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Anjuly Mathai
Anjuly Mathai

LOVE ACTUALLY

50 shades of myself

50 shades of myself

Alia Bhatt’s latest video is on the importance of loving yourself if you are a woman. Easier said than done?

In her latest video, Alia Bhatt chats with two of her best friends. One of them is wearing a face mask and is worried she looks too fat in her Facebook profile picture. Apparently, a male friend ‘LOL’ed her picture. She blames it on her nose, which, she thinks, looks too chubby. Another friend is hung up on a man who refuses to call or reply to her umpteen messages. She plucks the petals of a flower in the ancient and trustworthy chant of ‘he loves me, he loves me not’.

Your life must be so perfect that you probably don’t have any of these problems, they tell Alia. To which, she points out how high she ranked in the Bimbo-meter after her disastrous performance in Karan Johar’s talk show. She shows memes making fun of her bushy eyebrows. She addresses all her girl friends and delineates the importance of loving yourself, despite all your imperfections.
If you are born a woman, it means you are born hardwired with insecurities. It is in our genes—this deep-seated feeling that we are inferior to others. We constantly worry about our looks—fat noses and double chins are exaggerated.

If we achieve any measure of success, we fall victim to what Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, called the Imposter Syndrome, where we don’t give credit to our achievements, instead attributing them to everything from a man’s patronage, luck, or a favourable environment. Then there is the constant pressure to ‘snag’ a man. Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, in a TED talk, talks about how women are trained from a young age to aspire to get married. According to the dictates of society, it should be the one overarching ambition of a woman’s life.

Modernity has not helped. Tinder has made love a marketplace of potential matches. Women are bartered based on looks. Shapely legs? Swipe right. Dimpled smile? Swipe right. Dark complexion? Swipe left. Of course, this is applicable to men as well. But men don’t take rejection to heart the way a woman does. A lifetime of discrimination has made her acutely aware of her shortcomings. Advertisements bombarding you with perfect size zero women promoting fairness creams and shiny hair does nothing to boost a woman’s morale.

I can endorse Alia’s view. Yes, love yourself. But I can’t tell you how to do so. I can only tell you what I do when I feel bogged down by my own myriad flaws. I turn the focus on others. I try to stop thinking about myself. Stop analysing yourself. Live with your imperfections. In fact, love them, for they are what set you apart.

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