The Many Masks We Wear


My niece who just turned twelve applies lipstick. When I was in school, I was not allowed to wear makeup, primarily because mom never applied any so there wasn’t any to experiment with. The first make up kit came into my house when my sister applied for an air hostess’ job. I use to watch in awe how my sister applied her lipstick, eyeliner and suchlike. When she used to leave home, I would sneak up and use some of her rouge and lipstick and prance around. But somehow I never bothered about makeup as much as my friends used to.

I remember the small compact mirror and the brushes that mom used to keep hidden in the desk drawer. Our lipstick used to be stored away in the refrigerator, so whenever we used to apply, it we had a nice tingling cold sensation on our lips. The only time I wore make up was in a school play, where I was the ‘boy’ (due to my tomboy haircut). Just a touch of rouge for the stage and a dab of lipstick for the part irrespective of the fact that the gender I was playing didn’t need any.

Today when I look at the heroines in Bollywood, we tend to compare them with first the heroines of the past era and then to those of Hollywood. A lot has changed. The once subtle hint of rouge is replaced by the shine and shimmer of the eyeliners. Our society even sniggers at heroines without make up, off camera and photograph them as if they have captured a serial killer loose in their city. Even at funerals these women are forced to put up a coat of paint, waterproof no doubt.

When I was getting married, my hairdresser convinced me that I needed makeup. Keeping with the trend, I agreed. While she was applying the makeup, I saw the transformation. A dab here a dab there, a dab here a dab there and before you knew it I was a doll with excess paint on her face. My eyes were black. My cheeks pink and there was bright lipstick. All I could do was smile. I thanked her for her services and rushed home. I told myself that no way was I getting married in this mask. I quickly washed my face and agreed to put some subtle lipstick and eyeliner and rushed to the venue. I was late for the wedding. I would rather have been late than have my husband to be, wonder if he was marrying me or a painted doll..

So what is real beauty? The age old saying that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, is quickly becoming outdated. I believe we can be beautiful to a person if we have helped them get up when they are fallen, when they need your guidance. Beauty lies in the eyes of a child, whose mother may not be a film star but for the child she is the most beautiful mother in the world. If by making someone laugh you have made their day, then for them you are the beauty in their lives.

As I look around me, I see women who are multi-tasking at work and home. Some of them do more physical work and tend to ignore their physical appearances. Their beauty shines from their soul.  I always did admire Lady Diana Spencer. For me she was the most graceful and beautiful woman with or without makeup. She died with a mask on, a mask of loneliness, betrayal and unrequited love.



September 16, 2013


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