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Shed Vanity And Get Fit

10/12/2014 8:25 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST
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People jog along King's Way boulevard in front of the Presidential Residence in New Delhi, India, on Saturday, March 8, 2014. India will start voting next month to determine if Prime Minister Manmohan Singhs ruling party can fight off a resurgent opposition and extend its decade-long rule of the worlds most-populous democracy. Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg via Getty Images

We all have vanity to some degree or the other, but what really fascinates me is how far some of us are willing to go to achieve their ideal of beauty. One of the perks of my work is being privy to that information. I am talking about everything to little nips and tucks, Botox shots, fillers, any number of various lasers, radio frequency treatments, hair transplants, hair removal, and everything from nose and breast surgeries to liposuctions. This also includes any number of suspicious-sounding slimming treatments, and covers the majority of people who exercise religiously. I don't think I know one single person who hasn't reached out for a little help from any of the above in order to look better.

I am going to sound extremely boring and repetitive, but we do live in a very visual world where we get to be judged based on our appearances. Just go through any daily newspaper (supplements) or any number of glossy magazines, and look at the content: it is praising, discussing or commenting on the way various stars look like, from six, eight, to god knows how many packs men in Bollywood these days are chasing, to how fit (read slim) or fat various actresses have become to having a full blown discussion on what is the perfect size of a woman's body (curiously enough we don't hear that about the male body, in India at least). So it is not surprising that we want to look closer to the stars we admire which does include a perfectly proportionate and, ideally, not ageing face and body. Now, I don't have a problem with anybody wanting to look better. Being fit and bulky to downright fat, then slim but unhealthy to finally fit and slim at the same time with added age (present self), I know the difference and can absolutely relate to that. I also don't judge people on the methods they employ, for as long as that is what it takes for them to feel happier, more satisfied and confident as people, and if that is just one aspect of their quest to better themselves which would also include taking care of their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs -- Eat, Pray, Love! However, unfortunately for many, it is the physical aspect where it begins and ends. Cosmetic procedures are used as the first and only choice for looking better, shots rather than healthy habits, liposuction instead of moderate eating, exercising only if it can guarantee the slimming effect, and not caring about its health benefits per se.

I have never been known to have a poker face, if I am happy it shows, if I am stressed it shows, and unfortunately if I am annoyed or dumbfounded it definitely shows! Luckily for me, being a Slav carries certain reputation of rudeness, which carried me through first few times (who am I kidding it still carries me through) I reacted not so appropriately to my clients' reasoning and motivations. While I can be sympathetic and understanding to a woman who after years of exercising finally took it seriously only after meeting a man she wanted to take her clothes off for had realised that her 40+ years old body is no longer taut and young. So she used this as motivation to get her eating, fitness, and sleeping under control (along with few cosmetic procedures) and achieved quite envious results in a short period of time. I found it hard to digest to see her giving up all she had achieved just because her love interest changed. My advice to her was to find another lover as soon as possible. The other extreme are women who compete with their daughters. These are the kinds who want to be 'mistaken' for their daughter's sisters, who will dress inappropriately young, and who will go and ask you to suggest what all they need to do to look like their daughters. Ladies, they are still looking for the Fountain of Youth! Unfortunately, the reality is that the second type don't shy away from any extent they need to go in their pursuit of their 'results' and they are less likely to quit anytime soon.

Enough about women, but what about men? My favourite kind apart of course from the 'next big thing in Bollywood kind of guy', are men in their 40's who have just realised they were chasing their professional ambitions for the last 20 years, and in their own minds they looked a certain way, and one fine day they had an epiphany about how they actually look. Then the panic sets in, and they want to undo the damage of 20 years in a month, so off they go to for few wrinkle-erasing procedures and hit the gym with the vengeance, just the way they did it 20 years ago. No wonder these kinds of men are more likely to suffer a heart attack on the treadmill. Time is relative, but not to that extent. So as I said before, after years of practice, by now I even manage to look sufficiently cool when people express their motivations, but one thing I still haven't learnt how to get over all those men and women with terrible pains and aches in their bodies, poor posture and with bulging and prolapsed discs, sciatic pain, stiff neck who come to me hobbling and wincing, and when asked what it is that they want to achieve? Losing fat and slimming down comes before or right after having a pain free body. Are you Serious? Really? I mean, Are you serious?

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