June 18, 2015
It is now well known that marketing tells us that what we are is “not what we should be” and that buying products will make us better people, more attractive, wealthy, strong and altogether more desirable. Marketing tells us to feel bad about being dark, short, fat etc.
Bangalore had no T.V. when we were growing up, so did we feel fine about ourselves?
In our circles, we were rather ashamed of having more than our neighbors and many of my friends were always trying to dress down and look as simple and unassuming as possible. Dressing up was vain. I can remember my sister not wanting to be dropped to school by our old second hand car even if she was late, not because it was old but because not all our friends at school had cars.
People said everything they could to elevate others and down play themselves. It was another time.
Yet I felt my hair was not thick and long and that my walk was funny, my eyes were weak and that I was shorter and plumper than I should have been.
Even today I feel disappointed that my mirror shows that I do not look traditional. I really can’t have long thick hair, cutting it is not only practical, it’s The only option. Stitched jeans are not only more convenient than unstitched sarees, it’s also the only way to keep your keys and purse safe. So I looking the mirror and feel sad that I don’t have that awesome grandmotherly look that my granny had at this age.
It is not advertising and marketing that have made me disappointed with myself, but the critical peers and loved role models of my childhood.
There is always someone we want to impress and someone we want to be like. Advertising merely takes advantage of this desire we have and pretends that some products can help us be other than what we are and what makes sense in the context of our life.
The game therefore is to learn to accept ourselves. Perhaps I am shorter and plumper than my peers, perhaps I have achieved less than them. Perhaps they are more noble and exalted than me.
That’s okay. The universe existed before this body-mind-self combo came into being and will continue to do so long after. This is just my chance in the sun. To see, to learn, to be!
If I am unequal to my social peers, maybe I can find my intellectual and emotional peers around whom it is easy to accept myself.
And when I look in the mirror I am not going to see either Miss World or my elderly aunt. I am going to see me. I am not going to see either Indra Nooyi or a monk.
My loved ones would see me as more virtuous and accomplished than I am and the ones who detest me will see me as much less than what I am What others see depends largely on their own minds and attention span.
That’s not important.
What is important is to accept my genes and my circumstance. And to be, to see and to learn.