Friday, October 1, 2010

Marilyn Monroe out, Jennifer Lopez in?

I for one wouldn’t say beauty is only skin deep and slight either beauty for which I unabashedly keep my eyes peeled, or the skin which contributes so much to physical beauty.  In any case, denigrating beauty as being only skin-deep will be passe in an age in which beauty has become a cult.  Thanks to the beauty industry and improved health, people retain their youthful appearance to a much greater age than in the past.  One doesn’t get to see white hair at all – I’m an exception – in this day and age when even “holy” people like priests, nuns and acharyas dye their hair.  As for wrinkles, bent backs, and hollow cheeks, they have become things of the past.

And there are no old women!  Modern women seem to be as ageless as Miss Marlene Dietrich.  Even women in their fifties are black-haired, cherry-lipped, neat-ankled and porcelain-jar-shaped.  If Whistler were to come alive, he would repaint his Portrait of the Artist’s Mother in such a way that it is indistinguishable from the Portrait of the Artist’s Daughter.

But what constitutes a woman’s attractiveness still remains an enigma.  If you think that women with an hour-glass figure are the most attractive, you don’t belong to the majority which, according to a research study, considers women with the right weight (not beefy women, mind you) as attractive.  In other words, women like Pamela Anderson and Jennifer Lopez with Ramya Krishna bringing up the rear.

These research findings are in tune with the opinions of the CEOs of some top advertising firms, reported in the “Lifestyle” supplement to the Deccan Chronicle sometime ago.  None of these connoisseurs of female figure considers Aishwarya Roy’s hour-glass figure attractive.  Her face also comes in for criticism: “Aishwarya’s face is cold”, says one; it is “too plasticy”, says another.  These beauty specialists have eyes only for the likes of Kareena Kapoor, Salma Hayek, Kajol and Zeenat Aman.  Thank God Marilyn Monroe died when wasp-waistedness was still attractive!

A friend of mine who is a product of two IITs tells me that, according to a study done at the University of Newcastle, the attractiveness of a woman depends not so much on her shape and curves as on a perfect match between her height and weight.  This is how the calculation goes.  Take a woman’s weight in kilograms and divide it by the square of her height in metres.  If the body mass index is between 19 and 25, the woman can be said to have an attractive figure.  Stuff and nonsense!

“Sabina has a thousand charms / to captivate my heart”, goes an old poem of unknown authorship.  “Her lovely eyes are Cupid’s arms / and every look a dart. / But when the beauteous idiot speaks, / she cures me of my pain. / Her tongue the servile fetters breaks, / and frees her slave again.”  I don’t think this is true of our own times: the Sabinas of our age are far too sensible.

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