming refers to criticising people’s bodies for being too thin or underweight. People often talk about fat-shaming, but skinny-shaming is often invisible to many people. The reasons for this are obvious and understood. Being skinny does, to an extent, come as a privilege which is something one cannot deny. But the problem arises when we refuse to acknowledge skinny-shaming which could affect an individual’s mental and physical health, esteem and confidence, daily functioning and so on.

Today in pop-culture ‘thicc’ and ‘big booty’ has been popularised and equated to ‘looking like a snacc’ to spread love to all sizes, negative connotations have now been attached to those who do not look that way. Beyond song lyrics being offensive, such as in Anaconda by Nicki Minaj, to people who are skinny, several instances of antagonising thin people also arise.

A few weeks ago, I almost fainted in a mall, instead of helping me two elderly women pointed at me publicly and assumed “I had not been eating to become skinny like Instagram models”. Several remarks and comments become a part of our lives especially in Indian households and even by strangers, where skinny girls are told to eat more to give birth to healthy babies or to look good in their wedding dress. Most people are in fact ignorant to the concept of metabolism and oblivious to the idea of body issues.

Jokes on skinny people are endless. From “Arrey, hawa chal rahi hai kuch pakad lo, udd jaogi” to “I can hold your entire wrist with two fingers” to even “Don’t worry, not all boys like curvy girls”.  Being compared to sticks, scales, children in Africa are all experiences we face in school. Seeing other boys and girls become older looking and here you are still fitting into a t-shirt you bought in class nine.

Image credits: BodyLoveByEmily
Image credits: BodyLoveByEmily

The craze to become skinny has reached many highs- models eating once a day to exercising endlessly to even surviving on napkins. But it is normal to feel isolated in a place where curves are pedestalised and complaining is out of question. On the first idea, several body issues also arise out of being too skinny such as- on wearing jeans, people commenting how super skinny your legs are, wearing loose clothes, several failed attempts at highlighting your ‘shape’, staring at yourself in the mirror and hoping you were bigger in places by just a few inches. Being disappointed at not finding how-to-gain-weight-apps, trying mom’s nuskas of eating papaya, mango and what not, only to see no change and feel unhappy.

On the second idea, thin people are not even allowed to feel bad about themselves. Any dissatisfaction is dismissed with a “You are so lucky you are skinny” and every hurtful comment is hidden under the garb of “It was just a compliment ya”. These people are not even allowed to speak out about their experiences of facing body insecurities.

Skinny isn’t just beautiful. Skinny, fat, hourglass, pear, apple, fork and whatever other body category we are forced into are all appealing and attractive. No one has been a bigger critique of us than we are of ourselves, we cannot mold ourselves into what society dictates next but can try to accept ourselves. To those who love you, you will be cherished. Being big or small will never define you as a person, only what you make of yourself.

Image credits: Kali Kardia Apparel

Shivani Dadhwal

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Our hair is often seen as a reflection of our identity. How we perceive ourselves and how we take on battles can be determined by our hairstyle. However, the dynamics of a woman’s hair and power go a long way back.

In ancient times, long tresses were believed to be a symbol of femininity, beauty, and desire. Hindu widows were expected to cut their hair short or completely shave their heads. This was primarily to establish the fact that they are not someone who can be desired or have sexual desires themselves.  This is best depicted in Deepa Mehta’s movie ‘Water’, where Madhumati forces Kalyani(Lisa Ray), a widow into prostitution. As long as she benefits from this business, she allows Lisa Ray to have long, beautiful tresses. When she learns about her budding romance with Narayan (John Abraham), her first step is to chop her hair for having dared to transgress the boundaries.

This method of punishing women by cutting off her hair can also be seen in western culture. Collaboration horizontale or collaboration feminine was the (supposed) sexual intercourse that some French women had with German soldiers after the Battle of France in 1940. The liberation of France in 1944 is eclipsed by the treatment that was meted out to these French women. They were subjected to the humiliation of a public head-shaving. It is said that at least 20,000 women are known to have had their head shaved forcefully.

In the Victorian period, a woman’s hair was seen as a means of expressing her desires and emotions.  The Victorian women were supposed to keep their hair tied and could only let it down in their bedrooms. This stemmed from the belief that the power and beauty of her hair should only be reserved for her husband. In ‘Rape of the Lock’ written in Augustan age, Alexander Pope describes Belinda’s locks as chains for enslavement, as snares and traps for men. Thus, her locks project the power that she has over the opposite sex.

Draupadi in Mahabharata refused to tie her hair by which she was dragged by Duhashasana. She vowed that she would not tie her hair till he was killed. Her open hair became a sign of rebellion against the injustice she was subjected to. Therefore, we see that from time to time, women’s hair has acquired new meanings and expressions. She kept on experimenting with her hair until she found a style that brought out her persona and her strength of character. In 1950’s a short bob cut, just below the ears know as “Liberation Hairdo”, became very popular amongst Chinese women. This haircut signified liberation and women taking control of their lives.

Even in modern times, a lot can be deciphered by a woman’s choice of hairstyle. Examples of it can be traced to television characters Alicia Florrick in Good Wife and Olivia Pope in Scandal. In the beginning, Alicia is shown as supporting her unfaithful husband, with flat, swept back hair. However, as soon as she decides to take control of her life, she is shown to have cascading, luscious and coiffed hair. Olivia Pope is shown supporting bangs and curls when she was young and helping Fitzgerald Grant in his elections. But as she begins to find her professional footing, she starts adopting a cleaner cut. Her hair becomes sleeker and longer. This change is suggestive of the maturity and experience that she has acquired with age.

Therefore, it would not be wrong to say that how a woman decides to wear her hair is suggestive of her personality, identity, and disposition.


Feature Image Credits: Getty Images

Anukriti Mishra

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