|HER WORLD||Sunday, February 10, 2002, Chandigarh, India|
Daring all the
Becoming beautiful at a price
Good looks are in demand as never before. With the economic independence that the modern Indian woman is gaining, she is becoming conscious of her looks and is ready to pay a handsome price to look beautiful and young for as long as it is cosmetically possible.
Take, for example, 30-year-old Nupur Mehta Puri. An art director with a leading women's publication, she spends anywhere between Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 on her monthly skincare regime.
This is a major shift from the traditional notion of Indian womanhood. "Earlier, women tended to neglect themselves once they got married and had children. Even their families hardly ever encouraged them to care for themselves. That is changing now with more and more women going out and freeing themselves from traditional familial shackles. These women are becoming as aware of their looks as they are of the other aspects of their lives," says beauty expert Suparna Trikha.
Adds Dr Mukta Sachdev, Consultant Dermatologist with the Skin and Cosmetology Centre in Bangalore: "The concept of a perfect body and face is not a new one; but the Indian woman is waking up to the fact that she is extremely attractive and is now exploiting this awareness to the fullest."
Responding to this need, beauty centres and clinics have mushroomed all over the country. These centres offer treatments for wiping away every wrinkle, tucking in a double chin and making dark circles under the eyes fade away. The demand for these treatments goes way beyond what a simple visit to a beauty salon provides because the modern Indian woman is now looking for beauty fixes which are more long lasting.
The popularity of a new set of treatments, like Botox, Restylane, dermabrasion, chemical peeling, laser resurfacing and laser hair removal, which offer a more permanent solution to regular beauty problems attests to this shift. These treatments generally help to remove a layer of dead skin cells that cannot be removed by regular scrubs or cleansing creams.
Laser resurfacing, for example, is used to clear up scars caused by acne and chicken pox. "Most women today want a smooth skin so they come to us to get scars removed. Laser resurfacing is a purely surgical procedure which requires three to six months for the skin to stabilise," says Dr Munish Paul, consultant dermatologist with the Skin Laser Centre in Delhi.
Other treatments in vogue among young women are laser hair removal that supposedly rids facial fuzz and body hair in four to five sittings, and the Botox treatment or Botulinum Toxin— a bacterial extract which is used to give the skin a smoother appearance.
"Botox was actually created to solve some neurological problems, but it was noticed that patients taking this extract tended to have a smoother skin," says Dr Rekha Sheth, consultant dermatologist, Iz Skin and Hair Clinic, Mumbai. According to Sheth, these injections are not as effective in filling very deep lines in the skin as the new treatments like Restylane and Dermalive.
Restylane is basically hyaluronic acid that is injected into the area to fill the lines completely. The effect lasts for six to eight months. Dermalive, a similar treatment, remains effective for nearly two to three years.
But a youthful appearance comes at a recurring cost because the effects of most of the treatments wear off within four to six months. For instance, in laser hair removal, each session can cost anywhere between Rs 3,000 to 10,000 with no guarantee that the person's skin will be 100 per cent fuzz-free after the sessions.
Anti-wrinkle treatments like Restylane or Dermalive cost between Rs 13,000 and Rs 15,000 per syringe and deep wrinkles need two to three syringes per sitting. The cost per session of dermabrasion can vary from Rs 1,000 to Rs 10,000 depending on the extent of the problem. "Young girls come to me with severely damaged skin because of some chemical cosmetic treatment and ask me to provide them instant relief for their condition, which is not an easy task. In some cases I have had to provide therapy for months before getting any result," says Trikha.
Moreover, these elixirs of youth are not without side effects. While laser skin resurfacing, dermabrasion and chemical peeling can leave the skin very tender and sensitive, Botox might leave behind droopy eyelids. According to doctors, these treatments are reliable only when done by well-qualified and expert dermatologists.
These side effects are a cause of concern given the fact that more and more younger women are opting for them. Initially these skin and facial treatments were meant for older skin types, but now most of the beauty clinics cater to much younger women in their early 20s.
Many young women agree that looking good is important for their self-confidence. "As my face and body create the first impression, I feel that it is important that I have a clear skin. That also adds to my self confidence," says 24-year-old Anshu Modi, a public relations consultant. Ritika Bali, a 23-year-old software professional, says that she does not mind the pain or the time-consuming process of laser hair removal to shape her eyebrows and remove extra facial hair. As she puts it: "The end result is worth it."
Sheth says there is another reason for younger women opting for these treatments: "Today young girls are experiencing premature wrinkling, pigmentation and other skin-related problems due to a stressful lifestyle, harsh weather and pollution. They have very little time to take care of their skin and are choosing more permanent treatments to prevent themselves from looking old at a young age."
Other experts, however, feel that the need for looking beautiful is media created. "More women are getting swayed by what they see on television or in magazines and they set themselves impossible standards. Beauty clinics prey on this mindset and exploit young girls," says Delhi-based psychiatrist Dr Sanjay Chugh. Most of these 'permanent beauty treatment centres' also promise young women much more than can actually be achieved, giving rise to discontent and depression.
Monitoring these mushrooming centres is another matter of concern. Though most of these treatments fall under the purview of the Medical Council of India, the Council hardly ever monitors the market or the clinics offering such treatments, says Chugh. In the meantime, more and more women are undergoing treatments in a desperate bid to look young and attractive.
Daring all the
Be it films, fashion shows, discotheques, magazines, print and visual media or private parties, ‘dress less and dare bare’ is de rigueur. As if proclaiming to the wide world: Women of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your strings.
Beware of Mumbai’s National Women’s Conference (NWC) which has pitched in to bestow, from March next, the Duryodhana Award on offending business houses, print media, film producers and ad agencies depicting women purely as sex objects. The symbolism is significant in that it was this villain from the Mahabharata who sought to disrobe Draupadi, though unsuccessfully. The arrival of the saviour a la Lord Krishna is, however in the present contest, awaited!
Before the hopefuls set off lobbying for the ‘coveted’ award, let them become familiar with various Raakshas Awards awaiting to pop out of the NWC’s portfolio, coming March. These will be conferred on those who employ the media to show exaggerated scenes of sex and violence which lower the dignity of women. Sponsorship is open to the conscientious citizens who are welcome to write to NWC. Good luck and happy tidings.
Has not ancient civilisation celebrated the sensuous body for its power? Was all that goes with it not regarded essential for the society’s well being? After all, the primary function of nature is to maintain the continuum of life.
That ancient India never denied sex and sexuality to her subjects, is testified by the temple architecture, Kamasutra et al. Conservatism crept in our social mores in the Middle Ages in the wake of foreign invasions. Women were forced to become Satis to escape defilement at the hands of the invaders.
The British brought in the much-vaunted Victorian values.
Denouement could not be delayed ad infinitum. Pent-up feelings had to find vent. They did. And did so with a vengeance. The pendulum has now swung to the other extreme.
In sum, both Adam and Eve would agree, to a degree, with James Laver who believed that the same costume would be:
Indecent 10 years before its time.
Shamcless 5 years before its time.
Outre (daring) 1 year before its time.
Smart/Dowdy 1 year after its time.
Hideous 10 years after its time
Ridiculous 20 years after its time.
Amusing 30 years after its time.
Quaint 50 years after its time.
Charming 70 years after its time.
Romantic 100 years after its time.
Beautiful 150 years after its time.
Rohit Bal and Ritu Beri, are your listening please ?
"We are sowing the seeds of our own destruction" by Rajan Kashyap and ‘Make life worth living’ by Dr. Kanwarjeet Kochchar (January. 21) were thought-provoking articles. When will we Indians open the windows of our mind to accept a girl child as Nature’s beautiful gift to mankind? Ironically, while we pride ourselves in belonging to the land of Mother Shakti where goddesses like Durga, Parvati, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Sita, etc. and their manifestations are worshipped, in reality we are slaughterers as we kill female foetuses (if life begins at conception) and strangle or poison infant girls after birth. Strangely, while we profess the need of a son to perpetuate a family’s name, we conveniently ignore the fact that still a woman is required for this purpose. Remember, seeds need a fertile land. Are women just for breeding sons only?
Buddha respected married women addressing them as bindumati (one who applied the circular bindi, symbolic of eternity), as they were progenitors of mankind. We are born from a woman, yet we desire a son to light our pyre to enter swarg. What happens to the law of Karma? Only good karma(deeds) begets swarg which has no place for murderers.
It’s the mother, rather an educated mother who can usher in a sea change. Educated girls will makes enlightened mothers. Henry Ward Beecher’s words still hold good:
What the mother sings to the cradle Goes all the way down to the coffin.
Our system must target and educate women and change their image as well. Then only the circle of ignorance, oppression and orthodoxy will be broken.
Roshni Johar, Shimla
We have wasted many decades in just thinking about this problem without any results. Girls have to change their attitude towards life, specially about marriage .
Once I asked my best friend: "Why do you want to marry?" She had no answer to my question, except :"Because everyone else does so, that’s why". If a girl starts her life with such thinking, what else can you expect from her? They are happy because their husband is.
Jawahar Garg, Ludhiana
IIIParents, of course, prefer sons to daughters to fulfill their mundane needs i.e. to have a son to acquire an heir to inherit the family name and property or to perform the last rites. Such reasons have become secondary now. The fear of abductors and rapists, who don’t distinguish between a child and an adult, haunts them and makes them shudder with utter disbelief and horror. Also, these days one’s daughter is one’s own whereas one’s neighbour's daughter is looked on lasciviously. This type of mentality has to be altered altogether if girls are to feel safe and secure in a male-dominated society. Without the slightest compunction, girls are tortured for bringing insufficient dowry. This is really unfortunate.
We affront and humiliate women by using third degree methods. The tragedy is that we take delight in framing laws but we take more delight in breaking them with impunity.
A girl child should be treated with love, which plays an imperative role in the development of her personality. She fails to pick up things when she is brought up in an environment of neglect, rebuke and criticism. So she should be provided a congenial atmosphere to grow and breathe freely.
Once, a college-going girl confided in me that she was pursuing her graduation just to enhance her value in the marriage-market in deference to her parents’ wishes. A girl should be educated to make her independent economically and to enable her to stand on her own feet. She should be allowed to have a say in her marriage —the decision pertaining to which should not be thrust upon her. Even if she is not a working woman, she does all the household chores and rears children. So her wishes ought to be respected. She should be given a free hand to choose the course of her life.
The day this world becomes a safe haven for the girls/women to move about freely, without fear and anxiety, people will not think twice before giving birth to a girl but will happily accept her arrival in this world.
That might seem to be a tall order but then nothing is impossible for man to accomplish, if he wants to. For that the people, the government, society, judiciary and religious and spiritual heads will have to make a concerted effort. This will ensure girls to raise their heads with dignity and their parents can feel proud of them and not feel that they are at a disadvantage because they have a daughter.
Tarsem S. Bumrah, Batala
Does a boy bring to this world something which a girl can’t? The practice of aborting females is becoming more prevalent because educated women have no qualms in aborting the female child.
From birth, a girl is visualised as a "multi :— purpose servant" in the family. She is neglected while giving nutrition and education.
The sons object in giving daughter their deserving share of family property. Why do people insist upon a son to light their funeral pyre if they’re born from a woman?
Sumit Sabharwal Hoshiarpur.