In Throwback Thursday, Why Did Bollywood Really Enjoy Makeup Shaming Women? What’s With All The Love For Saadgi?
When it comes to love and relationships, we want our partner to not just love us but also like us. In fact, we want them to be totally smitten by us. And in that, we end up making conscious efforts to be liked! I do feel that instead we should just be ourselves and maintain our own individual taste. The right person will like you nevertheless. But it’s easier said than done and I have fallen prey to this as well. Especially when it comes to wearing makeup.
I remember the guy I liked earlier didn’t like vibrant lipstick shades and preferred nudes (erm, not those, you dirty minds!) What did I do? I gave up on my fuschias and reds and started wearing browns and light pinks. I did like those shades too but I was doing it not for myself but for him. So when my lover says he loves kajal on me, I can’t help but wear it. I absolutely hate this but I can’t deny being guilty of this.
I know it’s romantic and all that or so we are made to believe by Bollywood, the torchbearer of patriarchy in India for decades. The movies promote one thing – if you are not able to attract the guy with your looks, you will not be the lead of your own damn life. There’s no way you can be average looking but really smart and a guy will come along and fall for you.
And so, women subconsciously try to put all our effort in looking a certain way to be more attractive to men. Not like we have any other likeable qualities, right? We strive for a man who is so shallow that he falls for a woman just on the basis of her looks. If you’re pretty, it doesn’t matter if you are arrogant. Bollywood movies will show lead heroines being pretty but bitchy and the guy falls for her. But what if the bitchy woman was average looking?
So while women try to fit into beauty stereotypes, let’s talk about one that Bollywood has been promoting quite vehemently – simplicity. The actress dressed in a simple Indian desire will be serenaded by the actor who will sing praises about her saadgi.
In today’s throwback, we are talking about exactly that. I was sitting on my phones, with my headphones on and I realised that the 90s was filled with songs that appreciated the female beauty but in a way that implied that only simplicity was beautiful. Reams and reams of lyrics were dedicated to how the woman is a beauty with saadgi. That she doesn’t need external accoutrements to look beautiful. And the actors mouthing the songs or dialogues on screens did so with the sincerity required to pull off something as banal and I am giving them full marks for that.
In Kaho Na Pyaar Hai, Rohit went on to tell Sonia “khoobsurati saadgi mein hai” while intensely judging her for putting on makeup. And that’s supposed to be romantic? I appreciate that you like my no makeup face. I really do. But it doesn’t mean you will criticise me for wearing makeup like I have sinned. Of course, Sonia took it in quite a romantic manner. How else do you sell misogyny to young women who are not quite sold on it? Wrap it in the shiny paper of love and affection and we buy it like it’s Louis Vuitton on stock clearance sale.
Next we know, Sonia’s glamourous avatar is thrown off the building and she turns up in an Indian dress, with apparently just the basic most makeup. Then finally she wins Rohit’s heart and he finds her worthy to be serenaded with Chaand Sitare. Firstly, stop dimming her sparkle. Secondly, why is it that simplicity is seen only in Indian wear? Why is nobody looking at me in my shorts and tee with no makeup on and a messy top bun and singing praises? Disappointing really.
Of course, nothing in Bollywood is applicable if the point is not driven home. Yes, they sang a song about her saadgi, but that simply won’t cut it. Contrast must be introduced and this is often done by showing another woman, usually branded a vamp, applying a luscious red lipstick or a fabulously blinding pink. The emphasis is laid on the fact that a woman who wants to be loved by a honourable man will never fall for the fallacy of makeup. Her biggest embellishment is her saadgi. Honestly, if you see a chappal flying by you right now, it’s probably mine because I am so irate that this is how we suppress women.
Bollywood is nothing if not being known for being over the top. And there are songs solely dedicated to a woman keeping it low-key and simple. Na Kajre Ki Dhar from Mohra has Pankaj Udhas going on and on about how the beauty of a woman lies in not putting makeup on. “Na kajre ki dhaar, na motiyon ke haar, Na koyi kiya singar phir bhi kitni sundar ho, Tum kitni sundar ho,” the lyrics go sounding like a song with a shady agenda.
I mean, in the video the actress is full decked with kajal and all. So what are we even talking about? I bet she was like fuck the lyrics, I do what I want bitches!
ALSO READ: This Woman Thinks Instead of Makeup, Girls Should Be Acing Cooking Skills Because They Need To Feed Their Husbands. BRB, Face Palming!
Even in the song Mujhe Tum Chupke Chupke from Kuch Na Kaho, the lyrics go like, “Tum Mein Ay Meherbaan, Sari Hai Khoobiyan Mere Itne Sare Naam Hai Jab Tum Yeh Kehte Ho, Bholapan Saadgi…” Okay, so saadgi is a good quality and being interested in beauty/fashion makes you a fallen woman?
In Maine Pyaar Kiya, there are dedicated scenes to openly pull down women who don’t believe in being simple or submissive, or *gasp* wear makeup. And of course, simplicity is further stereotyped by Bollywood. You gotta wear Indian clothes and have long hair and of course, smile like at all times. So In Maine Pyaar Kiya, it’s cool they are hyping Suman but they go on to say how a woman who wears western clothes and have short hair will not respect elders. Much wow!
It almost feels like a systematic method of encouraging women to not spread their wings and come across powerful, if that’s their personality. I may be a bold woman but Bollywood may be telling me that’s making me undateable. Honestly, it reeks of misogyny!
Then there will be songs to confuse you talking about how they love kajal and all of that! They will talk about flawless skin and assume that women are just roaming around with filters because of course, it can’t be makeup. That’s concealer and foundation but thanks! Aaj Din Chadheya tere rang varga? No honey, that’s blush.
The thing is, no matter what you try to do, there is no one size fits all. And why should you fit yourself in those restrictive boxes? If someone tells you beauty is in simplicity, show them the finger. If someone tells you that you should put makeup on to look pretty, show them the finger. You do you, girl and don’t let Bollywood or anyone tell you otherwise.