By Shruti Kothari
With the advent of dating apps where you can swipe left or right based on photographs, the value of physical appearance has never been more apparent. Or perhaps it has — in the long tradition of arranged marriages, often a photograph was all the prospective spouse would receive, and before that technology, a painted miniature, if you had the means. It made sense, because your gorgeousness was an indication of your health: good skin could denote an excellent immunity, where you hadn’t contracted smallpox or the like. If you had a Habsburg Jaw, well, no one was about to marry into your family, except maybe your family. And of course, a woman with wide, childbearing hips — could anything be more desirable?
Good health meant more robust offspring, a safer household, and more economic prowess, where your hot hubby could bring you more rabbits, or turnips if you’re vegetarian like me, if he kept up with his morning HIIT routine. The thing is now we’ve got medicine, both chemical and mechanical, to fix your eyesight, or quell your smallpox, or surgically birth your child (although I don’t believe a cure for the Habsburg Jaw will ever surface). Moreover, sometimes the skinny-with-glasses aesthetic is a better indicator of success in today’s technology-driven world, where a sure sign of wealth is a lopsided posture as the person’s body has warped and twisted towards the sliver of sunlight filtering into their computer-filled basement.
Of course, there is the sheer joy of gazing upon something beautiful, like watching Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Hrithik Roshan in Jodhaa Akbar (2008). But that’s so much more achievable now, too. From the million lotions, powders, and beard oils on the market, to more hardcore options like plastic surgery or liposuction, it’s far easier to look the way you want; so much is based on your grooming rather than your genes. In fact, good grooming shows both good taste and a willingness to put in effort, which speak volumes in comparison to innate privilege. Even better, the standard of beauty is deviating further and further from one widely accepted look to welcoming all types of bodies and hair textures and heights, again making physical beauty a more common asset.
It would seem that brains are the new sought-after variable. For example, there are dating apps which only allow people with Ivy League degrees to join in the lurid carousel of swiping (yay!). I personally base my opinion of someone’s smarts on their competence in any field, be it cricket or the ability to hustle and haggle with street vendors. There’s a certain conviction and commitment it takes to reach a level of excellence, and in the fast-paced society we live in, adaptability is the key factor required to thrive throughout technological shifts.
So I say, if you have to choose (ideally, you don’t), go for the brilliant beau over the one with the luscious locks (extensions will do) or perfect pout. I don’t know why you’d take advice from someone single, but since you already are, I’ll share with you the best part about not dating a Deepika Padukone. Being brainy is way less immediately apparent than being hot, so you are saving yourself from having to bat off every librarian, Starbucks vendor or jogger at the park for ogling your other half.