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Braveheart

The Beatles sang,

“All you need is love”

and they may well have been right.

In our increasingly urban world of nuclear families and zero work-life balance, the emotional support system of a loving, caring partner becomes even more important. Ironically, it seems like the demand for such a person is going up just as the supply is diminishing. It’s not that our capacity for love and caring has diminished.

But it seems like trust is so much harder in our times. Break-ups and emotional upheavals are as commonplace as economic fluctuations. Leading a person on with no regard for commitment, is a socially approved activity with the disclaimer of ‘String along or be strung along’. An abusive or cheating partner is entirely your problem. While the world clicks its collective tongue at such occurrences, that’s about as much sympathy as you’ll get, and even then, grudgingly.

And after you weather the misadventures of these cruel times, what’s left of your heart to share with another person? Multiply that by two and it makes the fate of love seem very dark, indeed. Love maybe a universal need but relationships are certainly not for the faint of heart.

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A version of this appears on Yahoo! Real Beauty.

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What Do We Look For In A Partner?

I heard something interesting in a recent Twitter conversation on dating:

adityab@ideasmithy I think men & women actively look for vulnerability in partners. After all, why would we need another person otherwise?

Really? I don’t mean that sarcastically, I mean really, really, REALLY? That isn’t true of me. Honest, it’s not.

I know I’ve always looked for only one thing in all my men. It’s not easy to find which may explain the high turbulence in my love-life and I’ve made plenty, plenty, way too many mistakes. But what I’ve looked for has never changed. It has always been – STRENGTH.

Strength isn’t a simple word or quality at all. After all, how do you define strength? It is the physical aspect of it of course which encompasses massive force, stamina, endurance, staying power and pain tolerance. Speaking of which, it is interesting to note that men score better than women on the first two while women seem to outrun men on the last two. A man may be able to pick a motorbike or even a car up, he may smash a wall with his fists but a woman will outlast him on situations of sustained pressure and well, a dentist’s appointment. 🙂

Coming back, it may have been the obvious thing for me to be drawn to huge Arnold Schwarzennegar types but I actually wasn’t. Well, perhaps the extra chubbiness around all the men I knew back in my early days may have been just that. Okay, end of pop-Freud.

But I was always drawn to a guy who was ‘the most’ in something or the other. The flashiest dude, the most mysterious one, the superbly brilliant guy (and so what if he was a geek with the social skills of cheese). In my mind, each of these extremes required a certain force of character, a certain solidness of mind. That is something I have always and will continue to respect and admire.

I am looking for a man who is his own master and who isn’t afraid of anything. Well, the last one should not be as impossible as it sounds. If you are not afraid to be yourself, believe you me, you’ll not be afraid of much else. I’m looking for a man just like that. Vulnerability doesn’t come into the equation then. At least, as most of us understand it, it is usually displayed as a fear of something, a weakness of a sort. That takes a man down in my eyes. Even stubbornness (which going contra to some of the personality types I outlined earlier) since an illogical attachment to any point of view is just juvenile and weak too.

Okay to come back, I’m still wondering – are other people really looking for partners who exhibit the same fears as them? Or who lack in something that they themselves are good at? Considered from that point of view, perhaps I look for strong men to complement how weak I really feel. How’s that for honest? Hmm, it’s not a nice realisation to know that I’m just as guilty of the ‘a strong man to protect me’ syndrome as most of my sex.

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A version is posted on Yahoo! Real Beauty.

Well, every day you learn. Thanks, Aditya for the tweet that set me thinking!

Everyone Wants To Get Into My Wallet!

Late one night as I was driving down the city, I looked up at a huge billboard of Sushmita Sen, an advertisement for Kiah jewellery, which said,

You are the occasion
You are the celebration

I told him,

I really love that ad!

He smiled and said,

You would. It celebrates you, after all.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

Earlier in the month, I wrote about my first experience with luxuriant self-indulgence, the retail therapy way. I wear my diamonds with pride, a pride that comes not exactly from their aesthetic value but from the knowledge that I earned the power to buy them for myself.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

A few years ago, I wrote about the Superwoman. I don’t know whether to be happy or not that it’s turning out to be prophetic. Take a minute to think about my words..

I am the center of a marketing model titled “High income single decision maker”
I am the brief given to fashion houses when they design the new Prada suit
I am described as ‘Joan of Arc meets Helen of Troy’

We are indeed, the hot new consumer demographic. Urban women, financially self-sufficient with all the trappings of our successful professional status – the need for new status symbols combined with the ability to pay for them.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

Our parents’ generation saw the upsurge of women at work and all the initial beginnings like the glass ceiling, women bosses et al. Our generation in contrast is the one that gets to enjoy it (and be taken advantage of). We’re prominent for our purchasing power and marketers have been quick to pick up on the need for our own set of status symbols and paraphernalia. I speak as the target group of a woman who earns and has the independence to spend. I also speak as a marketing professional, seeing the other side of it, so to speak.

Successful men who earn well have been well tapped into as a market and are induced to spend on everything from their own selves (personal gadgets, cars), social settings (restaurants, pubs, sports activities) and all sorts of dating-related paraphernalia (presents for women, tokens of what makes them an ‘ideal partner’). What do their opposite numbers in our sex have?

We have shoes, clothes, bags, accessories, jewelery, make-up and personal grooming services. If the men-targeted products homed in on the traditional masculine need to be macho and an alpha male, we are being targeted for our vanity and need to be ‘the babe’.

Of course, the more complicated dynamics of women actually competing with each other in these stakes is well played out. What else do you think Bhala uski saadi meri saadi se safed kaisi is?

The more expensive products are obviously affordable only to a certain type of woman – she has a career, she’s ambitious and wants to be respected for her intelligence, she doesn’t want to stand in anyone’s shadow, she has a personality of her own. And hence diamonds, super-expensive shoes and clothes come with the messages that they respect your individuality, celebrate your independence and will take Visa as well as American Express.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

I was invited to the premier showing of the big Hollywood release of Confessions of a Shopaholic. I saw the movie with a group of girlfriends and all of us identified with the heroine. We would, she’s based on us after all. While the movie is meant to be a really light-hearted comedy, it points to something deeper.
I got to wondering about the phenomenon of shopaholism. Is it a reality that we’re likely to be facing very soon? All manner of excess is driven towards filling a need that hasn’t been satisfied earlier. So women who binge are thought to be unconsciously compensating for a lack of affection in their lives. What unmet need are we trying to plug with this excessive buying?

Becky Bloomwood in the movie nails it on the head when she explains her addiction,

Because when I shop, it feels so pretty, so nice, so good! And then it doesn’t so I have to shop even more!

True to all successful marketing strategies, this one also gives us a taste of what we like and then leaves us begging for more. Shinier hair! Higher heels! Bigger (and smaller) bags! Cooler sunglasses! Brighter make-up! Lotions, creams, gels, powders, liquid liners, sticks, brushes, concealers, colorants, rinses, crayons, cakes, gloss, sequins, beads, rhinestones, denim, silk, linen, velvet….the list never ends.

So for all our gloss and gorgeousness, we are nothing more than the product of a very successful marketing program designed to relieve us our newly-minted paychecks. ‘Fabulous’ is the bait they use to lure us in and the looming bill at the end of the month is the hook.

It used to be about too many people wanting to get into my pants.
Now everyone wants to get into my wallet!!

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