Battle of B's

Of all the places on internet where time is a lost concept I spend (or waste?) a shamefully considerable amount of time on Pinterest and Tumblr. My interests vary on a day to day basis and it solely depends on my state of mind on that day. So it could be anything from fashion week street style to the latest Game of Thrones memes to articles on Vajrayana to zodiac signs. I usually steer clear of recipes and DIY projects – not my forte. So the other day while wasting another precious evening off the book of my life I stumbled across this discussion on Tumblr. Beauty vs. brain. Or if there is really a vs. there in between. Of course those nerdy, uber-cool Tumblr girls did not disappoint me. As always they punched the apparent trade-off between physical beauty and intellectual quotient into oblivion with their witty, sarcastic comebacks. It felt good.

During my tenure at a B school of Calcutta I had a colleague who once shared an illustration (not by her) on facebook. Three rows of identical looking girls, all heavily made up, reading books and holding them upside down. Only one girl in the crowd, with no makeup on, was holding the book in proper fashion. The message was clear. If you wore lipstick and smeared your eyelids with eyeliner, you were a dumb bitch. I practice reticence as much as possible in this landmine laden big world. It was not one of those times and I somehow ended up asking her “I wear lipstick and I also know how to hold a book and read it. Where would you put me in your clever, feminist picture there?” Her aggressive reply was incoherent and stinking of personal insecurity. One of the perks of being an emotionally unstable clever person is that you master how to smell others’ insecurities with time. My colleague was a short, fat, pimple faced, thoroughly ungroomed girl who was apparently so proud of her appearance that she couldn’t stop mentioning it. She was also the same person who happened to ask me “Who is Agatha Christie?” and “What is a Holy Grail?”. Both the times she had spotted me whiling away our comparatively workless lazy afternoons with books.

I am a keen observer and a ruthless judge of people. Don’t let my dreamy, happy-go-lucky appearance fool you. I am actually shaping you up and your every single move behind my exuberant laughter and absent-minded gaze. But come on, I don’t even spare myself. One fault and I will criticise myself mercilessly. So don’t expect me to be otherwise when it comes to other people. I follow a hell lot of fashion and beauty bloggers/vloggers (mostly Indians) on social media. Not regularly but I keep a track. And needless to say, I judge the living shit out of most of them. And believe me even though I try to like them thinking about my very own principle of no conflict between beauty and brain; I fail miserably. But what can you do really when you observe them and wonder if their vocabulary stops at ‘really’, ‘super cool’, ‘super super pretty’ and ‘super cute’ pronounced with accents from God knows what country. Or looking at their outfits at various fashion week events and wondering if it was actually a go-as-you-like show for rodeo clowns. Men are no less there. It’s OK to be gay, but not OK looking like a poster for serial killer movie-cum-carnival. And then there comes the other side of the coin. There is this girl from Canada who travels the world and dresses up like a doll and talks about her struggle with alcohol addiction and every inch of her blog oozes a heady mix of wit, intelligence and sex appeal. Or this other girl from Delhi who narrates like a pro journalist on her shopping vlogs. Articulate, funny and smart. Or this Indian woman from Washington whose write ups are as good as her outfits.

Those who know me are well aware of my obsession with clothes and shoes. How conscious I am about my looks. But a bimbo? Not even my worst enemy would dare call me that. It’s very simple actually. Either be unabashedly proud and comfortable in your own skin, be it fair or dark, smooth or pimpled. Or just work towards to make it appear better. Don't try to hide insecurity behind pseudo-feminism. Sadly, men do not have to face this conflict. Why do women always have to choose a side then? Isn't this too a subtle form of misogyny? That no matter what we do we are always under constant scrutiny. Beauty never had any conflict with being intelligent. Cleopetra would not have existed then. Some people are just born dumb and they will remain so even if you snatch their Gucci bag away. I am usually an either-black-or-white type person given my condition. But sometimes even with my turbulent mind I feel that maybe the grey intersection segment of the Venn diagram of life is the best place to dwell in. Beauty or brain?

Well, how about both?