The beauty beast
We spend a fortune on creams, potions and lotions to stop the aging process. But little do we realise that real beauty lies in growing old gracefully
PHOTO: K. ANANTHAN
FACE FACTS You can’t wipe off the wrinkles altogether
Fifteen lakh entries in Google, a billion-rupee business around it. Our “Forever Young” anti-ageing (AA) craving isn’t new, but it’s certainly huge and growing. Oh yes, we’ll do anything to look frozen in time. We’
ll let the scalpel, syringe and needle nip and tuck, boost and burst, pull and stitch. We’ll colour our hair, bleach our skin. And we’ll spend, and how, on creams, lotions and potions — small fortunes on finger-tipfuls. Beauty is in the texture of the skin; and we don’t want to grow old, gracefully, or otherwise.
It’s a cruel irony. The more we try to look young, as opposed to live young, vibrant and healthy, the more we seem to grow old. As we desperately try to arrest aged looks, we seem to be accelerating the ageing process. “It’s pre-mature ageing (PMA), a mismatch between our inner, functional age, and our visible calendar age,” says Dr. Kousalya Nathan, Age-Management Consultant, who holds an American Board certification in Anti-Ageing and Regenerative Medicine. She should know. She runs the country’s first anti-ageing clinic.
PMA indicators are all around you, she points out. “Middle school girls look like they are 21, ten-year-olds need larger clothes than their counterparts in the 80s, boys age faster hormonally than they did 10 years ago.” She finds polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) on the increase among girls in the 16-25 age group. Poor memory, glasses in primary school, grey hair, baldness at 30, heart disease/diabetes at 25, difficulty in concentrating, early menarche, infertility, hypothyroidism — yes, the four throttles of ageing (stress, blood sugar, free radicals, increased insulin) are on overdrive.
“Our 24/7 work culture doesn’t allow time with family to share anxieties. Emotionally buffeted, we find comfort in food, end up with more calories than we need,” she says. There’s no serious self-introspection, no depth in our thinking or communication. We allow “experts” (and advertisers) to make decisions about what we eat, how we live, what we really want to do. Our level of maturity doesn’t catch up with our older looks.
There’s no miracle cure. “People fix faces and bodies to look young, I would research on prevention,” Dr. Kousalya decided.
Half-hour exercise a day, five servings of fruit, whole foods, a litre and a half of water and 8 hours of sleep is a good beginning.
“Make fitness a long-term investment. Get into life-long relationships — friends or partners. Socialise. Prefer marriage to living-in. Analyse what you’re doing. Resist peer pressure. Biologically, we’re programmed to grow, age. But socially, do we go beyond having a “good time”? For instance, what do festivals mean beyond being shopping sprees?”
We’re genetically foodies. Do we know “how” we eat? When we ate sitting on the floor, we stopped at the 50 per cent satisfaction point. We sat at tables and had a 75 per cent fill. Now we stand and go on eating. We don’t know health is not absence of diseases, but a state of physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being.
Life of moderation
Our age is like our bank balance. Burn it wisely, you age gracefully. Borrow on it only to bring on the spend-first-pay-later syndrome. Yes, those credit-card nightmares. “Ageing is an attitude,” she says. “Your health is your responsibility, you can’t outsource it.”
Moderation and balance. Make that your mantra. With the leap in life expectancy, you’re likely to see great grandchildren in our lifetime, vote more times then your ancestors did and draw pension for several more decades. It makes sense to maintain an even, manageable speed to last long without organ replacements, food restrictions and unwelcome syndromes. You could go the way of AA food, AA cosmetics, AA injections, AA surgery, AA treatments and now AA gene therapy. Or take the road currently less travelled — an AA lifestyle. A life that’s led happily with minimal medication.
Spiritual health is basis for anti-ageing
Eat a balanced diet. Drink water
Learn something new. Develop a hobby
Talk to people who lead meaningful lives
Go for an AA kiss (Kissing stimulates more than 30 facial muscles, and tones your cheek and jaw muscles)
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