F.L.Y (First Love Yourself)

(This post is meant for many young girls whom I know hate themselves and their bodies.)

Way back in February 1990 when Photoshop 1.0 was shipped to its first customer, the Knoll brothers, Steve Guttman and Russel Brown along with Adobe’s creative team looked at it as the programme to help process digital images, the gray scales levels of which Macs could not display. After 6 versions (2.0 – 7.0) the 8th version, Photoshop CS, was released in 2003 and has had 5 more in the series – till C6. The latest version, CC, was released in June 2013.

I delved into the history of Photoshop when I came across two links which laid threadbare how the advertising industry is exploiting human bodies to earn billions in profit for themselves and their clients. They make us buy the products and try new ones over and over again. And the byproduct of it all is the mindless objectification and commodification of women which has led to a lot of other disastrous effects including the abject loss of self-esteem in many young and even old people. It would be wrong to say only women are affected by it – men are too because they expect women to be like in those chic ads. Needless to say it has engineered a vicious circle.

Many young people implicitly believe what they see in ads and posters, films and videos – curvaceous models, fair and lovely skin, lustrous long hair, all the other beautifully seductive parts of the human body. For the old, it is a desperate attempt to regain their lost youth. No one realizes that there is a great deal of difference between what they see in those visuals, digital and in print and what is real – and that there is a great deal of manipulation taking place. Did you know that almost 100% of the pictures of models that you see are altered???

Ah, and it is Photoshop that enhances the quality of these images with its sharpening tools, softening skin tools and also those that create high contrast portraits. Take a look at this image to see how changes are effected. And the result, beautifully sculpted bodies, fairest of ‘fair’ and flawless skins – dreams of many a person, young and old!

The saddest thing is that many young people hate their bodies and have very low self-esteem. They think their bodies are far from what is touted to be beautiful and desirable. This eats into them and each day they lose their confidence. Without self-esteem and confidence they become fragile individuals, ready to hurt themselves and others; and even kill themselves. They hate their bodies and are constantly comparing their body with that of these models. They diet and starve to get ‘zero’ size figures – the result: eating disorders like Bulimia and Anorexia. Thus the effects are two-fold – physiological and psychological.

Today beauty parlours are big time business. Endless hours are spent before the mirror. Thousands of rupees are spent on beautifying activities and cosmetics. Much more money is spent by the rich on Botox, nose jobs and silicone implants various other surgical procedures. Beautifying the body and preserving it is a multi-billion dollar industry.

Feeling good about oneself is one thing – but being obsessed by that alone is sure to drag one’s life into a quagmire of ‘pining for what is naught’. The stereotypes generated through these ads of how a woman or a man ought to be for that matter has only degraded human beings, bringing out the worst in them. It is high time that we see through the profit-making ploys of burgeoning global beauty business.

It pays to watch this Youtube video:

Girls, love your body, just the way it is. Make peace with it. This is what your parents bequeathed you and embrace it lovingly. When you do that, you will find a metamorphosis within and outside you. You look at life in new light and say – Life is Beautiful! We owe this to ourselves!!

I love this Mark Sterling quote: “If you want to Soar in Life, you must learn to F.L.Y. First Love Yourself.”


The Long Walk to Freedom is over

Nelson Mandela who created history has become history. A person I have admired tremendously, I have always wondered what made him do what he did.

RIP - The world will miss your Light...

RIP – The world will miss your Light…

Born to the royal Thembu family, he could have enjoyed his life in a nondescript way. But he did not.

He could have just lived his own life and disregarded the travails and troubles of his fellowmen. But he did not.

He was imprisoned for 27 years. 18 of those years were in a solitary cell, 8 x 7 feet with only a straw mat in the infamous Robben Island prison.

Long before the waters created the divide between the Cape and the Robben Island, it was inhabited by people. But after the Dutch settled at the Cape in the mid-1600s, the Island had been used primarily as a prison. In 1997, post Mandela’s release and after he became the first black South African President, the island become a museum and a UNESCO world heritage site.

The nearly oval shaped island according to Wikipedia is about 3.3 km long north-south and 1.9 km long wide. The swell of the open Atlantic sea breaks on the shore and the coral reefs around and causes the foamy surf of the sea to thrash and pound the island day in and out. The icy winds slash like sharp knives, painful and agonizing.

It is sheer irony and quirk of destiny that such an inhospitable terrain in the four walls of a prison in Robben Island became the cradle of an iconic movement as well as dug the grave of the most inhuman practice of Apartheid.

It is said that he was not permitted to wear sun glasses and the constant glare from the lime stones around damaged his eyesight irreparably. It damaged his eyesight but not his vision for his land.

Solitary confinement is the worst form of psychological torture. Man being a social being, to clip his wings of camaraderie and bonding is the unkindest cut of all. Mandela overcame this cruelest challenge too.

Now, what would that kind of solitary life have done to you and me, ordinary mortals? You can’t even take a few steps to keep your body machine greased and well oiled. We would have become bundles of desperation, frustration, seething with anger – ready to explode and implode, the flames of vengeance sky high and the worst of all an unforgiving attitude, I am sure. But he did not. He said, “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

Many thought a freed Mandela who also became the President could end up becoming a dictator or despot. But surprising everyone, and true to what he said, Mandela never engaged in any witch hunt. He never forgot the ways he traversed, yet he forgave all. He was compassion and humility personified. He believed that education is the panacea to all that ails the world. He said, “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world”. He longed to see a world free of violence and hatred. He said, “We owe our children – the most vulnerable citizens in any society – a life free from violence and fear.” His loved children and said, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

Rest In Peace, beloved Madiba. You are not just of South Africa – you belong to the World. A world that dreams of Peace, Justice and Freedom.

P.S: Wish most of those who are in politics in India would at least take a lesson or two, if not all, from this great icon’s life.