Thanks to my love for swimming, I have been frequenting the women's locker room at the exclusive country club (an integral part of the hip and happening lives of the neo-age Gurgaonites these days). The chlorinated smell mixed with the aromatic fumes from the shower rooms brings back memories of yester years as well as thoughts about how things are different.
Nakedness is pretty demystified in Western locker rooms. But wonder just how do Indian women deal with a public place for private affairs! Are they shedding their inhibitions as they shed their clothes? Isn't the locker room the only place you can do that without giving two hoots about what the world thinks? After all, its for the women, by the women, and so forth, right?!
Well, Apparently not. Just as easy it is to attract a man's attention..its just that hard to hide from a woman's gaze. At first glance, all you see is lot of skin, waxed legs, designer swimsuits and loads of sunscreen getting applied(yeah..baby), but there's also sets of critical eyes that are checking you out. Surely there's a democracy of women, but where vanity reigns supreme. One's influence is calibrated through one's physical attractiveness. Just track the server girls(yes..Gurgaon clubs have server girls in the locker rooms to hand you the towels from the racks and fill your cuppa water before and after your swim.) and you'd understand.
So you're left with only one choice...Flaunting off your fairer skin and most toned curves while tucking in the inches and hiding away fat in whatever little lycra is at your disposal to bring out the most possible near-perfect appearance outside the changing room. Alas, your hair cannot come to your rescue since that has to be tucked in the cheap fakes of Reebok swim caps (Why don't they make designer swim caps..surely an untapped market opportunity!) Rest assured, everyone else is doing the same. That's a pity..considering Indian woman that has just begun to set free from her traditional avatar, is now getting trapped in the confines of her external appearance. Some even take it to the extreme...by applying lipstick (well, ok lip gloss) and practising their smile before taking the customary dip. (Too much FashionTV I say!).
But at the same token, if her toned body and facial-ed skin is giving her the ability to face the world confidently, so be it. (In fact, my patronage to the health clubs and beauty industry in India). The shyness that she harboured because of her conservative cultural universe is slowly giving way to the shyness that's now coming from her cellulite marks. Luckily cellulite marks are not as permanent as age-old social blocks imprinted on her mind.
By the by, while we are still in the locker room...why is it that we don't give ourselves the luxury of upgrading our inner wearings, while everything external from swimsuits to bathtowels have to be designer? Most of us still hide our lingerie as if its a loot from the hood. Is it because its not for the consumption of the external world and therefore not consequential?! Why do we try so hard to please the world while ignoring our inner-self?
But I see hope when teenage girls in their tees come zooming in and zoom past, completely oblivious to this locker room charade. Their nonchalance makes me believe that they will be comfortable in their own skin, designer-wear or not. And I sigh relief.
Btw, for the menfolk, here's a video that be more appropriate:
Peeping into a Women's Locker Room