The allure of eternal youth

“Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale / Her infinite variety,” the famous lines from William Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra that describes the legendary beauty of Cleopatra.

Many of us may not have read the play but we are familiar with these lines. Is it the enigma of Cleopatra, is it the idea of ‘ageless beauty’, what is it about these lines that resonate with us? My guess would be ‘ageless beauty’ that appeals to our secret desire to be forever young and beautiful. For who doesn’t want to look like a twenty-year-old even in their sixties. Impossible it may be, but we, desperate optimists, don’t give up hoping and trying. Thanks to our relentless optimism and strong urge to tap the fountain of eternal youth, industries and businesses have flourished that claim to hold the key to eternal youth.

First, there are battery of plastic surgeons with ‘magic’ solutions like Botox and liposuctions, nose jobs, lip jobs and what not. We have seen many disastrous results, but that doesn’t deter us from trying. Three times Oscar nominee Renée Zellweger went into self-imposed exile after a supposed plastic surgery that didn’t quite go her way. We have several instances in Bollywood, from Anushka to Sridevi, where their attempts to add to their beauty through plastic surgery backfired. But who cares, we won’t to give up trying. Unrealistic says logic, possible says vanity, and we would do just about anything to look younger and prettier.

Then, there are less painful options offered by several beauty clinics and parlours. From VLCC to Shahnaz Husain to our neighbourhood beauty parlour, the mantra is eternal youth. Their facials and beauty treatments stop the process of aging, or better still reverses aging. For those who can’t make time for parlous there is a whole array of anti-aging products available – from creams to lotions to face packs.

And in case you didn’t know, there are so many secret homemade recipes to eternal youth. Fenugreek paste seed can grow hair overnight, while a paste of baking soda in coconut oil can make you look 10 years younger. A combination of milk, green tea and rice powder can give a 50-year-old the flawless complexion of a 20-year-old. I was amazed when the idea board of my recently created Pinterest account popped up such simple secrets to eternal youth. I immediately rushed to kitchen and mixed baking soda and coconut oil and applied it generously on my face. My skin looked cleaner and I felt younger for the rest of the day. But then how many 50 somethings have I come across who look like a twenty something? None that I could think of.

On the contrary, I have come across so many beautiful and graceful people in their fifties and sixties. My mother is probably one of most gorgeous women in her sixties. Yesteryear divas like Waheeda Rahman and Sharmila Tagore still captivate us with their beauty and elegance. I feel fabulous in my forties and so does so many of my friends. The very talented Meryl Strip sizzles in her sixties and age is just a number for the likes of Pierce Brosnan and Richard Gere. Our very own Khans, who are still trying to play thirties, should take a leaf or two from the book of George Clooney, considered to be one of the sexiest men even in his fifties.

Queen of Egypt Cleopatra, who ruled in the first century BC, was one of the most famous and intelligent female rulers of her time. When Shakespeare talks about her ageless beauty he is probably referring to her whole persona, not just physical attributes.

In our quest for eternal youth we often ignore the most apparent fact – the secret to ageless beauty is about accepting the process of aging. Once you have come to terms with that, age is just a number!

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