bodies for old souls
New bodies for old souls
Men and women in their seventies and eighties are fuelling the boom in cosmetic procedures. Maxine Frith looks at the makeover trends in the UK.
While demand for surgery has remained stable among the younger generation, it is their grandparents who are increasingly paying out for facelifts, nose jobs and other youth-enhancing operations.
Research by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) has found that old age pensioners now have the money and the motivation to go under the knife in a bid to look a few years younger.
Septuagenarian men who have much younger wives are paying for surgery to equalise the physical differences in age, while improved techniques mean that surgery can be safe even for 80-something women.
The BAAPS audit of 119 of its members in private practice found that last year, 16,367 procedures were performed, compared to 10,738 in 2003.
Breast enlargement was the most popular operation, with more than 3,000 carried out in 2004, along with 2,470 reduction procedures.
Eyelid surgery, nose reshaping and facelifts were also among the top five procedures. For the first time, surgeons were also asked about any age trends they have spotted in the people coming forward for treatment.
There have been concerns that more and more teenagers are demanding surgery as a result of increasing pressure to live up to the look of super-slim models and plastically-enhanced celebrities.
However, most surgeons said the number of teenagers and younger patients had stayed the same over the past five years, while an increase had been observed in older age groups.
Adrian Richards, a consultant surgeon who runs The Gatehouse Clinic in London, said: "We are now seeing people who, 20 years ago, would not have dreamt of having cosmetic surgery but have now changed their minds.
"The techniques have
got better and safer and I think older people are more prepared to consider
"Older people now increasingly have the money to pay for things that weren’t available to them 10 or 20 years ago," he said.
"The man who had otoplasty told me that he had been teased all his life about his ears and now he finally had the money to do something about it, he was going to have it done.
"We also see men who have married younger wives and want to take 10 years off their face.
"One man I saw said
that when he picked up his children from school, he looked older than all
the other parents and so wanted a face lift.
A recent report by the think tank Demos also identified the latest generation of pensioners as "the new old" who are determined to combat the ageing process by buying youthful brands, adventure holidays and cosmetic surgery.
Market analysts now spend time trying to chase the "grey pound" as Britain’s ageing population has become increasingly wealthy and willing to spend money on their own looks and wellbeing.
Douglas McGeorge, president-elect of BAAPS said: "We live in a well-off society where people now retire to start a new life.
"Social stigmas about cosmetic surgery are less common, and as they young, people want to look younger. "My oldest face lift is 81 and the oldest set of eyes 82. "Although some teenagers do enquire about cosmetic surgery I can’t say that the numbers are large or noticeably increasing."
— The Independent
If Henry Higgins were alive today he would have got the answer to his question Why Cant A Woman Be More Like A Man? that he asked in the classic film My Fair Lady. A new research has revealed that the modern 21st century women have more in common with their menfolk than ever before.
According to The Independent, the research by Patricia Hewitt, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in Britain, provides a bird’s eye view of women’s public and private lives in today’s Britain, charting dramatic changes in education and employment.
The report reveals that today’s empowered and liberated woman likes to go out for drink with her friends, is probably trying to quit smoking, likes to drive herself and is increasingly likely to spend much of her life in boardroom rather than the bedroom.
Women are also doing better than men, especially at school and university. Women are more mobile than ever before with a third reporting that driving is their main form of transport and 61 per cent holding a full driving licence.
Even the difference in life expectancy, 80 years compared with 76 for men, is predicted to narrow over the next 25 years. "Life in general for women now means a lot more stress. There is little difference between the lives of men and women and both end up doing almost the same things. Except that women have to juggle a lot more than men have to," the report quoted Beatrix Campbell, a prominent feminist writer’s views. (ANI)
Vibha Sharma on the first woman to enter the CPM Politburo
Brinda Karat, CPM Politburo’s first woman member, who led the All-India Democratic Women’s Association, is an interesting study in contrasts.
For one, who fought her way up to the top, in this case an-all male preserve that the CPM Politburo till very recently was, Karat zealously guards her privacy. The face of activism prefers to be faceless. When quizzed about her future plans, she is not very forthcoming. "Not now please," is all she has to say.
One of the most vocal voices of the women’s movement, the half-Punjabi, half-Bengali Karat, with her all-too-familiar trademark red bindi on a very Indian face, happens to be a former Miss Miranda House. The former trade union leader, now does not want to say anything about it and is known for her opposition to beauty pageants.
After passing out of Welham Girls’ School in Dehradun, Karat managed to get admission in Miranda House, undoubtedly one the most prestigious colleges for women in Delhi, on the basis of her achievements in athletics in school.
In college, she also acted in a play, The Mermaid, with Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal. Sibal had a part where he had to hold Karat, who, since she was playing a mermaid, could not walk. And for doing just that Sibal became quite a celebrity in St. Stephen’s College.
Interestingly, the firebrand leader, for whom issues concerning women, minorities and dispossessed social groups are on the political agenda, it was in England that she was initiated into politics.
While working for Air-India in London, she campaigned against the mandatory wearing of skirts in the airlines, after which she became an activist. When she came back to India, Karat knew she wanted to work for people.
Not very surprising then that the urbane and media-savvy former trade unionist also has her share of admirers and detractors.
Brinda was born in 1947, at the dawn of India’s Independence. Like the other Midnight’s Children, she too grew up with the legacy of the Independence struggle and hope of the new world. In niece Shonali Bose’s Amu, Karat plays the mother of an adopted girl orphaned in the 1984 riots.
It is a role very true to that of political activist, which she is in real life. It is a one-time effort that she doesn’t want to repeat or talk about. "It is an old issue. I did the film for a variety of reasons," is her reply.
Bose cast Karat as she found the real-life activist a very good actress and the reel role very close to her real personality.
For Centre of Science and Environment (CSE) Director Sunita Narain, being handpicked to head the newly constituted five-member task force to review the management of tiger reserves in the country came as a surprise.
"But an understandable surprise. The CSE has been actively trying to build up a consensus by advocating the need to review the tiger conservation strategy," is what Narain, who waged the much-publicised war against pesticide content in soft drinks, has to say.
"To save the tiger, the country needs a new approach. The existing tiger management excludes the involvement of local people from tiger habitats. It can never work in a country like India where the livelihood of local people is dependent on forests. What we need is a conservation strategy that involves forest people so that they in turn become protectors of tigers," says Narain in an interview.
A CBI special investigating team that probed the disappearance of tigers from the sanctuary also submitted a report to the Prime Minister, indicating large-scale poaching behind the tigers missing from reserves. The decision to finalise the five- member task force, with Narian as the Chairperson, was finally taken by the Prime Minister Office last week.
Narain, who calls herself an outsider as far as the tiger issue is concerned, "Especially with four very experienced members, tiger experts H. S. Pawar, Valmik Thapar and Samar Singh and ecologist Madhav Gadgil, on board the task force" says perhaps a person like her was required to understand the situation from an outsider’s point of vie.
She hopes that the task force will be able to submit its report in the stipulated three month’s time.
"It is difficult to say how much we have lost. But the core issue is not that but to understand why we went wrong. And we do not have to lose the last tiger to do that. Tigers were not discovered recently. The Sariska story tells that our wildlife management strategy requires a review."
She says tiger conservation in India is dependent on a census method which is far from reliable. "The methodology of searching for pugmarks is doubtful for the simple reason that our tiger habitat extends over 300 million hectares. Unlike the West, our protected areas are inhabited by millions of people. But the present mission of protecting tigers has resulted in isolating poor people and curtailing their rights. If you isolate and destroy their livelihood, they will be left with very few options—either to migrate or become poachers," she adds.
Local forest people so that humans and tigers can co-exist in harmony. Besides this, it will also suggest other measures to strengthen tiger conservation in the country by improving the methodology of tiger census and forecasting.
The task force assisted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests will work on incentives for the local community and forest staff posted in sanctuaries and national parks.
Besides this, an effective human resource plan for tiger conservation and wild life managers, methods of transparent professional audit of wild life parks and placing data on tiger conservation in the public domain by sharing concerns of conservation are part of the plan.
Swabodhini caters to
children with autism, cognitive disability, attention deficit disorder,
Down’s Syndrome and those with delayed development.
As a school teacher, Radha Ganesan encountered a couple of differently-abled children. She was confident that such children, when provided with special care, could be brought closer to normalcy. She started giving extra attention to these children and found it challenging to teach them. Every skill had to be taught differently and broken down into many steps before it could be perfected. Seeing her efforts bear good results, Ganesan wanted to reach out to more children. Her experience of working with those two special children had been gratifying. She decided to devote her life and means to the cause. Swabodhini, a school for special children, was born in July, 1989 at her residence. In 1994, the Swabodhini Charitable Trust was formed to generate funds to run the school.
The two-room school has now expanded to a large two-storied building with a provision for providing various therapies in-house. Swabodhini now caters to children with autism, cognitive disability, attention deficit disorder, Down syndrome and children with delayed development. The school has a strength of 70 students between 2 to 20 years and they are grouped depending on their levels of functioning.
What is offered at the school is ‘special education’ with an individual education programme for each child, behaviourial management, remedial education, computer education, occupational therapy, movement therapy, experiential learning, vocational training and training in National Open School exams. Ganesan has visited many special schools in the US, UK, Singapore and Malaysia to get an update on the latest methodologies in training these special children. The institution strives to ensure that all special children become valued members of the society.
Born in Chennai, Ganesan’s family moved to Malaysia during her childhood. She completed her schooling in Kuala Lumpur. Graduation brought her back to India, she completed her bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Trichy.
"It was few years after my marriage that I thought of doing something more useful than just being a homemaker," she recalls. In 1986, she completed postgraduation in English Literature from Madras University and started teaching English and Social studies in a local school. There she had her tryst with destiny. "I met two children with special needs in my class. One of them, a small boy was so hyperactive that he would be jumping the whole time and eating off the collars of his shirt that it would be in shreds or eating the end of pencils. But he had an exceptional ability of telling the day, if you told him the date spanning from 1800 to 2100. I used to feel sorry for the boy’s mother. So I would sometimes volunteer to look after the boy for a few hours on Saturdays to give her a break. Over the course of the year, the boy’s behaviour improved and that is when I realised that I could help these children."
"The boy has now finished his BA in history with the help of a scribe and is a teacher trainee with Swabodhini and is paid a salary. I am so proud to have met him because he brought a new meaning to my life," she says. As a teenager, Ganesan has been reaching out to the less fortunate. When she was just 17 yrs old, while coming to India with her family by ship, they were forced to stop their journey as they saw a Japanese fishing boat had capsised and 20 fishermen were floating on rafts and logs of wood. She collected money and clothes from the co-passengers for these poor victims. When their ship arrived in Chennai, she was interviewed by some reporters and it appeared in the papers the next day. She also got a letter from the Japanese Ambassador appreciating her and inviting her to visit Japan. Ganesan’s mission is to create awareness for disability thus creating a movement that would grow slowly, gradually, often painfully but nevertheless steadily.