Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. Something I have alluded to before but haven’t had a chance to fully describe is how frank the social culture in India is. If you look tired, someone will tell you, even if you don’t know them. If you put on weight, good luck disguising it. And if you cut your hair and it is naturally crazy curly in the heat….look out. Be prepared to have everyone tell you they do not like it 😉 Even upon departure, someone’s farewell was, next time I see you your hair will be this long (indicating much longer than now). In some ways it is nice I guess, no sugar coating. But that day you feel awesome, look out because your idea of awesome and beautiful is probably much different and you will probably be shot down. That’s just how it goes. However, even if you feel terrible but dress in the traditional way everyone will say how beautiful you look. I am glad I knew this from last time (even if I needed some reminding) otherwise I may have had some serious self esteem blows. It always cracks me up at what everyone calls beautiful. The biggest example is my hair because it was shorter and curlier this time around. All the volunteers loved it, all the Indians…HATED it. Even the boys would say, “Auntie, your hair crazy.”
Well Saturday before I left, I went to “the beauty salon” a.k.a. the girls hostel. I got bindi-ed, henna-ed, and then Sara so kindly asked the girls if they were going to do my hair. Apparently they were going to braid it but after combing out all the curls, they didn’t seem to know what to do with it because of the length. So they basically just clipped the top part back and the rest looked like it had been teased 80’s style. When they finished I got the look of awe and the whispered “beautiful” by all as they admired their work. I almost burst out laughing and called to Sara, “apparently now I am beautiful.” We both tried really hard not to laugh as I tried to flatten my hair a bit before they took a million photos to document their success. Luckily it was right before dance so I had a bit of an excuse to put the rest up without offending anyone.
I guess at the end of the day, it happens to all of us which makes it funny and not so demeaning haha. Sara is possibly the most gorgeous girl I have seen and even when she goes to the girls house to help with their morning routine they make time to give her a bindi, do her hair, and powder her face. All finalized with the amazed whisper of “beautiful.” If a beautiful girl still needs the appropriate make over to get approval here, I guess none of us can ever really be sad about not being up to snuff. It is a humbling and eye opening lesson on what is considered beautiful in the eyes of others to say the least.