Disclaimer: This is a piece of fiction and should be treated as such.
I struck up a conversation with a woman sitting next to me on the train. She looked a bit forlorn with her elbow resting on the window sill her cheek resting on her palm. She was gorgeous with creamy skin and a perfect figure. Her clothes were expensive and nails and hair were perfectly done. In short, not your regular co-passenger in A/C Chair Car.
I was curious about her. Duh! I leaned to get my water bottle and gave her a I-know-we’re-strangers-but-we-should-make-small-talk smile.
“Hi! Going to Pune?”, I asked.
“Hi, Yes”, she replied.
“So you work in Mumbai?”, (cringe. that came off a bit too brightly)
“Used to. Not anymore”
“I work in IT. I manage teams in Mumbai and Pune. What do you do?”
She hesitated for the briefest moment and replied, “I am well, was, a model. Mostly TV ads. I was the woman biting the apple in the Vicco ad.”
“Wow! Sounds exciting.”, I said. “I’ve never met a real model before”
She gave a polite smile and turned away. I tried reading my (imported) Wired magazine but I kept sneaking glances at her.
Then, I heard the tiniest sniff and well, I succumbed to the basest of human emotions – curiosity disguised as empathy.
“Are you ok?”, I asked.
“Yes… NO! I’m absolutely not ok”. She broke down crying and I dug into my purse to find a tissue.
She silently accepted the tissue and said, “I have to talk to someone about this. Would you care to listen?”
“Sure, if it makes you feel better”.
And so she told me her story. She’d started out in Mumbai a model about a year ago and lived in an apartment with three other girls. After a series of apple biting ads she’d finally hit the jackpot and been selected as the next Fair & Lovely face. Well, on the day of her first shooting, disaster struck. A large, unsightly pimple had sprung up on her face.
The rest of the story was pretty predictable after that. She lost the offer and one of her roommates replaced her. Her boyfriend made excuses about various things and dumped her and hoooked up with the roommate. She lost all the other offers that had lined up after Fair & Lovely and ended up moving out of the plush apartment she could no longer afford.
“I mean, I had to share a place with K-serial extras. Can you believe it?”, she sniffed. “I mean, they use foundation a shade lighter than their skin tone and think they can pull it off. They match their lipstick with their nailpolish and use pink eyeshadow. I couldn’t take it anymore. I’m going to need therapy to get over the sequins in the saris!”
To cut the story short, she visited a dermatologist who gave her a spot steroid shot which not only shrunk the pimple but left a crater.
“After that, I…”, and anyone would feel sorry when she said this, “I started getting Bhabhiji roles in soap operas. Ew!”
She sighed dramatically. My life is so over… I lost everything I worked for because of one pimple. She broke down sobbing and I didn’t know how to react because, you know, I got into this out of curiosity. I didn’t want to be morally obliged to comfort her! But I did need to say something and I did the best I could.
“Have you considered a career that, you know, doesn’t depend on the state of your skin?”
She was confused. “What?”
“Nothing dear”. I gently patted her arm and switched my seat.
Dear Garnier and Friends,
A pimple isn’t exactly acne. It’s not rosacea or worse. Your products are not medical grade so can we have some perspective about this? I had a massive pimple on my chin on my wedding day and my photos turned out just fine. So can you stop preying on insecure women please?
No, I have no illusions about winning this contest. I just wanted to rant 🙂
PS: I have nothing against models or soap opera actresses or anyone else who makes an honest living. I’m a nice person, really. I don’t want to be judged on the basis of this piece of writing. Seriously! I mean, I just wrote that bit about minor soap opera extras because I wanted to bring out the tragedy in this girl’s life. And the girl, I’m not saying all models are like her just this one girl. And I can never personally imply that a profession that doesn’t depend on looks is superior to one that does. Everyone works hard for their money, ok? Please, please, please still like me after you read this!
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