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Published in Instep, The News on Feb 1

I’m 35 years old and every time I look into the mirror I feel that a slight lift of the eyebrows would make my forehead look so regal…I close my eyes and think of Rekha and her winged brows. Then I pull the skin on my face back and think of the wonderful fillers that could erase the gentle laugh lines appearing around my mouth to get that smooth flawless look. At that point I think of Elizabeth Taylor, who I admit isn’t the best person to fantasize looking like anymore. Okay, okay…all you people who know me know I need much, much more than little nips and my makeover begins with a gastric sleeve to get rid of the extra pounds that I have piled on over the years. A filled out and complete file sits in my cupboard, approved by the best surgeon in Karachi, awaiting a date to be filled in. I told him I’d lose weight naturally but he gave me the file anyway, knowing I’d come to my senses sooner or later. Everything is about the perfection of details these days. I went to my dermatologist the other day and asked him what he could do to make my skin look better. He said he could write a book on what all I need! Surgery has made life so much simpler, right?

It’s as easy as ‘ABC’, though that sends the memory jogging back to Michael Jackson and he’s not the best person to hold as an example! I’d say the best people to look for inspiration are Nabila and Maheen Khan, two women who look astounding for their age and have been open advocates of fixing what you’re unhappy with when it comes to looks.

It really is simple because cosmetic surgery has become the next painkiller. It’s the answer to everything we hated about our looks and didn’t know how to fix. Twenty years ago our grannies used to pop a Panadol for a headache. Today, we are just at ease with popping fillers into our faces to retain our youth. Imagine how granny would have looked if she had taken the youth potion? No more red lipstick bleeding into the wrinkles around her mouth. It’s nothing a shot of Botox wouldn’t have fixed. It is a pain, you know, not being able to fix a wrinkly face, crooked nose or a sagging neck. It’s even painful seeing sagging women with their loose turkey necks refusing to fix the issue but insisting on wearing their diamond necklaces around it.

And if you think that these cosmetic quick fixes are things of the west (or the narcissistic fashion industry) then think again. Today more women in Pakistan are spending time and money on getting their bodies sculpted, undesirable hair permanently removed by lasers or in retaining their youth artificially. My dermatologist confirms that more and more women are coming from rural areas, where there is money but no technology. And so what if you can’t guess a woman’s age anymore? You aren’t supposed to be asking anyway! And so what if today’s thing of beauty (one whose joy lasts longer, if not forever) usually comes with a nip and tuck? Wonder what Keats would have said to that!

So what all are women (and men) up to, you might be thinking? There are the radical surgeries that chop up or tie up your stomach, minimizing the portions of food you can eat (as with the gastric sleeve or band). You didn’t think Adnan Sami Khan did it by will power, did you? There are procedures that literally remove fat from any part of the body (liposuction) – almost all models in the fashion world have done this – and then there is reshaping, as in taking fat out of one place (like your bottom) and putting it in your face to make you look youthful. No one wants to admit doing that though you must have read about the former Miss Argentina, who recently died getting a bottom lift. Not many people know Solange Magnano’s name but everyone knows she died getting buttock enhancement. It’s certainly not something you’d want to be remembered by! No one wants to be the butt of the joke, pun intended!

These procedures will cost you anything between two to four hundred thousand rupees (in Karachi) and if you decide to save pennies and go to an unqualified doctor, they will cost you much, much more. Possibly even your life. The point is that there is no longer a problem that cannot be fixed. Botox (or cosmetic surgery) is the new face of beauty and in a few year’s time our eyes will be so tuned to seeing airbrushed faces and features outside of magazines that all of us who wish to age gracefully and naturally will be visual outcasts.

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