Go get a new face!


Bollywood actress Koena Mitra, sporting a tattoo on her back, walks the ramp at a fashion event. File photo
AFPBollywood actress Koena Mitra, sporting a tattoo on her back, walks the ramp at a fashion event. File photo
In an extension of the look
good, feel good, reap good
 philosophy, young men
and women are going
under the plastic
surgeon's knife quite heedlessly
One almost wishes this could be
 dismissed as some crazy one-off
 fad. But it isn't. Reports from at
least two of India's metros,
Mumbai and Delhi, suggest that
a new nose, a deep dimple, the
banishing of male breasts and
suchlike are just what youngsters
 want before joining university
or starting a new job.

A new personality obviously
equals new confidence to take
 on the world for these people.
When it comes to inspiration,
they seem to be vulnerable to
all sorts of influence, be it the
faces of the cookie-cutter telly
 serials or articles in the media
on how the better looker is awarded the better job.

At which point, one must bring up the case of Debrahlee Lorenzana in the U.S.,
 who in June this year filed a suit against her office, a prominent banking outfit,
 charging that she was fired for being too beautiful.

This, then, is a twist to the cosmetic surgery boom that prevailed across the country
 from Bangalore to Bhopal, Jabalpur to Jhansi. A few years ago, it was all about
liposuction, male breast reduction, rhinoplasty but the parameters were also
clearer: it was the middle-aged man or woman who went under the knife.
Which meant it was all about adults taking some kind of informed decision.

Today when one hears of people in their late teens and early twenties who would
rather work on their face than their skill sets or CV, it is a telling statement on the
state of society today. South of the Vindhyas, however, getting your appearance
 fixed still seems to be a strange notion. Says Vijay Nagaswami, Chennai-based
psychotherapist and relationships consultant: “I haven't observed such a trend
and all I have to say is that every generation has its own pet body peeve and the
 need to make a statement. However, when this gets carried to extremes and is
 no more a fad, but related to one's self-esteem, we have a problem on our hands.
For instance seeing a plastic surgeon to re-shape a nose, especially when it's not
 broken, or trying to surgically sculpt Jessica Alba's face on to one's own just to
 please a boyfriend — that's when one realises that all's not well with the world.”

The doctor further says, “Unfortunately, the attitude seems to be, if I'm not born
with it, I'll pay to get it, whether this applies to a nose a chin dimple, or whatever.
 This puts us on a slippery slope. It means we derive our self-esteem from what we
 look like and not who we are. If this becomes the rule rather than the exception,
we are going to require plastic surgical makeovers every few years. But if we learn
 to accept and love our faces and bodies, the way they are, then we can really start
 loving who we are as well.”

Says Ritchika Dsouza, in her early 20s and working for an NGO in Bangalore: “I have
not heard about stuff like this happening, not here in Bangalore, not when I was
studying in Mumbai or working in Hyderabad. Then again, I'm not surprised
about stuff like this happening in Delhi; I think girls and boys in Delhi can go
really crazy about their appearance!”

Megha Radhakrishnan, in her twenties and working in Chennai, is charitable
when she says, “Personally, I do agree with the ‘look-good-feel-good' maxim.
But to what extent can you play with it? If you were applying for a job as a model,
actor, a media-based role, maybe (and I still say maybe) you would think about
stuff like this. But for university, for a new job? That's stretching it a bit too far.
I have to ask: where are your values placed? In your skills, the kind of person
you are, ability, credentials... or the shape of your nose? I guess it shows
where we place our focus.”

And when it comes to skewered focus, one cannot escape the responsibility
of parents, either. Children consciously or unconsciously emulate the ways
and beliefs of their parents. A healthy sense of self-esteem is one vital asset
parents can hand down to their offspring. Contrarily, feelings of body
inadequacy is a debilitating liability children sometimes pick up on, with
devastating and far-reaching consequences.

This wannabe fad can be caught before it becomes a trend. All it takes is a
 healthy dose of self-esteem, accepting what we look like, discerning that
our personalities are not shaped by our appearance, playing to our strengths.
 It's not easy but then, nothing that is worthwhile in life is easy.


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