To Judge Appearances, Or Not: Movie clichés, unrealistic beauty standards and more

And then the fairy godmother swished her wand through the air and lo and behold… there stood a glittering, poised princess in the stead of a ragged, distraught Cinderella.

That was my introduction into the world of makeovers and becoming something that you essentially aren’t – just to fit well into a society that has a preconceived notion of the good and the ugly. Who would’ve thought that the celebrated tale of happy endings stood on a foundation so hollow? Why, of course the dress made Cinderella look prettier, the pumpkin-turned-chariot made her look a tad-bit richer; but why did she need all these fanciful accessories when she had a heart made of only the finest gold?
My moment of joy (even as a five-year-old) came when no one could recognise her once the ball was done and her riches transformed to rags. Does that make me evil? Maybe. But you know what they say about losing oneself in a bid to duplicate others? That is what happened to Cinderella. And I don’t know about you, but I sure did learn a lesson (A little later. 5-yo me liked the dress Cinderella was wearing).
When no one could recognise the ragged Ella, it was her pure soul that the Prince recognised. And so, I hope even Cinderella realised that glass slippers are nothing but add-ons to her being.

Years passed, and I grew up to believe that Fairy Godmother would set things right. The movies spoke of that best friend who would revamp your wardrobe, that secret father who would, of course, be really rich and then, you would splurge all the moolah on redoing your hair all princess-y and switching your glasses for contact lenses. You may think of all these as silly or trivial issues but little do you know the sort of impact it had on the mind of a pre-teen girl.

When my fairy godmother didn’t turn up, I decided I should do my own makeover. I looked at the girl who was transformed in front of my eyes on the movie screens and how her life suddenly changed to a perfect lala-land and found my inspiration. I switched all colours in my wardrobe with maroons, navy blues and blacks (A lot of black). I refused to wear what my mother picked out for me and set on following my own style– only that ‘my’ style was not really my own. It was copied, albeit in a more affordable fashion.

Well, I have come a long way since then. Movies don’t affect me the way they did before. My family and friends have always reminded me of who I am and how perfect I am. I love colours and I have realised that orange looks better on me. But I still wear maroon sometimes because it is something I chose– not something movies chose for me. You’ll always find a weird pop of colour on me somewhere- even if it is a tiny wristband. I no longer look at makeovers like they are the only piece of candy in a 20 km radius. Hell, Princess Mia was even asked to do away with her old personality, her dreams and, of course, the braces. These scenes, now, make me smile, mostly at their absurdity and partly because they leave me nostalgic as I remember how I’d look up to these movies with every bit of awe that i could muster.
With issues like body-shaming coming to the fore, I believe we are on the right track. And one day, we may watch a movie that shall show a geeky girl with glasses and braces land up with a lanky, stinky gamer guy ( who has every right to be her Prince Charming) of her dreams and a tomboy finding her place in the arms of a cute guy with a dad bod. That would be realistic cinema. That is what we should aim for. Not a movie that speaks of a girl being of zero desirability if her eyebrows aren’t plucked to perfection (Who even started these ridiculous makeover movies?).
Plucking eyebrows hurt and waxing makes women want to cry. Please don’t set unrealistic standards, dearest movies.

Soumya Bisht


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