“Indian women are comfortable with their own skin, people shouldn’t form opinions on how an ideal women should look like.”

Aashvi Parikh

J – Thank you for your participation in this interview, firstly tell us a bit about yourself.

Thank you, Jay, for considering me for this interview. I’ve been a makeup artist for two years now. I love to watch fantasy fiction tv shows and movies, and that’s what made me fall in love with makeup, SFX makeup and prosthetics. I also realised I love helping people get ready. It kind of made me happy that people trusted me and wanted my opinions and inputs when they dressed up.

J – What are the challenges you face as a make-up artist?

I think the biggest challenge is to build your kit from scratch. Beauty products in today’s age are really expensive and it’s a huge amount to invest in if you want to be a professional make up artist.

People expect more for less: Every client wants the best products used on themselves and want to hire a skilled makeup artist, but are not willing to pay for the blood and sweat the artist has put into their training and their products. People don’t look highly to make up as a career option or anything regarding beauty.

Trying to make some clients comfortable in their own skin. A lot of times clients want to be fairer, or wonder if I’ll be able to cover their eye bags or acne.  Today’s beauty standards have made it difficult for people to be okay with who they are. So I have to be cautious when I’m speaking about their features or skin conditions and make them realise, that everything is natural and beautiful just the way they are

J – There is a perception that wearing make-up and applying beauty products makes you a fake person and not natural. Your thoughts?

I don’t think this is true at all but yes, some people still think this way. I think makeup is a choice and form of self-expression, doesn’t make anyone unnatural or fake. I am disgusted by the fact that there are some views in today’s day as well. For example, wearing a red lipstick is considered to be worn by women who are seductive, or trying to be adulterous; shaming people for wearing makeup and saying things such as, “She only looks good because of makeup” or “She’s not pretty in real life”; so on and so forth.

Also, people do have this common misbelief that women who wear makeup constantly are not comfortable in their own skin. I think a lot of women in India are comfortable with their own skin. And I don’t think people should form any type of narratives or opinions on how an ideal woman should look like.

J – Do you feel that society’s expectations of women are so unrealistic that they have to look in a certain way to be considered “feminine”?

More than anything it’s unrealistic and bizarre to me that why should society have expectations on how people look.  The expectation of how women should look a certain way and behave a certain way to be feminine not only affects women but also men. The fact that there are trends for the ideal body type every decade should be something that needs to stop. Women shouldn’t have to be skinny, curvy, or plus size to fit the latest ideal body type is appalling.

Also, mindsets in India like fairer skin is beautiful and unfair skin is ugly. This not only affects women but also men. Men also get teased for looking effeminate or being effeminate. But then you have, amazing men, like Mark Bryan who wears a skirt and high heels to work every day who challenge gender stereotypes.

Thus this standard of femininity is very faulty and appalling to a huge extent where it harms all the genders, as it creates gender roles and biases. Whereas gender is fluid, and people’s looks and dressing choices shouldn’t define that. I believe the way you look, dress and behave is all a part of one’s individuality and has got nothing to do with anyone’s standards of beauty or sense of femininity.

J – Do you feel that the beauty products are being advertised correctly?

Well, most beauty brands retouch their brand photos to make the product seem as seamless and flawless as possible. But skin has texture and flaws, and very few beauty brands actually don’t mind showing that. But a few brands, take away the cake in setting horrible beauty standards. I remember seeing an ad by an Ayurvedic company selling a face wash, had 2 female actors out of which one was ‘sanskaari’ who used Ayurvedic products, thus she was beautiful and the one who was bold, modern and ‘bindass’ didn’t use Ayurvedic products, and thus was acne-prone, a little duskier and ugly. This is not only wrong on so many levels, but also creates stigmas such as acne-prone skin is ugly.

Media influences all of us heavily and thus helps in creating such toxic beauty standards.

On the other hand countries like Spain and Italy have made laws around photoshopping magazine covers and agencies and brands cant discriminate against models for their weight. Such countries are going forward in the right direction.

J – What is beauty in your view?

I feel beauty, according to me, is self-love and self-growth. People need to focus on personal growth more, and everyone should have high self-esteem and love for themselves. Whether you put makeup or don’t put makeup, whether you dress stylish or comfortable, or whether you look a certain way or not doesn’t matter. I believe for beauty standards to get better people shouldn’t have an opinion on other’s bodies in the first place. Why have an opinion on someone’s choices or self-expression? People can choose to hide their insecurity with makeup or surgery or can choose to be okay with themselves however they are, or just apply makeup because they enjoy applying it and dressing up.

Applying pressure on people to be okay with who they are is also traumatising and toxic as well. Let people be. Instead, people should realise that fashion and makeup are great art forms and there is no right or wrong. It’s okay to be obsessed about the way you dress and it’s okay to walk the streets in rags. We shouldn’t set a standard for anything. Not force people to be more natural, or more unrealistically perfect. Everybody, do fucking you!! And be the best at being you. It’s really important to love yourself and give yourself the appreciation you deserve.

Thank you so much for reading. Wishing all the women out there, a very Happy Women’s Day!

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram to make sure you don’t miss out on any other interviews.

Twitter – @bhavsarJ2_0
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