I am at the age where there is a lot going on with women’s bodies. I think after our teenage years, where hips and breasts begin to appear, our 40s are the next time in our lives where we have little control of the way we look.
Little dimples of cellulite appear even if our thighs are slim. Spider veins show up uninvitedly, as does a jowl, and something we rudely call ‘the bye-bye arms’ (triceps that wave each time we do).
All this is very well and well expected.
But I have discovered that I am also at the age when four out of five women I meet have plumped their faces like unintended pumpkins. Their skin is shiny and taut like a stretched balloon, but there is a chubbiness that did not exist last week or last month.
It breaks my heart to see one of the most beautiful women in the city—lithe, intelligent and always chicly turned out—who has lost her cheekbones to the newfound fat in her cheeks. She looked unusual, I thought. Until she smiled, then she looked frightful. I really like her and I wanted to ask her why she had done this to her otherwise beautiful face, but I was not sure if it was good manners to comment or not. Fillers unfortunately do not come with an etiquette guide, so if you have any suggestions, drop me an email.
Botox has been in India for almost 20 years, and has been easily available for over a decade. Botulinum toxin, or botox, is actually a medical treatment used to cure squinting and excessive blinking. It is now used to freeze wrinkles, crow’s feet, and frown lines by paralysing the underlying muscle for anywhere between three to six months.
Botox is often followed by dermal fillers that add volume and definition, aka plumpness. There are several types of fillers available, all of which are approved. The well-known ones are calcium hydroxylapatite, hyaluronic acid, polyalkylimide, polylactic acid, and a semi-permanent filler called PMMA. A couple of these are available in India and are rather popular, but several people also get their facial work done abroad, like in the US or Lebanon.
The problem with fillers is already evident. Filler migration is a truth that several cosmetic surgeons have kept away from their growing filler-hungry clients. It is a condition when the acid filler used in a particular area moves away from the intended area. This creates an unnatural distortion in the face. This is also why a leading lady, a Bollywood movie star, is beginning to resemble a Picasso painting.
There are currently almost 24 million views for the #fillermigration hashtag on TikTok, according to Allure magazine. A recent article alludes to Shelby Hall—a registered nurse who goes by @skinfidelity on TikTok, where she discusses beauty myths and misnomers. Hall has spoken about over-filled lips in a now-deleted video that received nine million views. There are hundreds of videos showing how ridiculous filler migration makes one look. But despite the raging trend, fillers are still a sought-after beauty treatment in India. (In the US, people are having their fillers removed after discovering that not only does the acid migrate, but it also does not dissolve for up to a couple of years.)
I would like to say I don’t judge people who get work done, but I do. I am not against it, mind you. I know I would like a few things fixed, too. But bad filler jobs or gnarled faces are worse than wearing dowdy clothes. You can change into a more classical outfit, but you are stuck with the Picasso face for a year or more.