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Ahhh the tug of war begins between the lure of fair or tanned skin. Do we prefer dark or light skin? Black or white? Creamy or brown complexion? Does the color of your skin make you pretty, attractive, seductive, exotic, erotic, ugly or even repulsive? Is the deciphering of one’s skin color a form of racism? Is the international perception of beauty in keeping with the “western” skin color and hence the aspiration for fair skin? The debate has continued from times immemorial and will continue to be a subject of contention.

The history of fair skin goes back many centuries to when fair skin was a sign of noble lineage, a sign of belonging to the “upper” class or nobility. The reason being that the “upper” class led such a luxurious and decadent life that they never had to weather the harsh rays of the Sun. They were shielded from the harsh UVA/UVB rays by their expensive hats or a multitude of servants carrying umbrellas to shield the milky white skin of the “fair” ladies from the unforgiving rays of the brutal Sun.

In contrast, the “working” class had no option but to toil and expose their skin to the harsh elements of nature, thereby “imperiling” their skin to the rays of the Sun.

The quest for light or dark skin is also marked by cultural and continental demarcations. For example in the Western world a tanned complexion is a sign of a lady of luxury. One can picture a lady languoring and basking in the glory of the Sun to such a point where her skin color is akin to a shade of shiny liquid gold. You can imagine such a lady with a glass of martini between her long manicured fingers, in the most expensive lycra bikini, shades of gold in her hair, exorbitantly priced sunglasses perched on the bridge of her nose….in a nutshell the “Gucci girl.”

By contrast in the Asian world, specifically in China, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, a woman’s beauty is defined by the fairness of her skin. A possible reason is that Western women have been considered the epitome of beauty for centuries, with their fair skin, blue eyes and “golden” hair, just as in the fairy tale “Goldilocks.”

That is why you will often note Asian women driving with white gloves in the heat of summer as they do not want the rays of the Sun to tint their creamy complexion.

In most of the countries in Asia the aisles of the beauty stores—and even grocery stores—are stacked with an array of skin lightening products, including lotions, potions, bleaching creams, etc., all derived to enhance the fairness of the skin by a shade or two.

In India, before the marriage ceremony, a turmeric concoction is rubbed on the entire body of the woman to make her fairer for the big day in order to lure her husband. In fact, there is a popular brand of creams and lotions produced by a major company called “Fair and Lovely,” specifically to bring out the “white” of the skin.

Surprisingly, even men have jumped on the band wagon and the top Bollywood heroes are brand ambassadors for fairness creams.

Crack open any Asian paper, especially from the sub-continent of India, and you will not be able to escape a matrimonial ad wanting a “young bride, highly educated with fair skin, for a handsome fair skinned boy….” Alright, so much fairness makes me get up and dowse myself in a tub of cream!

What is the reason for the lure of a particular skin color? Aren’t we born with a color that nature has bestowed upon us, best suited for our facial features? In my opinion it is a primitive thought process holding on to antiquated pre-conceived notions. Fair skinned girls are associated with innocence, fragility and submissiveness (just like the princesses or fairy tale characters such as Snowhite), which works well in societies dominated by men. Yes, such societies can find dark skinned women attractive, but often in an erotic, exotic way, mostly to derive sexual gratification rather than entering into a long-term meaningful relationship.

I remember a famous ad-maker once said that he looks for fair skinned girls to cast in wholesome family ads as they portray a picture of stability. On the other hand, if he is making an ad for a condom or a lubricating cream, he will look for dark skinned girls as they are associated with eroticism, fun, and sexuality, but not wholesome goodness.

In my opinion, the color of one’s skin is a façade, a mask, a shield. We cannot determine a person’s goodness, value system, sexual preferences, or biases by their skin. We need to dig deeper for that!!! So, let’s raise our glasses to both “my fair and my dark ladies”!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IXweyahEuc

As per Indian superstitions and predictions a baby born with a gap-tooth is lucky and is said to acquire much wealth in the future.

If such is true, my very “lucky” male model at the top shouldbe sitting on a gold mine.  In fact, he should have some of the gaps filled with gold in order to “narrow the gaps.”  Yup, a lot of bling will be needed to fill those gaping holes!!

The Western world has an obsession with perfection…the perfectly sculpted body, the perfectly coiffed hair, the perfectly done nails and the perfectly shiny, sparkly 32 teeth with no gaps!!

The idea of perfection goes back to the Utopian perception of an uber being with supreme intellect and no flaws in the physicality.  If you see ancient sculptures, you will note the perfection in the teeth rising straight from the roots.

So, with our pre-conceived notions for the “perfect body,” a gap-toothed modernchild is carted to the dentist at the earliest possible age such that the little one’s teeth are bonded, braced, veneered, bleached and made to look like all the other perfect little set of teeth in his classroom.  The child’s first step in a million towards the wretched road to conformity!!

However, in fashion there is a dichotomy. Perfection is sought, but at the same time uniqueness or non-conformity is valued as well.  And how is one unique?  Well, a little detour from perfection;a little departure from what is considered the “traditional form” of a perfect face or body; a little flaw; a little deviation from the wretched conformityis unique.  A GAP-TOOTHED model is UNIQUE!

In modern times, in my opinion, Lindsey Wixson has a look that is beyond unique.  It is a “signature” look.  No surprise that she is walking the ramps of the biggest fashion houses.  She will be remembered for her look in times to come.

What about Lauren Hutton or Bridgette Bardot? Their signature look was the gap-teeth and in fact to some extent has become their legacy.  Imagineif Lauren Hutton’s motherhad her teeth bonded at an early age.  Do you think she would have the inimitable look remembered for decades by all; do you think she would be still modeling well into her 60s….I think not.

Since, one of the key components of fashion is commercialism in addition to creativity; the whole gap-teethed model phenomenon is being fully exploited.  The top models these days, in addition to Lindsey Wixson have gap-teeth including Lara Stone, Georgia May Jagger and Vanessa Paradis.  The fashion magazines are discussing gap-teeth and the bloggers are furtively typing their opinions on the widening gap.  I think the gap-tooth model is appealing to the viewer as it portrays a child-like innocence.  The viewer can identify with the not so “perfect” look.  It is uncommon.  It is novel.

Yes, you can call it a fad, passing fashion frenzy, the “it” look for the season, but bear in mind that it pays to be unique.  A perfect example is our top gap-teethed models who are blinging their way to the bank.  Is it their good luck as per Indian superstitions or is it that they dared to non-conform?  I think uniqueness always pays off.  If not in dollars and cents then in retaining your true individuality, which is worth more than any bling.

So, don’t “bridge the gap” and wait for the luck to kick in!!

I have always been attracted to clothing with lips and hearts images.  A pair of luscious deep red puckered lips on a dress or a t-shirt is attention grabbing.  It leads the viewer to concoct images of love, sex, foreplay and desire.  For me it is just striking.

Similarly, a heart knitted into a sweater conjures images of love, vulnerability and happiness.

Lips and hearts on clothing are conversation starters.  Plus you simply cannot ignore the cuteness and sweetness factor.

Of course, do not overdo it and become a walking, talking emoticon wreck.  Don’t wear the heart sweater with heart necklaces and earrings.  But, try something different. Go down the not so well traveled road…for example try the hot red lip boots….yes, it is a diversion from the standard lip images on t-shirts and dresses and keep the rest of the look minimal and tailored. Wear it with love and blow kisses when you get compliments!

Androgynous: having the characteristics or nature of both male and female. (Merriam-Webster dictionary.)

A woman wearing a tailored Savile Row suit, vest, slim tie, crisp white collared shirt, cufflinks, Oxfords, black rimmed eyeglasses and a hat.  Hot or not??  If you say NOT, please STOP reading any further and return to your generic, white-bread life.

There is nothing cooler, hotter, more seductive and captivating than a woman wearing an androgynous look.  Women probably are attracted to the look as it stems from the deep seated desire to usurp the century old power vested in men; it is role reversal; it is gender bending; it is rule breaking; it has shock value.  On the other hand men find women sensual in the look (or should) as it is fantasy; it is kinky; it is confusing; it is intriguing.

Women dressed as men have been historically seen in performance arts and mythology.  The Greeks and Hindus are examples of such.

In modern times, fashion designers and Avant-garde celebrities have utilized the look to shatter the traditional fashion norms and invade new fashion territories.  From the YSL suit, to the Church’s Oxford; from the boyfriend shirt by the Olsen twins to the boyfriend blazer by Stella McCartney; from the latest collection of Dries Van Noten inspired by the “handsome woman” to the Chloe loafers.

http://www.net-a-porter.com/product/81159

From the past who can forget Lauren Bacall, Marlene Dietrich, and the oh so lovely Isabella Rossellini who has given a whole new meaning to wearing a suit.  From the modern times the poster girl and representative of androgyny is Agyness Deyn.  She is the epitome of style and glamour in men’s wear while still retaining her femininity and sexuality.

My advice to the rule breakers and the fashion-forward dressers is that if you are bold enough to take the risk of dabbling with the androgynous look, dare to go ALL the way!  Do it with style so that it does not look “costumey.”  Don the flat Oxfords, wear the vest, tie the tie, (I am not a smoker, so will not promote a cigarette dangling from your lips.)  I WILL recommend wearing make-up as we do not want to go for the grunge-man look.  Keep femininity and sexiness alive.  And most importantly, if you have long hair please pull it back.  The cascading hair is not befitting for this look.  It makes it to be a “Stripper ready to Spin on the Pole” look.  We are not going for such an effect….maybe another day, another time, but not now.

So, do it with confidence and panache and I assure you, never before will you have received as much attention as you will now.  So, ladies empower yourselves and reverse the roles!