Botox, surgical revamping and the elixir of youth

I am 47 years old; my face muscles are sagging and my hair is grey, but I want it all to show.

Mariam Ashraf December 14, 2011

Sequined, satined, bejeweled, and heavily perfumed, a female form came hurtling in my direction.

“Oh Mariam, what a surprise! Where have you been all these years? Good to see you!”

It was a classmate from medical college who had been in the United States for many years. She had recently relocated  so that her children could be eased into Pakistani culture and make the transition from west to east.

“You look great. What have you done? " I asked enthusiastically.

“Nothing major really, just surgery around the eyes, collagen fillers around the mouth, and laser resurfacing on the skin. You know it’s a constant effort because all these procedures, apart from surgery, have to be redone every six to 12 months,” she replied with feigned nonchalance.

We met incidentally at a popular restaurant, choc-a-bloc full of people hankering  for hi-tea. My friend looked well preserved and a little tight around the eyes and mouth. Female nastiness aside, she looked good and much younger than me and in better shape too - definitely easy on the eyes.

I am 47 years old. Not an eyesore but I look all of my 47 years. My face has wrinkles, not too obvious around the lips, under the eyes, some horizontal lines on my forehead. I fall into the “why don’t I do something to fix my face” trap every now and then. Every woman has the right to look good and feel good. What keeps me from taking the leap is a crazy unsubstantiated notion that I won’t look like me anymore.

My 47 years of life have been a mixed bag of changing fortunes. Like all people, I have had my share of happiness and despair, renewal and loss of relationships, financial worries and social acceptance anxieties, self-worth complexes and existential crises, and so on. All put together these experiences and these mistakes have made a composite of what I am today. I am safe in my skin knowing that whatever I did was the best that I could do, content and thankful for what I have in terms of a family, profession, friends, faith in a higher being, and the unshakeable belief that all good deeds are rewarded.

My face muscles may have started to sag, the contours not so chiseled anymore, the jaw line more rounded than acute, but I want that rounding off of angles and a certain softness of expression. Letting go of the past, learning to be kind unconditionally, letting bygones be bygones - I want all this to show on my face. I have earned each of these 47 years. I can’t just have them erased with a nip or a needle.

The same goes for the grey in my hair. My daughter feels I should get lowlights or highlights to mask the grey and she’s right, it might look better. However, each strand of grey has made me aware of the immortality that is fast approaching and why I should live in the now and savour the years that I have left. Colouring them would mean retrogression, denial and a yearning for the past which was great while it lasted, but is now gone.

Celebrate your grey hair and the softening contours of your face; you’ve earned it. The next time you see a cumbersome female form working a crater in the floor over which lies the treadmill machine, with her determined heavy footedness, remember: is she doing it for good health or reversal of fortune?
Mariam Ashraf A doctor who works in a postgraduate medical institute where doctors come for postgraduate training. Mariam is a teacher, a housewife and a mother who desires the Pakistan that Jinnah dreamed of.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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