The new normal has perhaps done for women’s liberation what the old normal’s Women’s Lib couldn’t do. By making de-glam the new glam, it has liberated women from the compulsions of superwoman-hood, like looking picture perfect for all reasons and all seasons, come vain or shine.
Never mind if new normal’s narrative of women’s liberation has got to do more with ‘cosmetic change’.
On the eve of Women’s Day, here’s unmasking cosmetic changes scripted in the Women’s Lib narrative and here’s raising a tongue-in-cheek toast to new normal’s emblems of empowerment.
What’s one of the invaluable lessons the pandemic has taught us? That burning bras may not be the best path to gender equality. For the simple reason that in pandemic season it’s more practical to convert bras, hitherto destined to become martyrs in the feminist ritualism, into ‘burqas’ or, as yours truly earlier coined the term, ‘half burqas’, or as some smart humorists called them ‘face bras’, the alternative catchphrase-ism for none other than new normal’s sartorial emblem —the mask.
The perfect practical gift of the pandemic to feminism is thus not bra burning, but bra churning. Churning out and converting all outdated (or outsized) lacy lingerie into that ubiquitous face mask may be a more practical Pandemic ploy.
Of (No) Lipstick Under My Burkha
If you belong to the section of quarantining India’s womanhood that found itself bearing a poetic resemblance to bushy pet poodles or pomeranians as far as flaunting furry epidermis goes, pandemic’s phraseology such as ‘lady-stache’ will strike an instant chord in the cockles of your heart.
A quarantine season that gifted a whole new vocabulary of phrases —‘lady-stache’ (female moustache), ‘maskne’ (acne induced by the mask) et al, has translated this downgrading and de-grooming into emblems of liberation.
By making zero makeup the new normal, it’s liberated an entire generation of pandemic’s womanhood from the pressures of living up to the cosmetic stereotypes – of 24×7 looking prettier, younger and sassier. It’s liberated womanhood from the dependence on the perpetrators of these cosmetic stereotypes — blushers, balms or botox.
Zero lipstick is the new mantra of the new normal’s greenroom —Zoom.
India quarantining spelt not only womanhood’s liberation from lipstick, but also lipstick’s liberation from traditional roles.
The zero dependence on lipstick and newfound liberation from the vanity box, has seen not only womanhood reinventing itself, but may also see the lipstick being reborn. And how!
What better than to wear this lipstick liberation on the sleeve by dabbing that hot red lipstick not on masked lips but employing it as a ‘marker’ or ‘crayon’ for highlighting presentations on Zoom meetings!
The curious case of ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ being reborn as ‘Lipstick on My Browser’.
Of 50 Shades of Grey
A spillover of the liberation from the vanity box has been on the scalps of India quarantining. Denied access to salons and hairdressers during Lockdown, many a blow-dried and colour coiffured specimen of womanhood was left high and dry without her desi or non-desi Chinese hairstylist, be it a Spruce “Lee” or hairdressing’s Hoo’s Hu.
What this translated into was quarantined diva-hood first trying a hand not at painting the town red, but the head red. When these exercises in cranial camouflaging became cumbersome and when zero socialising made pandemic life not something to ‘dye’ for, there was born another chapter of womanhood’s liberation —freedom from hair colouring.
If during the pandemic you suddenly sighted status update-ism on the social media boasting more than Fifty Shades of Grey, you saw it right. You were witness to an unsung New Normal narrative of women’s emancipation from the pressures of camouflaging their age under layers of hair colour.
The curious case of Who Moved My Hair-Grease!