The body of a woman is not owned by society. It is the property of the woman and the woman alone.
The idea is simple. It’s a choice.
Back in 2012, my cousin starved herself for months to squeeze into her wedding dress. She not only stopped eating her favourite laddu, but also passed out every now and then. I couldn’t rejoice when I saw her in the majestic dress on her big day.
But on other days, I see social media ripe with #NoMakeup hashtags, memes joking that you “can’t trust a girl with too much makeup,” and ridiculous “studies” claiming that men prefer women who wear less makeup.
No, I do not celebrate either of the above, but I rightfully denounce losing agency, knowingly and unknowingly.
When Tasnim Jara posted a wedding picture of hers with zero makeup and no jewellery, the internet burst into conversation. However, an alarming number of comments were not only presumptive, but also downright demeaning enough to be labelled as cyber bullying.
The body of a woman is not owned by society. It is the property of the woman and the woman alone. She can choose to flaunt or hide or decorate or modify however she chooses to. The principle also dictates that we as a society have no qualms if a woman chooses to celebrate her body by wearing what expresses her personality and her view on the world.
Weddings celebrate the finding of the one person who completes you. They aren’t about celebrating a polished happiness.
Also Read- Dadu’s sari and zero makeup
The entire experience of a wedding is fraught with emotion- joy, sorrow and everything in between- and perhaps nothing is more symbolic of the journey than the wedding dress itself.
It just needs to make you feel a certain way and evoke certain emotions in you.
If you want to be in a flashy red wedding sari and wear smoky eyes, bold red lips, know that I am rooting for you. If you want to put on a stunning white lehenga, apply bronzers on your cheekbones and have your wedding at the set of Harry Potter, I hope you invite me. Or if you just want to simply get married without a coat in freezing cold like Phoebe Buffay, I am ready to hold Chappy.
But can you guarantee that you are doing it on your own choice?
Now imagine you like Coke and the socially preferred cold drink is Coke. Congratulations! The stars have aligned and you get to be you.
But what if only you liked Clemon?
Our society has a singular image of a bride which might be liked by many. However, it leaves the rest prisoners in their own bodies as they strive to look like someone else.
When one of us chooses to be different, we are outright anxious about validation. What if the guests are offended? What if there are rumours? Instead of addressing the problem of lack of acceptance, we adapt ourselves to it.
Even though in many cases we don’t see girls being directly forced to look in a certain way, it’s important to acknowledge how our minds are socially conditioned throughout our lives.
Social conditioning is the process of training individuals to behave in certain ways that are approved by the society or certain groups within it. Through repetition, reward and reinforcement, it indoctrinates individuals. Every time my baby niece threw a tantrum, she was sent on a time out. Now I am the proudest when she chooses to be patient at the toy store!
However, certain social conditioning instils in us many horrible wrong ideas, ineffective behaviours, toxic desires and unhealthy human reactions. The singular image of a bride is one of them.
Then how do we know whether the choice is being socially conditioned or an independent one?
For the record, we can’t. That’s why it is important not just to accept what makes individual happy, but also to strive for a society in which people are encouraged to make informed decisions without being pressured in a certain condition.
Tasnim Jara, in this regard, has set the ball rolling.
It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The most important beholder is the one who looks at you in the mirror.
The message is simple. You do you.