Monday, January 12, 2009

Global Beauty

I recently returned home from a two-week trip to India where I was working with a non-profit called Longitude to build houses for members of the Untouchables caste. Although I was working with the poorest of the poor, I was struck by the pride these women took in their beauty. They were strong, fearless, and passionate women on the inside, and drop dead gorgeous on the outside. It was amazing to me how in the midst of such poverty, women still take such pride in their beauty and fashion. In India, married women wear saris. A sari is a strip of unstiched cloth that is wrapped around the waist, with one end draped over the shoulder. They come in colors and patterns as unique and stunning as the women that wear them. It’s a beautiful site to see women working out in the dirt and under the hot sun, building houses, doing laundry, and walking miles to collect water, all while looking like they’re headed to the Indian Golden Globes in their colorful saris! Indian women also adorn themselves with bangles, earrings, and a necklace. They are almost never without their full set of jewelry. Even the poorest women I met, living on one meal a day, still had their jewelry, most of which has been passed down through the generations. The biggest beauty must have? Henna! Women (and even many of the men) decorate the palms of their hands in this reddish brown ink made from the henna plant. Since I was in India during the holiday season, a time where henna is used to celebrate, I was able to see tons of beautiful henna hands, and I was even able to take part in the festivities…the women dressed me up in a sari and covered my hands in beautiful henna patterns. It was such a wonderful experience, and was fascinating to see the beauty practices of women across the globe!

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