On beauty – 1


 During my university years, someone said “Beauty X brains is a constant.” That is, you (a woman) can’t be both exceedingly beautiful and super intelligent.

While we can get into discussions on what these two terms mean, I can tell the person who made this statement that beauty – at least in the sense of dressing up – requires intelligence. A LOT of it.

Having spent the last twenty minutes of my time trying to force a stud into one of my ear piercings (only to realize I was turning the screw in the opposite direction), I can say with certainty that my beauty-related intelligence is not quite as much as I’d like it to be.

I’ll unabashedly state that I like dressing up. That applies mostly for clothes, sometimes with a minimalist accessory. In my mind, my dressing style is understated, with lots of blacks, but with a dash of hippie, with some floral and bold block prints.

Where I fail is I have less patience. If enough time went into figuring out the best clothes for the occasion, I can’t bring myself to wear the best accessories, shoes, get my hair pretty, wear light makeup, etc. My attention span lasts only for one part of the dressing up – sometimes I force fit that necklace (because I feel like it, not because it flatters the dress), and other times I struggle in wedge shoes because I saw it gathering dust in the shoe rack and felt pangs of guilt.

It’s alright if I were at peace with this. The problem is I sway between frustration at my lack of patience and pride at my ability to not fall into the societal “trap” of “looking good.” This ambivalence is most manifest when I look back at my wedding pictures and feel that I could have looked so much better if I had taken the pains to follow up with the tailor, picked better accessories, and not been afraid to tell the makeup artist that I didn’t like what she was doing to my face.

Which is why I think it takes brains to be good looking, defined purely as what makes you happy – either by societal standards or your own. It needs confidence, an understanding of market trends (if you like going by what’s in), a sense of colour combinations and most importantly, the ability to see into the future – whether this is the best design in which to tailor the fabric and whether this lip colour would look okay given the colour of my skin.

On the other hand, it needs intelligence to show the finger to conventional or trendy ideas of beauty. It takes courage and brains to simply do what you want and feel good in your own skin, the clothes you like and the colours you want on your face and hair.

So while I struggle to figure out which side I’m on (and whether I do need to take sides at all), here’s to the wonderful, intelligent women who have figured out the equation either ways. And to the guy who proudly explained the “beauty x brains” equation, may you please learn the lesson soon. 


Gayathri said...

Hi Anu and Vani,

I have been hooked on to both your blogs for the past five days and couldn’t find a better time to write this out to you. While I try hard to find the right words, I genuinely hope it does not sound like yet another spam to you.

I’m not a good writer and I have never tried this journal before, but fortunately I can read and write understandable English which I’m sure will be good enough to convey what I wanted to tell.

Last week I have given some test and scans for a cancer scare. My results are due tomorrow and I thought now is the best time to talk my heart out to you both before my life turns upside down tomorrow. (May be not! Fingers crossed). The anxious wait made me browse through internet randomly and that’s how I picked up your blog. Boy, you made me forget everything and kept me hooked on like anything. I dint regret missing all this for years since you started. I was able to catch up all of it in these five days. Literally every entry!

I should say I was a little proud about what I have done with my life so long, but after reading your works I feel so lost. I came from a decent tam Brahmin family with hard working parents. Life is not a fairy tale and mine was no exception. Dad lost big time on his business and took to drinking. Mom worked extra hard to manage food on table, but gave more priority in having me and my younger sister educated. We studied, got graduated and joined a reputed IT firm. Life began to settle down slowly. Now I’m married and settled in Australia with a husband who is very supportive of what I do. I’m not extra special in coding, neither did I have any stand out quality that I’m proud of. Yet I felt good about being where I am and doing what I do, until I bumped into your blogs.

I have no idea on what my results will look like tomorrow. Good or bad, I’m sure it is going to bring in a lot of changes in my life. I’m hoping for it to be good, that way I would get an opportunity to re-discover myself. If at all I do, I wouldn’t forget to give some credit to the two of you 

Finally, great work guys and it is just simply mind blowing! Keep going and my best wishes to Spark team.


Vani Viswanathan said...


I don't know if you will look back on this post and read this reply, but I wanted to tell you how much joy you have brought to us with your words. Personally, I go through ups and downs with my writing, and wonder what I'm doing ranting away endlessly, but the very rare comments such as yours encourage me to keep it going. For that, thank you a million times.

I wish you the very best as you await your test results, and though it sounds easy to say this when I can only imagine what you must be thinking right now, we hope that whatever the results throw at you, you stand tall and are ready, and able, to fight hard for your dreams. All the very best and we look forward to you continuing to read our work! Once again, thank you so much for your kind words. You made my day.


Gayathri said...

Hello Anu and Vani,

Honestly, I did not expect my comment to be approved let alone a reply. From both of you!!! This was just, I really don't know what to say.

I did see the post earlier but given the emotional state I was in, I really did not want to hit a reply before I settled down a bit.

Good news, the c***** scare has become history but I do have something that needs immediate attention which could put me on bed for a couple if weeks. I can only be thankful and embrace it with all my heart.
I want to thank you both for a couple of things
- first of all, for taking sometime out of your busy lives to reply for an unknown soul far far away ( definitely not a robot :p )

- when anxiety was killing me, you sent guardian angels ( characters in your stories I mean) to help me push the disturbing thoughts to a corner and stay positive

- for making a tiny part of me believe that There has to be something I'm good at, and help me take a step forward to look for it. Will figure it out someday!

Thanks again!!


Anupama Viswanathan said...


Glad to hear everything is ok and happy to know that our writing helped you stay positive!

All that's left to do now is chasing your dreams! :)

Just another thing: I don't write on my blog anymore. I have my own website now in which I publish all my creative work. If you wish to read more of my work or would like to contact me directly, please visit Life is Like That

Wishing you the very best and look forward to seeing you on my new website.:)

- Anu

Gayathri said...

Interesting!! So I have a lot to catch up now :) thanks for letting me know!! You can count me in as a regular from now on.