“It was so good today”, said the mother waving her perfectly manicured fingers in the air. “I went straight to the parlour after dropping Ananya* off and got the full treatment. It was so difficult during the summer holidays - I couldn’t’ be away from home for too long and had to get my pedicure and facial done simultaneously. Maaza bhi nahin aata. You can’t even enjoy it when you are getting two things done at the same time.”
I buried my head deeper into my book to hide the eyebrows badly in need of tidying, and stole covert glances at the other mothers. Designer jeans, dresses better looking than the ones I consider my ‘best’, sweats that were made to be worn only outside the gym – was it really necessary to dress that fastidiously when all you were doing was picking up your kids from school?
What is it that drives women to spend so much time agonizing about their appearance? Why do they feel threatened and insecure if they are not the best dressed and the best groomed in any circle they find themselves in? Is their sense of self-worth so low they judge themselves by how others perceive their appearance?
I know I am an extreme. There is really no reason why I should spend as little time on my grooming as I actually do. But when the time you can spend on other things is limited, would you rather not spend it running or swimming than on having someone poke and prod you in the name of beauty? I don’t know about you, but that is the choice I have made.
And though the mothers in my son’s school do make me feel dowdy everytime I come in contact with them, I guess I am lucky that none of it affects my self-esteem for more than just a few minutes. Maybe if they were as comfortable with who they are as I am, they would not obsess so much about their appearance.
* name changed