Was at a supermarket last week when the sales person at a cosmetic brand counter was demonstrating an anti ageing formula to me. She was trying to tell me how within 3 months of usage I could lose wrinkles and look visibly younger. I was amused and asked her how old she thought I was. "40s?" she hazarded so I told her that she was correct and why she thought I should look any different from a person in the 40s at such an exorbitant price.She was puzzled at my simple logic and I am sure she thought I was slightly crazy.

The reluctance among women to give in without a fight to the process of ageing took over the west a few decades ago and now it has spread to India too. At the minimum, almost every woman over 30 colours her hair to cover the grays at least in the cities. Cosmetic surgery is still popular only among the rich and famous and those in the beauty industry and actors. But most city women have been tempted by one or other of the anti wrinkle solutions or anti ageing creams available in the market. Botox treatments and liposuction are not totally unheard of.

Why are people willing to subject themselves to such processes in order to resist looking their age? I understand the need with people in entertainment industry as their appearance ensures longevity of their career.

But why are women in other professions obsessed with looking younger? I think ageing gracefully is more about keeping oneself fit and active as long as possible without feeling weak and dependent. It has less to do with looking like a 30 year old when you are actually 50. Acceptance is an integral part of turning 40 - one has to learn to accept that one no longer has the stamina that one used to have at 20 and 30 and that there is a limit to the kinds of indulgences one can permit oneself. One has to learn to accept a few wrinkles here and there and new gray strands every few months. There is a difference between taking up an arm chair giving up on life and acceptance which is a positive approach to the inevitable process of ageing. It is important to be physically active and self sufficient for as long as one can rather than retiring from ones life at 50. But most people seem to confuse being young at heart with looking young.

I think there is a beauty that shines through a person who ages gracefully accepting the natural changes in her body rather than the constantly surprised look of a person who has had a facelift. It is certainly not possible to reverse something as natural as ageing - the best way to handle it is to wear the wrinkles with dignity. Something which our earlier generations did without even trying.
21 Responses
  1. Hip Grandma Says:

    your post reminds me of a friend and colleague who retired six yrs.back.we still love to get together at her place and generously treat ourselves to her lipsmacking andhra cooking, amazing sense of humor and a warmth which knows no parallel, at least to my mind.her agility belies her age and her attitude is one of ever learning.the way she carries said it in the crispiest manner 'aging gracefully!No amt of foundation creams and anti ageing creams can change one's attitude!

  2. passerby55 Says:

    hi USHA.

    i am Glad to read a new post here,

    "why she thought I should look any different from a person in the 40s at such an exorbitant price"

    crazy..haha *bet you she had no answer to that*

    A good post, very relevant one.
    To write about it and then conclude to mark
    "the best way to handle it is to wear the wrinkles with dignity"

    USha, indeed you have aged beautifully and productively.

    We don’t need to look outside ourselves for anything. We are capable and complete if we learn to within ourselves.

  3. Anonymous Says:


    This post should come out in a women's magazine. I see the covers of so many magazines at the newsstand promoting creams, therapies and home remedies to "look a lot younger than your age". Very very well written !


  4. Hip Grandma Says:

    i said you were 'unputdownable' in more ways than one.yor are so readable that we cannot put you down.glad you're back.please give us details vof the imposition of the 'ban'

  5. Hi Usha,
    I read your posts often, this one inspired me to post a comment.
    What you have written is absolutely true - the beauty of aging gracefully is something that cannot be matched! If one is 40 and it shows, I feel one should be proud of that fact - of having lived 40 years of health and wonderful life, instead of hiding it all up behind masks(which when removed acutally make you look 10 years older).

  6. Visithra Says:

    How well said-the thing is the age of the skin is directly linked to the mind - the older u think the older u look - if one must look younger they should think that way as well

  7. 3 Cheers to you!

  8. Anonymous Says:

    May be cosmetics, as a simple placebo, make them "think" they look younger.. ;)

  9. Movie Mazaa Says:

    am reminded of being in a mall with one of my colleagues in her late thirties. the sales girl barely into her twenties offers to help her out, but calls out 'aunty' a bit too loud, in the process. now acutely embarassed, my colleague confesses to me, that its hard the first time someone addresses u as an aunt, but that u gradually get used to it. she didnt seemed used to it, though, the way her face was twitched!


  10. GudCritic Says:


    Good post.

    You are spot on. BTW, no one would say that a person died, by mere looks, at an young age of 40 eventhough he was 60.

    Who are we trying to kid?

  11. Shashi Iyer Says:

    haha. loved this. you rock :D

  12. Usha Says:

    Hipgrandma:that sounds like fun. I wish I was living in your neighbourhood!Absolutely, what we need is a formulation that can take the wrinkles away from our thoughts and perspectives!!Just the kind of comment I'd have expected from a digital grandmaom such as yourself!

    Passerby:oh yes, her bosses hadn't trained her with an answer for a crazy customer like me. Yuo should have seen the look on her face. She was quite relieved to let me go!

    Guns: No women's magazine is going to publish it - all of them get their advertisement revenue from these products and promote them enthusiastically.

    Vidya: I have a friend who describes me as "chronologically gifted". The trouble is that however much one tries to fight it, it is only a losing war. So why not learn acceptance? And yes, imagine the horror when you take it all out and look into the mirror. Thanks for the comment. Look forward to more.

    Visithra:The high bones and skin tone are all inherited. Finally it is what we make of ourselves in terms of what is inside that matters and is really beautiful or ugly.

    Archana: Thanks.

    Kishore: Placebo, perhaps but pretty expensive also. The capsules this girl was trying to sell me was a bottle of 60 at Rs.3800!And even most of the lesser priced ones are around 150 per bottle!

    Velu: I have been there before too. As a newly wed at 21, I came to our rented house where the house owner's daughter, 19 year old addresed me as "mami!". It is like aslap on your face when you hear it first. Even today I flinch when someone over 25 calls me "aunty" I prefer to be addressed by my name with a ji if you must.It has nothing to do with refusing to accept one's age.It just seems unnecessary when we are all adults that one should feel the necessity to add an aunty or uncle after the name.

    rediscover: heheheh. good observation. he suddenly died of old age !!!

    Shashi:Thank you!

  13. Mahadevan Says:

    Ageing gracefully has been one of your pet themes. Didn't you write beautifully in one of your blogs "Wrinkles are trophies that you get for no achievement, but for having survived the battle of life"? Accepting facts of life is not fatalism. There is a grace in acceptance. As you have observed correctly, only where age matters, one can try to look young. A fifty something trying to look thirty, would be ridiculous. A man or woman above forty shouldn't mind being called 'uncle' or 'aunty' as these are words of endearment and not ridicule.

    Incidentally 65% of Indians are below 30 and 54% of Indians are born after 1980. In a few years hence, when the entire Europe and China would be ageing, India would be full of youngsters - neighbour's envy perhaps.

  14. Usha Says:

    Mahadevan: Yes I have spoken about this before - now I recollect.
    That is an interesting statistic - young and resurgent India!

    Hip grandma: For details on blog ban, pls check Kishore's post ( link o the sidebar)

  15. Usha

    First time here.. Good Article.. Syncs well with me..

  16. sinuma Says:

    Graceful aging! yes I love that.
    In thirties u r aunty in 50s+ your granny/ know children are sweet devils.They exactly judge you by your looks.Aunty and granny is not embarassing but through a childs mouth it is thrilling.

  17. Aatma Says:

    Hi Usha,

    I agree to aging graceful. But the reason behind all these creams and other stuff - Is to look good. I don't think anyone out here will disagree from the fact that they want to look good. At every stage of life, we all try to take care of ourself in the beauty department, so why not when u are older. I disagree that it is a western concept, even in India people take great care about their looks.

    I tried my level best in understanding people about why they are fixated on looks but believe me everyone is, Men and women alike.

    So why not at 40 - Healthy and Beautiful - Take care of how u look ;)

  18. Usha Says:

    Ram: Thanks for the visit and the comment.

    Sinuma: I think children would rather call you by name - it is we who "train" them into calling akka, aunty etc...Children have no preconceptions about anything. They are indeed sweet devils.

    Aatma: Preserving what you are naturally endowed with and obsessing about looks are 2 different things.
    It is one thing to make the most of what you have and quite another to "fight" natural changes through interventions like Botox and cosmetic surgery - as far as I can see they came from the west.
    I agree, everyone likes to be called "beautiful" but the difference lies in the perception of beauty.

  19. Preethi Says:

    That was a wonderful thought!
    Yes.. we have to age gracefully.. :)
    Though it is too early for me, I often think how I would be when I am 45 or 50.. Donno how far I will be able to keep up the same pace, but I would want to age gracefully with people around respecting me for what I am.. :)

  20. Sphinx Says:

    I remember somebody telling me that her sister cried and cried the whole day when she turned 30. I also remember an incident, when a 13-year old wouldn't touch sweets that were placed in fornt of her because she did not want to lose her figure! What a sad state of things...

    They say that at 50, a (wo)man has the face they deserve.

    As the saying goes, I's rather see the face one earned at 50 than one thanks to beauty science.

    Also, in west, the plastic surgery addiction is rampant. I'm dreading the day when it shows up here.

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