There was a time in India when the self appointed cultural police vehemently opposed, especially through the media criticizing and condemning right left and center all genre of beauty contests like fashion shows, cat walks and especially the commercial advantage that the Miss INDIA contests had. It was not in the early 70’s or 80’s but in the late 90’s when the Indian films were actually portraying women as vulgar as possible. So , I found this to be really hypocritical. Therefore I wrote in Eves Touch Adam’s view column at that time. Quote the article as it appeared:-
How hypocritical can we get?!
Is there anything wrong with beauty? Or contests? Or both? Are we sure we object to cynosures? Or are we peeved at the parading of an ectomorphic entourage of long legs and perky breast in see –through dresses, transparent wrap-skirts, and pieces torn asunder sticking on the body like strings of noodles slipped from a fork? Because all these promote the vulgar portrayal of women and increase the pornographic voyeurism of our youth. And we would be right on all these scores to object to a romantic twaddle that passes for culture and spoils the young minds. But haven’t these very things been shown day in and day out in Indian films for decades? In fact , our films abound in all these and much more, from sexpressive clothes to suggestive gestures to uncompromising postures to an enormous amount of veiled vulgarity.
We never object to viewing these films with our children. But we make such a hue and cry about beauty contests, which have nothing to do with vulgarity. In a beauty contest, the judgment is not only on appearances but on many other aspects of the personality. The winner is expected, perhaps, have the face of Venus, the brains of Minerva, the grace of Terpsichore, the memory of Macaulay, the figure of Juno, the voice of Cordelia. She is expected to be a Protean artist, a Triton among minnows, a Dulcinea to all, patient as Griselda and so on. Even if it were a mere test of beauty, what is wrong with it? Beauty may be skin deep, but it is at beauty that our eyes peep, our hearts leap, our memories want to keep, what haunts us in our sleep, so what if it is just skin deep? Once a father told his son, “Remember ,beauty is only skin deep”. The son replied, “deep enough for me, I am not a cannibal”. Our self- proclaimed , moralists will be satisfied if our winners in Miss India contests and Fashion parades declare as a woman once did when asked what gave her such a lovely complexion and what cosmetic she used, “ I use for my lips truth, for my voice prayer, for the eyes pity, for the hands charity, for the figure uprightness and for the heart , love”.