Grooming is big business of the modern era.

Look around yourself and you find most modern-day urban citizens being groomed in some art or craft that can widen their ‘appeal’ or enhance their commercial prospects. So, from being groomed in business management to dentistry, cooking to tailoring or just the plain art of public speaking, there is a market that abounds in gyrating to train people in various aspects of life.

But in an every day lingo, grooming is generally associated with being well trained in social etiquettes of personal appearance. And pray what constitutes that? Well, it is something that is far difficult to decipher simply because it has myriad interpretations and depends largely upon the social milieu to which a person belongs at a given time.  So obviously, what is chalk for some may be cheese for others precisely because of personal tastes, preferences and prejudices.

Grooming is akin to polishing of a rough uncut diamond to a fine shimmering state of brilliance whereby it dazzles as well as entices the viewer. As society is gradually becoming obsessed with visual appearances more than inward beauty, there is perhaps today a greater demand on looking or appearing good. Just a couple of decades ago, grooming was confined to combing well oiled hair into a neat design. But today’s youth, with ever expanding horizons, is meticulous about personal health and hygiene so as to present a formidable outwardly sight to all those who come in its contact. Wanting to make a favourable impression on the outward world, the modern generation takes pains to see that its visible attire and countenance is in tune with the trends and tastes of the prevalent times. And thus grooming has become of paramount importance in a dazzling world where everyone is looking for “fifteen minutes of fame.”

You could call it vanity or vainglorious attempt at personal gratification but the fact remains that the modern youth is thirsting to prove itself in whatever manner it can. So if our grand dads were satisfied with passing a slick comb through the hair before an important function, today’s youngster would see it to it that it has matching accoutrements to go with the nature of the occasion. Careful thought goes on into selecting trousers and shirts or skirts and blouses to go with its shoes and sandals for an evening date or an official meeting alongwith choosing the right kind of fragrance or cologne to match the mood of the moment.

There is an innate desire to look and act different that sets the tone for personal grooming amongst the urban youth. It wants to stamp its signature on everything that it does and, precisely for this reason, there is a huge demand for fashion accessories that could make him or her apart in a crowd. Consequently, you see exotic fabrics; psychedelic colours and bizarre fashion cuts taking centre stage and you wonder if it is indeed your own swadeshi India or some quixotic downtown America. You may or not agree with what goes into “grooming” of the personal self but you have to hand it out that the young have a flair and zest to carry out innovative designs and patterns that would petrify many a ‘swinger’ of the earlier decades.

Personal grooming is indeed a serious exercise of the new pulsating India and has led to multi-million dollar businesses evolving from Hauz Khas to Daltonganj. If men are pumping iron at the gym to tone their biceps, women are lifting weights to maintain their curves in appropriate places and none of them is at all shy of doing so. Chiseling their figures, making up their faces, adorning themselves with apparel or jewellery, grooming now includes a whole gamut of activities that could make you enhance your “attraction” in the commercial super market. Many even undertake lessons in art of public speaking or personality development to “market themselves” at a premium in the marriage or job market, as the case may be.

So from the time of our fore fathers, the world has come a long way! They might have learnt the rudiments of language, science and social graces sitting under a banyan tree, while oil dripped forth from their heads, but now you have large scale institutions grooming you in multi-dimensional activities provided you have the will to learn and yes pay! If grooming meant pleated trousers, tucked up shirts underneath well ironed blazers, today it could even mean flaunting your mid riff torso from beneath a torn denim jacket, all in the name of being groomed in the latest fashion!

But isn’t it surprising that despite the large scale attempts at grooming youngsters to be independent, confident individuals most actually appear to be clones of one another? Most youngsters look, walk and talk in such identical manners that there hardly seems any difference between any two specimens and you wonder where is their grooming? If you doubt my statement, take a walk in any urban mall and you’d find it difficult to specify whether the person before you is a he or a she! May be grooming still requires a personal touch that would treat people as human beings and not commodities that need to be trained in “exercises.”

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