the price of beauty: india

I’m sorry this is about a week late, but I have to say that I actually enjoyed The Price of Beauty last Monday when they were in Mumbai, India. What was the difference for me? This episode was not your typical show with standards like the U.S., even down to the spa!

First things first (and actually a similarity), Bollywood (like Hollywood) epitimizes glamour in India. They met their beauty ambassador, Neha, who is a former Miss India and a bollywood dancer, and got to talk about what’s considered beautiful in their culture and got to learn how to dance some sequences.

The dance sequences represent a fantasy of heightened color and beauty while the women dancing are dressed in elaborately decorate dresses and jewelry. This is because Bollywood influences haute culture trends and if you’re in Bollywood, you’re beautiful.

Their next stop was interesting to me, but it also reminded you of the power of being happy. They went to a session of laughter yoga. The concept is that the moment you smile or laugh, you’ll get the response of a smile or laugh. What they had to do was hold their hand up as if it was a mirror and point at themselves in”the mirror” and laugh. It makes you not take life and yourself too seriously and actually research shows that laughing is a great stress reliever. At the end everyone chanted together, “I’m wonderful, I’m beautiful” to which Jessica said was very powerful since they believed in what they were speaking.

Of course, they went to a spa… I know I disagree with this outing, but this spa was different. See in India, they are more holistic and beauty comes from treating your body well so this “treatments” were more about cleansing your body, giving you the external benefits, rather than focusing purely on your outward appearance.

So what did they do? They used a neti pot which is a small teapot-like object with a long spout. You put it in one nostril while tipping your head to the opposite side and suck in. The water from the pot goes in that nostril and out the other, clearing out your sinuses and in turn providing glowing, clear skin and reducing any dark circles under your eyes.

They also had to drink a digestive tea which focuses on cleansing your digestive system and eliminates the gases from your body. They were so embarrassed in front of these practitioners (and I would be too) because after they drank, they started burping very deeply and long. To think what we American put in our body…. but that’s a whole other post 😉

Did you know that 1 in 5 children in India are born with a cleft palate?

Jessica has been a part of Operation Smile for a few years  now and since they were in India, they figured they’d go and help one little girl go through the surgery. I’ll say it again, but kids are just plain mean. I know many don’t know any better or some aren’t even trying, but for years this young girl would cover her face while she was out because she felt so insecure. She would ask her dad, “why me?” It was sad. The beautiful thing was that after this surgery, she was so happy and felt that she was beautiful now. I feel it’s so hard to separate an external definition of beauty to an internal when a person’s grown up with a deformity or a reason to be tease externally (whether it’s right or wrong).

The last segment showed them getting ready to go to a Bollywood party. Much like an awards show, there’s a lot of preparation, but of a different sort. First they got henna tatoos. I have to say that I had a friend who’s brother married an Indian woman and after their ceremony, she came back with the henna on her hands. It was amazing. What makes these even better is the designers draw your own story as a blessing.

They also received bindis- the small mark on the forehead- which used show the person’s martial status; however, now it’s fashion symbol. The last thing was a sari, of course.

Did you know that it takes 3 months to create one of these? I’m actually not  surprised with how elaborate they are, but it too was beautiful- all jeweled and brightly colored.

Jessica said she loved the experience and felt like a princess after everything she had seen and wore. She said that India is definitely a spiritual place. They are so comfortably beautiful within themselves that they can show that on the outside with all the color, all the happiness and dancing and love. But I really loved how Ken summarized his thoughts on India. He said beauty wasn’t about vanity, but more of a collection of your history, of your story (like the henna). It’s a celebration of your life, of where you’ve been, where you are and where you’re going and that’s truly beautiful.

Next stop: Uganda!

Did you watch this episode? What do you think of Ken’s words at the end?

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3 responses to “the price of beauty: india

  1. I don’t get this show where I live, but it sounds really interesting. I really think Americans, along with a few other countries, are too concerned with the way they look. I find it quite ironic that Jessica Simpson is doing this show.

    • You and me both! I like the general idea though- to the point that I’m working on a research proposal for grants for a more academic version that looks into cultural nutrition standards and how that plays a role in cultural beauty.

      And don’t worry I still have them all DVRed so if you visit, we can watch- hehe!

  2. I have yet to watch this show but your post definitely makes me want to! (Do you know if it’s on Hulu?) And my mom SWEARS by the neti pot. 🙂

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