What I Talk About When I Talk About Beauty

Komal Basith

A couple of days ago, a well-known designer referenced an article about brightening skin on Jossbox saying that it was ‘shameful’ that an article of its nature featured an image of the gorgeous Lakshmi Menon, a hugely successful, brown-skinned Indian model. While I don’t subscribe to the need to respond to every critic life throws your way, this presents an opportunity to talk about something that is important to me – namely, what it means to be in the business of beauty, especially in India.

There’s an oft-touted assumption that if you have a platform in the beauty industry and you so much as breathe the word ‘brighten’, you’re automatically in the ‘whiter is better’ camp. After spending many years in the industry, I’ve met all sorts; makeup artists who tell models that they’ll never be successful because they’re ‘too dark’, and editors who choose to put ‘dusky’ Indian models over ‘fair’ Bollywood celebrities on their covers six times out of ten. The fact of the matter is there are assholes and regular people everywhere, in every industry, and it’s tough to tell the difference sometimes. I’d like to take this opportunity to say that it is not our intention to be the former here at Jossbox. 

Having said that, we are also not about being ‘pretty’ for its own sake. It’s like Diana Vreeland said: “You don’t have to be pretty, and you don’t owe it to anyone – it is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked ‘female’.”

To me beauty is about choice, choice without judgement. And so I will talk about bikini waxes and Botox and what it’s like to get a nose job here on Jossbox, and stories like those will occupy the same space as the ones about hairdryers and pink eyeshadow and how to dye your hair white (coming soon, once I've achieved the ideal shade) and interviews with editors and artists and designers, each without diminishing the other’s value.

All beauty choices, as long as they don’t hurt anyone, are valid choices for you as a woman or man as far as I am concerned. If putting a mask on or getting a pedicure or even injecting yourself with fillers makes you happy, for god’s sake, go out and do it. I will always champion your choice – without judgement.

Which is why you’ll never see articles that, say, compare celebrity beach bodies, or tell you about ‘beauty faux pas to stay away from’ or promise to show you how to get a celebrity’s ‘enviable’ anything. I thought there was too much of that out there already, which is why I started Jossbox.

About that brightening article – there’s a disclaimer right in the introduction that states that it is not meant to be and is not effective as a guide to whitening your skin, which is genetically impossible. I know that the steadily growing number of readers who visit Jossbox everyday know this already; but there are always going to be a couple of people out there who either believe that to be interested in beauty is to give up your Strong Independent Woman card, or that to be in the fashion or beauty industry in India is to automatically be whitewashed. I hope this clears this up for them.

And to the growing community of readers that writes in so often with your words of encouragement – you make my day every time. Thank you kindly!


Komal Basith.


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