Forever Young

Why are we so obsessed with looking young? From Oscar Wilde’s iconic story – ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ to the botox treatments and the nose jobs that our actresses routinely have, it has become fashionable to cheat on nature and interfere with the inevitable ageing process. And why we are so mortified with the lines that appear around the edges of our lips and eyes over time? They used to be called laugh lines, but nobody laughs when they first spot them in the mirror. It’s as if we are trying to model ourselves on a completely unnatural ideal – staying in the youth zone forever. Like Dev Anand, who still professes to play the youthful lover, even though he’s now well into his 70s, we want to turn the clock back and stay frozen at the point where we look our very best. One assumes that it is ok for actors and actresses to stretch this line as much as they can. Their bodies, after all, are their money generating asset, so they are terrified of losing out. All those extra hours at the gym, the cosmetics, the diets all go into preserving the form in its most pristine state. Yet, the battle is lost wrinkle by wrinkle

But when does it cross the line?. In an insightful piece, Dominique Browning writing in the New York Times makes a valid observation – We’ve reached a stage where cosmetic surgery is so readily available that in certain circles it is expected of women and men to avail themselves of these age-deniers. (You cannot call them youth enhancers when you are no longer young.) If you choose not to partake of the benefits of needle and knife, you are judged to be making a statement. You are taking a position against the current standards of beauty.

People no longer accept their wrinkles. They want them abolished. In the latest Pond’s Age Miracle ad, there’s another twist – a case is being made for using it early. The only way age can be kept at bay is to tuck away the wrinkles, which affect our expressions. News anchors are meant to be unemotional but they are now turning plastic – incapable of expression because the skin has been pulled too tight. And Botox? It’s strange that a toxin is injected so that it paralyses the muscles and keeps the skin around the eyes taut. This is now widely accepted. How long can breasts be held up? Or noses remodelled? And why don’t we accept that it is our imperfections that give our faces and our bodies character? No wonder it has become difficult to differentiate one plastic made-up face from another one. In the futile bid for perfection, we are turning into caricatures.