Aging seems to freak people out! Bottles of lotions and oodles of cream all with suggestive magic-potion qualities to halt the next wrinkle in it's tracks, are discreetly written on fancy labels, like whispered love messages meant only for you. To be seduced and to seduce others into this illusion of eternal youth is a multi- crore global industry today, with the exploitation of vulnerability at it's epicentre. I have been flaunting my age and wrinkles since I was thirty! Often mischievously from the delight of the discomfort that others have when age is openly addressed, but more seriously because I have witnessed the self absorption that women in particular succumb to, as they make their appearance becomes the major representation of themselves, and let it dominates every aspect of their lives.
Closeted cosmetic surgeries soon become addictive and it is rare to have a Rakhi Sawant of Big Boss fame, who openly shares her "what God doesn't give, the doctor fixes" attitude with unabashed candour on a television chat show with millions of viewers. Right now her appearance holds a charm because age is still on her side, but flick your T.V channel and catch Joan Rivers the American comedian, and her face looks grotesque despite the humour with which she attempts to pass off her addiction to cosmetic surgery, because addiction it is. Yesteryear's hero Dharmendra looks tragically comic with his face-lift that belies the truth of his age which his eyes give away in an instant. Where has the elegance of aging gracefully gone ? What thrill do we get from an artificial construct of ourselves that is transparently obvious ?
I have encountered elaborate stories of concocted illness related by those with this affliction ( that they believe naively others will buy!), to explain away the scars of cosmetic surgery. It is common for people to even get into debt over these attempts to create their "perfect image". What becomes the danger of this addiction is that with very body part that gets "fixed" another area becomes the focus of obsessive discontent, and this cycle of tampering becomes never ending.
Please do lets look our best, both women and men. I think it speaks well of our overall state of mind to do so. But lets draw the line at "getting things fixed". We have started determining reality from the pages of fashion magazines and the dreams sold on the red carpets of film fantasy! I don't mind if a surgeon suggests a tummy tuck at the time of abdominal surgery that is already scheduled, especially for women under going hysterectomies. But let's not get on that operation table to reclaim youth by stretching our facial skin to become trampolines of our dreams, or putting silicon in our breasts to imitate genetically engineered ripened fruit, because such concerns talk about a lack of spiritual depth and a lack of inner confidence.
In my belief to live life so as to illuminate our vision of purposefulness becomes more a more valuable tribute to the gift of life itself. It is this spirit that we need to embrace within ourselves in which lies a beauty that far outshines the external representations of physical perfection; and is one that age can never alter.
(Photograph: Surendran's mother Devikiamma who has raised 5 children as a widow, and till recently was personally active in tilling and farming her land. Her face is the epitome of grace and strength; and great beauty. )