Goodness gracious me

Meera Syal writes in The London Times:

When I was a teenager, there was only one beauty publication available and affordable, and that was Jackie. Jackie, with its pull-out posters, romantic photo-love strips and Cathy and Claire problem page, where any dilemma could be answered by one of three generic responses: 1) “Remember, yellow highlighter on the browbone, green shadow on the socket”; 2) “Just be yourself. Remember, a winning smile wins the day”; and 3) “You should discuss this further with a trusted adult or a qualified nurse.” The prototype Jackie heroine was always a doe-eyed, slim beauty, almost invariably blonde. This was not good news for a plump 13-year-old Indian girl with fuzzy hair, one eyebrow and — the curse of every Indian woman — luxuriant facial hair. Girls who looked like me were not even cast as the ugly best friend. We were invisible. Trawling the counters at Boots confirmed this: eye shadows in “pearly hues” that looked like snot trails on dark skin; foundations that left not so much tide marks as tidal waves of pinky wash on my face; blusher that changed from fresh rose to lurid orange when applied; and as for anything in flesh tone, er, whose flesh? The only universal product that worked was Immac, and boy, I went through truckloads of that. If I can’t be blonde and fair-skinned, I reckoned, I can at least be beard-free.

But this was pre-Bobbi Brown, Ruby & Millie, and black and Asian models and role models, such as Iman. We Indian girls had our mothers and their home beauty remedies, a near culinary experience as they incorporated various foodstuffs from around the house. Logical, really, as for many women of my mother’s generation, beauty products were hard to get and expensive. So they made do with what they found in the larder.

Read more here.