Saturday, February 17, 2007


Suddenly the Indian cosmetic shelves are flooded with anti-ageing products. Why are we supposed to hate wrinkles so much? They are natural--they form when we smile, when we frown and when we are perplexed. And natural is usually good.

Ad agencies seem to have no scruples whatsoever about promoting these products. The most common mantra is to show a woman in her thirties looking glum, not getting much attention from her husband, and after she uses the magic anti-ageing cream, her husband is unable to take his eyes off her. She is Happy.

Truth is, if your husband is only attracted if you wipe the wrinkles off your face, you're better off with the wrinkles and without him.

Knowing the general population of men, they don't notice when their wives cut off a foot of their hair, wear a new dress or pluck their eyebrows for the very first time. But the advertisements tell us that they will notice the effects of a cream that promises to erase crow's feet and wrinkles over weeks. Give us a break.

Sure, we would like to look better, look younger but if a woman is willing to pay such high prices (some of the anti-ageing products are thousands of rupees for a tiny bottle) to look younger, there has to be a problem--not with her skin, but other things. Perhaps she has troubled relationships with the people in her life so she is desperate enough to try something as superficial as an anti-ageing product to repair her self-image.

Ad agencies who use such psychology are either reflecting the frustrating, superficial lives we live today OR they are underestimating the intelligence of their target audience, the common problem with many of our filmmakers, too.

Instead, sell a concept for the same product where the woman is using the cream so she looks or feels better, rather than doing it to please or win somebody else. Or show the real thing--a model or an actor using it so he or she has a higher market value.

Why do we have so many misconceptions about ageing, anyway? You don't want to be called "Aunty" by a toddler because you don't have children of your own, although you are old enough to have them. You'll be thirty even if you fight it with all your might, and then you'll be forty and fifty and one day you'll be called "Naani" or "Paati". Accept it, embrace it, you'll like it.

Are older people uglier? Nope. There are so many actors who look better as they grew older. Are they less healthy or active? I see a lot of old people much more sprightly than the twenty-somethings, who slouch around as if they are conserving their energy for the years to come. And if we're so afraid we'll be unhealthy as we get older let's adopt healthier lifestyles today.

Are older people not 'in'? Hey, you and I will be the same people inside that we've known since childhood. Don't you remember those bullies you hated in school, your favourite teacher, the way your first house seemed so big then but when you saw it recently you realised how small it really was? Soon we'll be remembering our tenth wedding anniversary, our child's high school farewell, and we'll still be the same people inside, as 'in' to ourselves as we were when we were eighteen.

Ageing is OK, but you want to get rid of those dark patches, that uneven texture, and get a better complexion? Go ahead and use some of those attractive face creams! Just don't expect your improved complexion to solve your problems--that it won't.


manythoughts said...

I have one more issue with these ads, apart from those that you've mentioned. Why must a woman want to fight age to attract her husband, while the husband never does a thing about his beer belly or sunken eyes or wrinkles? If he needs his wife to look beautiful and appealing, doesn't she need an equally attractive husband to match? If you buy into the philosophy of good looks solving all your problems, shouldn't it cut both ways?

Hasmita said...

Very true. I thought of the same angle myself. Good to see your comment here. Will have a look at your blog too!