Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Don't rub your eyes - that IS Ekta Kapoor. India's K serial queen, famous for her 'I don't give a damn how I look' vibes. Here she is - new, improved and almost pleasant looking on the cover of the in-flight magazine of Kingfisher airlines.
See what a difference a bit of warpaint, highlights and better styling can do! Though you don't really need an expert to tell you to lose the Tirupati-Balaji-tikka (God will understand - it just doesn't go with ALL outfits!).
I have a feeling this new look is linked to Ekta turning 30. It's just the milestone which makes you re-examine your life. Or, maybe she's just caught the makeover virus currently in the air!
Two centuries ago Hans Christian Andersen wrote his classic 'Ugly Duckling' tale. And India is currently reliving that fable. Except here we don't just wake up from hibernation and turn into swans. We have an army of experts helping us do it.
It all started with Jassi's much awaited transformation from plain Jane to glam puss. A host of other telly-characters from Zee's Kareena to Sony's Pooja (Yeh meri life hai) followed - although with far less fanfare.
Now, there are makeovers happening everywhere...
NDTV Profit gives ordinary middle aged folk makeovers with the help of fashion/ make up gurus (a concept copied from similar foreign shows but nevertheless)
Social butterfly Queenie Dhody gives makeovers to readers of Midday
Companies like L'Oreal and Vichy hold events in malls where women can walk in for a '15 minute makeover' (and hopefully go home with half a dozen of their products)
A big leap
A decade ago, if you went to a beauty parlour for shaadi ka make-up the lady there would coat you with a thick pancake of foundation and bright lipstick - regardless of your skin type/ outfit/ complexion. The effect was horrendous but was the prevailing standard.
I have a whole album of hilarious wedding photos to prove it ...
Today, the beautician is far more skilled and client far more aware - and such disasters are hence averted! Even my 5 year old daughter knows how to apply lipstick (though she isn't allowed to - except for special occassions).
There are those who lament the new emphasis on looks but I think it's a good thing. I grew up believing 'looks don't really matter' - which is hogwash. They do.
I'm not saying one should be obsessed with them, but yes - taking a little extra care to be well groomed and presentable can make a big difference for two reasons:
1) People who believe they look good feel more confident and that reflects in how they deal with the world.
2) It may be an evolutionary thing but human beings are programmed to place a value on "looks".
As New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd recently wrote, "... We’ve seen those studies showing that aesthetics is hard-wired in the brain - that even babies have an innate sense of beauty, choosing to gaze longer at lovelier faces."
But here's the stunner: Still, the headline yesterday in Science Times was jolting: “Ugly Children May Get Parental Short Shrift.” As Nicholas Bakalar wrote: “Canadian researchers have made a startling assertion: parents take better care of pretty children than they do ugly ones.”
She goes on to talk about the economists Daniel Hamermesh and Jeff Biddle whose study notes that being tall, slender and attractive could be worth a "beauty premium" - an extra 5 percent an hour - while there is a "plainness penalty" of 9 percent in wages (after factoring out other issues).
The crux of the matter: No one seems sure whether bosses discriminate against people because they're less attractive, or whether more attractive people develop more self-esteem and social finesse.
May as well then do what you can to be more attractive - if only for yourself! More than what a makeover does externally, it achieves internally.
How far should we go? Personally, I would draw the line at surgery (unless it's a case of birth defect/ accidental deformity etc). If what you have already can be enhanced and highlighted by using the right make-up or getting a good haircut or losing some weight sensibly - I'm all for it!
There can however be too much of a good thing. Dan Ondrack, a professor at the University of Toronto, believes there's a "Boopsey" effect - if women are too gorgeous, people assume they are airheads.
So, women who want to be taken seriously need to adopt the right balance. Menka Doshi at CNBC - who's suddenly lost the specs and slapped on frosted lipstick - might want to think about that ...