Saturday, February 20, 2010

Being beautiful during lent

The picture of what is beautiful is a constructed one. Culture passes us through the rites of purification and injects the botox of beauty into the skins of our recognition. So we tick off one as beautiful and the other as ordinary and even ugly. Our obsession with outward beauty totally erases the importance of inward beauty.

As more and more people in the church find it difficult to observe lent (due to many reasons), new strategies are used by many to lure people into it. One such strategy is that observing lent is healthy and good for the body. This is true but whether this is why lent should be observed is a question which remains to be answered. Isn’t lent supposed to be a voluntary initiation into piety, humility and goodness to the other? Or is it a way to fight obesity and fat?

When we look around, we get the feeling of a slimmer and fitter world. Everything is getting slimmer and to get into the new cars we need to be slimmer as well. To avoid wasting fuel, there seems to be a call to be fighting fit and slim! So much that even airlines are thinking of charging double the amount to passengers who can’t fit into their small seats. The problem here is not just that a particular passenger is fat but also that the airline will have the trimmest seats so that they slim fit people into their scheme of things.

But obesity is a problem in India and in other parts of the world. So much that it causes diseases and makes the lives of people difficult. But what if we could get our children to play in parks (which is also hard to find these days!), instead of shoving popcorn into their hands and making them watch T.V.?, what if they could get a much normal diet in moderation rather than feeding them to the brim and then worrying about how they look?, what if we could make children comfortable with how they are rather than pressurising them to attain a size zero?

This social pressure gets the young and the old to the operation table, injecting stuff onto the skin to look young and staying away from food to attain that elusive perfect size. This being the case it would be wrong to associate lent with attaining a perfect body. Rather it is an effort to cleanse one’s inside, one’s soul (if I may say that).

One should get the priorities right before observing lent. Lent is not a time when we just cut our weight, lent is not a time to slim fit into a business plan, lent is not just a time to look good and healthy outside. Rather lent is a time to accept everyone as they are, lent is a time when we stop judging, lent is an opportunity to feel beautiful inside and make others feel the same way, lent is a time to be natural, normal and moderate.

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