When beauty parlours hijack weddings

On beauticians taking over weddings

May 04, 2018 05:00 pm | Updated 05:00 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

 Illustration: Sreejith R.Kumar

Illustration: Sreejith R.Kumar

I went to my friend’s place on the eve of her daughter’s wedding to find it strangely silent. Of course the invitation card did declare almost as a footnote that there would be no reception on the previous day but many of us have this excellent habit of ignoring such dictates. There might not be an official reception, a very sensible thing, actually, but surely there would be someone to receive me if I visited the house?

I rang the doorbell a few more times with increasing urgency until the ploy of not taking my finger off the bell yielded results; her brother rushed out, wild-eyed and shouting, ‘where’s the fire?’

‘No fire, it’s only me,’ I said ungrammatically. ‘Where are the others? I thought you were having a family get-together.’ The large family was meeting after a long time and I hoped I would get a chance to see all of them before the hustle of the wedding celebrations took over.

‘What get-together?’ he frowned. ‘How can you have a get-together when these women keep disappearing all the time? “Parlour”, says one, “eyebrows,” says another, “facial,” says a third, “upper lip,” says a fourth, hand over her mouth, “hair,” says my wife, “massage”, says my mother and there you are, they all vanish, heading for various parlours in the city. The less said about my niece, the bride, the better. She’s been haunting the parlour for days.

Off to the parlour

Indeed, the word “parlour” has undergone a semantic change, at least for most people. Earlier, a parlour was a sitting room where people met, relaxed, conversed. But now the word has only one meaning, the beauty parlour, and it is as enticing as the parlour into which the proverbial spider managed to lure and then trap the gullible fly.

The beauty industry has taken over weddings in a big way. Gone are the days when a cousin with eyebrows plucked pencil-thin or an aunt whose cracked lips betrayed a trace of dry lipstick was randomly picked to apply make-up on the bride.

The impromptu beautician made merry with the powders, creams, lipsticks and eye makeup at her disposal and set about painting the bride’s face with humongous enthusiasm, zero talent and non-existent skill.

A colour change would be effected on a brown-complexioned bride, turning her face chalky white, as if the very idea of marriage had drained her of all colour, while a fair bride would be made to blush a bright pink and look permanently coy. The hair would be braided by the same unprofessional hands and the flaws in the hairdo covered by the closely-tied jasmine flowers twined around the plait.

Nobody minded this clumsy effort and the other women did their own makeup – a splash of cream, a pat of powder, a dash of lipstick and a quick drawing of the eyes and brows with the eyebrow pencil – and they were satisfied.

Age is no bar

In our image-driven modern world where beauty continues to be skin deep but where the shine and polish of the skin is of primary importance, sophisticated beauty salons and professional beauticians have taken over. Going to beauty parlours has become as necessary as paying the electricity bill, and age is no bar.

At weddings, especially, the selection of the perfect beautician is, next to the choosing of Mr Right, of paramount importance. Once chosen, the beautician takes over, riding roughshod over everyone with her views on the wardrobe, jewellery, accessories and make up, and is consulted before decisions on the time for functions are taken. Even the cocky photographers who push everyone else around have to play second fiddle to the beautician. How can they photograph the bride unless she is released from the parlour? Everyone is kept waiting and she finally makes a very late entrance, especially at receptions.

The well-groomed brides are made to look like film stars, the slim ones like super models. This is after a gargantuan effort stretching over many days when skin, hair, hands and feet are given individual attention culminating in exotic stuff like the golden bridal make-up that makes the bride glow and her parents ashen when they get the bill.

‘When will my friend come back?’ I asked her brother.

‘No idea,’ he replied, looking at his watch with some impatience. ‘But I hope someone returns soon. I have an appointment at the men’s parlour for a facial. And to have my hair set.’

A fortnightly column by the city-based writer, academic and author of the Butterfingers series. She can be contacted at khyrubutter@yahoo.com

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