“The term ‘anti-ageing’ may as well be anti-human, anti-reality, anti-the-normal-course-of-human-existence.” quips Meghna Bhandary, founder of a city’s blow dry salon in Bengaluru. A report by the British Royal Society for Public Health, published in June 2018 recommended that the term ‘anti-ageing’ be abolished in the beauty and cosmetics industry, stating that the repeated negative use of the term projects that ageing is somehow embarrassing or shameful. The report goes on to say “anti-ageing narratives are pushing unrealistic body norms and poor body image, ultimately affecting women’s health behaviours.”
Women sometimes are pressured to reduce visible signs of ageing. “There are two types of lines” explains Dr Amee Daxini, MD Dermatology. “The dynamic lines are frown lines which disappear when you don’t frown. The static lines however, can be reduced with medicated products but are impossible to remove.” To age gracefully means freeing women from the pressure of the ideal image of beauty. According to the well-ageing idea, women should enjoy their age and appear healthy rather than looking young.
Rather than reversing the clock, one should feel confident and be the best version of oneself. Ex Miss India and wedding planner Divya Chauhan feels that the desire to look young is unnatural. There has to be a cultural shift. “Unlike western countries where the aging happens almost suddenly, Indian women perspire quite a bit given the humidity and as a result the skin is supple for a longer time. After 40, the metabolism changes, there are physical changes, the approach should be on upping or maintaining activity level, on ensuring that women can do everything they desire. All this will counter the effects of aging. There is no point in living in a distorted reality or denial about youth and its loss.”
Women would also like to see women in their age group advertising products aimed at them. Marketing consultant Priyanka Rajwar feels muffled to see younger girls play roles of women in happy families projecting much older women. “Remember the ‘Santoor’ soap ad? The woman who is 30 something (married and has a kid) is being mistaken as a young girl. The actor in the ad film was of course a young girl, but playing the role of a much older woman. She would like to see “Celebrities in ads to play their age.”
It’s now time to talk about healthy and radiant skin. The lines do not measure one’s success or happiness. “Many people see the ageing process as a constant losing battle and make things hard for themselves by internalising society’s ingrained ageism. Unfortunately – “looking younger” is what most people want to hear and that mindset needs to change. Once the thought process of the consumer is changed, it will end up changing the advertising terms used by beauty products.” Explains Bhandary.
Dr Amee Daxini works with women every day. She feels, “Beauty markets take advantage of insecurity. Aging also happens because of UV rays and infrared rays. Most Indian women who cooking at stove tops are unaware of the exposure to gas. As far as numbers go, only 10 percent of the urban women use sunscreen. It helps in preventing aging and pigmentation. Fairness is a bane in India whereas the cumulative damage of age is spots and pigmentation. Women crossing 50 find it difficult to accept the pigmentation.”
There is no expiry date for women to look good. A consumer shift is occurring in the beauty industry with more inclusivity and diversity. Sabrina Suhail, make up artiste and a beauty entrepreneur makes products that go with individual skin and nourish rather than cover age. In her experience, “personal care is important. Face massages and workouts help in blood circulation which keeps you looking fit. Make-up and skincare is a luxury women invest in, but if they can embrace who they are then that works fine too.”
This Meryl Streep quote rounds up the philosophy beautifully. “Don’t waste so much time worrying about your skin or your weight. Develop what you do, what you put your hands on in the world.” Let us change the way growing old is discussed. Aging need not to be resisted, there is beauty in the passing of time.