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Age is Just a Number

Age is Just a Number

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Age is just a number

In this reflective and candid piece, Dr. Puja Banerjee Barua explores the societal pressures surrounding age , beauty standards, and the impact of social media on self-perception. Through personal anecdotes and societal observations, the article challenges the modern obsession with aesthetic perfection and advocates for embracing one’s natural self. The author questions the worth of extreme beauty measures, emphasizing the importance of inner beauty, self-acceptance, and the celebration of individuality.

In these times of high visibility, attaining a certain age with grace is no mean feat, let me tell you! Gone are the days when one was resigned to one’s fate that hair will begin to turn grey once you’ve touched the accursed number 40 and crow’s feet will also make their appearance as will laugh lines and double chins!

Aging was imminentinevitable and definitely irreversible, in body and in mind!

Then again, any woman who had been through motherhood simply had to have a loose and flabby mommy’s ‘jelly-belly‘, that only their kids felt any love for!

Every man in his middle age (read 40 plus)  flaunted a nice, rounded, well-cared- for  paunch protruding at least 2 inches beyond his trouser belt…..infact the degree of protrusion was directly proportional to the degree of his success!

And now l come to the part that in  today’s date is dreaded the most in the society of the ‘fairer sex‘…… CELLULITE. Even typing out the word here gave me the jitters!

If there is any enemy that all womanhood will unanimously swear by , it is ‘cellulite‘.

Yet, in the good old days of our Thakurmaas, Didaas and even Maa, there was not so much as even a whisper! Not a word on cellulite, no tears shed, no measures put into place to rid a woman’s body of its deadliest nemesis! How was it possible?

Did our grandmas and mothers and aunts and their aunts and mothers and grandmas not suffer the insufferable ‘cellulite’?! Is it even possible that there might have been generations who knew nothing about it simply because they did not have it ?

It is beyond inconceivable to a woman like me who is……well, whatever years old (you didn’t really think l would give away my age, did you?!) and yes, thank you very much, is going through the combined psycho-somatic (Ah! The morbid satisfaction of using big words!) trauma that only cellulite can give!

Worse, the more-than-perfect models and actresses that are being paraded on screens of all sizes surely do not help our cause! Can you even begin to imagine what a woe-begone, cellulite-ridden, flabby-tummied mommy must be going through when she is dished out only and only impossibly perfect bodies on all forms of media, be it social, print, wherever?! To have such unattainably high standards of bodily beauty to measure up to?

How does she deal with the pain of having to accept the innumerable flaws of her body, the unforgiving looseness and laxity of her skin,the lumps of cellulite shamelessly springing up from every possible nook and corner ?!

Not everyone can invest hours in the gym or enough self care, not everyone can afford corrective or restorative surgery, can they?

Also from what l have observed, no matter what one does by way of anti-aging measures, age, my friend, has a way of catching up!

Several rounds of botox and filler-injections later, weary bodies housing wearier souls have to stop somewhere!

Aesthetic and cosmetic procedures can take one only thus far and come with their own share of troubles…which makes one ask…..are they worth all the noise? Is any of them a safe,  permanentlifetime-lasting procedure? No, clearly they are not.

Human beings, over centuries have feared aging, yes, but never more than now. Physical beauty and perfection have taken precedence over matters of the mind before also, but never more than now.

When you have whole apps like Instagram and Facebook that are based on the premise of loads and loads of pictures being taken of an individual and put up for the world to scrutinise and applaud or deride, as maybe the case, there is a very strong case to be made for striving for aesthetic perfection.

Which is a shame. Because we are much much more than our bodies…and faces. Because loving or liking anyone just for beauty is like buying a house for its paint! And to get all worked up over something that is so transient, so superficial ….is it worth our while?

Why should anyone make a mother feel bad for having a lax tummy? Doesn’t she have a baby that she adores which more than makes up for this flaw? Why must anyone make her feel that having washboard abs is the norm and roll their eyes indicating how out of shape she is after having had a baby? A new mother surely has other more important things to worry about!

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Similarly, when cellulite (that bad feeling again!) shows up on a woman’s body,why shame her? Aren’t 40 years on this earth enough for people to know her and look past her outer form? To see only her inner beauty?

I say, free the spirit of a woman from the bondage of aesthetics…let not loose tummies and cellulite define them…let them thrive, unconscious of how their bodies look…learn to love them inspite of and if possible, even because of their physical flaws! Now, that would truly be something!!

I am definitely for all forms of physical exercise and maintaining a high degree of fitness though…anything that makes us stand straighter and look smarter….but l do not think highly of unnatural ways of altering body shape and size just to be camera -perfect, including the ridiculous photo-shopping and ‘re-touching’ features that come along with all smart phone cameras these days! Is anybody out there even real anymore?!

Isn’t it scary that the people you see on social media platforms might actually not look anything like their touched-up photos, or worse still, may look like stuffed toys or unsmiling zombies thanks to botox and fillers and what- not?!!

Women and girls, buck up! Strive hard for physical fitness, for stamina, endurance and well-being…if anything more is attained in the process,consider it a boon. Do not lose your sanity on beauty-enhancing measures beyond a certain point. Because,as they say, beauty is but, skin-deep.


Photograph by Pankaj Naithani

Pankaj NaithaniA Mechanical Engineer by profession, but a photographer at heart, Pankaj Naithani is a budding photographer who loves to capture candid shots, portraits, and street photography.

Insta : NaithaniPankaj

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