Have you ever noticed how, in all those Beauty Makeover columns that they have in newspapers and in girly magazines, the “before” picture of the poor bakra getting the so-called makeover always looks much much better than the ‘after’ picture?
In the ‘before’ picture he or she is usually smiling and self-confident with natural hair and skin, and in the ‘after’, they always look tweezed, pinched, pained and invariably wearing the dazed, deer-caught-in-the-headlights expression made famous by Sourav Ganguly.
It’s a phenomenon you can spot during musical game shows, too. They take all the semi-finalists and give them a ‘makeover’ — spiky hair, red tints, weird clothes. And then all the judges do these big fake intakes of breath, go ‘ohmygod ohmygod’ and tell them how hot they’re looking. Excuse me, I always want to say. He’s so not looking hot. He’s looking like Sheena Easton. Well, at least these people get their so-called makeovers for free. Unlike me, who recently went into one such posh temple of beauty and forked out large sums of money for a haircut that makes me look exactly like Alka Yagnik.
And so Stockholm-syndromed was I by the classy, androgenous glittering staff at the salon, that I even thanked the lady who did this to my hair and left her a huge tip! Why do we let people in the beauty business do this to us? Why do we let them touch our hair/skin and murmur delicately, “Bahut tanning ho gayi hai… kafi thinning hai… itne dark circles… skin kitni dry hai…uff! So many blackheads!” And of course, after about three hours of expensive treatments that cost as much as a mid-size car’s EMI, comes the clincher: “Madam, bahut koshish ki, I tried my best, but… (head shake, lip purse)…Aap regularly aaya karo!” I’ve often left a haircutting salon with the sneaky feeling that the polite, smiling staff will, as soon as I exit the door, quickly do a high five and then laugh uproariously.
Specially after I’ve had a ‘pearl herbal mask’ or a ‘banana bouncer hair treatment’ (contains the pulp of 12 bananas, so it should cost about twenty four bucks, right? So how come I had to shell out six hundred??) It doesn’t help that I tend to immediately bang into friends saying, “Hey! Nice to see you! Can we have a coffee or you just going into the parlour?”
Anuja Chauhan works in advertising. She is also the author of the best-selling The Zoya Factor. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org