I am very strict when it comes to my own younger sis. Many a times she has to undergo the brunt of my conservatism. I admit, m fairly conservative when it comes to things like children and their upbringing. I don’t have any but this doesn’t stop me from having opinions. It’s the last remnant of my conservative childhood and I hang on to it, because nothing I’ve seen out there has really challenged it or made me even come close to changing my mind. 😉
In my early teens, I wanted to get my eyes brows plucked the moment I saw a classmate sashay down the corridor in her short skirt and that arched eye-look at age thirteen. I had the skirt, but I wanted those eyes courtesy eyebrow-plucking. Those clean face and big eyes that looked so very adult. 🙂
“I think m ready!!” I told my mum as she got her pedicure done at the salon. 🙂
“Girls are doing it very early these days” said the chinky lady who usually did hers. My mum looked at me and laughed and laughed. When she finally caught her breath, she said: “Cheeee!!!!” EOD. 😦
I had graduated high school much before my mom would let me pluck anything at all. And when I got my eyebrows done for the first time at age eighteen for my cousin’s wedding, it was a family affair with one of my Kakis standing over the poor parlor assistant’s shoulder and whispering “Don’t cry, don’t cry!!!” as my eyes watered. 😦
Of course, my mum being a good mother, we did have talks about personal grooming. From manicure to pedicures, cosmetics to accessories, the best part of growing up with a mom and a hoard of aunts is that there’s no dearth of advice on anything, and everything from acne treatments to what is the correct way to apply an eye liner. 🙂
And we eventually talked about growing up – but the emphasis was always on hygiene, not sexuality. In our house, grooming wasn’t just about being attractive. Every summer my Ajji (my mum’s grand mom) would repeatedly remind me that good grooming is about having pride in oneself. You take care of yourself because you deserve it, not to impress other people.
“This is not the way for good girls to walk around the house before the evening lamp is lit” my Ajji would say “You should first wash your face, then powder, put on a kajal-bindi, comb and tie your hair neatly, change into freshly pressed clothes, and then come to the DEVARA to see the lamp. That’s what a gharachi-mulgi does”.
There was a time in my teens, when I totally refused to comb my hair, and become a Scary Spice (I totally adored Spice Girls), nobody pulled me down and forcibly combed my hair or oiled my hair, nor did anyone force me to change my style. At the time, I thought it a victory over the Establishment 😉 Later I was quite puzzled because the Establishment at our home is quite capable of breaking the backs of ‘little guerrilla’ efforts like that. 😦
It took me years before I realized that part of the lesson my Ajji and mom were trying to teach me was that, self-worth is something only you can determine for yourself. If they’d forced me to look presentable according to their stringent standards, as they well could have at the time, it would only have appeased their sense of worth, their image of a family member, not mine.
They had let me be ME. More importantly they instilled the values of “self-confidence” much before the invention of such classes around my house. My Ajji is not with me today, but I miss her immensely. She never got down to bashing us up and making us understand. She always had her ways of making us learn life’s lessons.
My poor-yet-to-be-born-kids, will have an Infantry-Drill with me around for sure 😉