Pain in the Pursuit of Beauty

Sunday 28th August   

I have never understood those who suffer pain in the pursuit of beauty.  Actually I don’t really understand the seeming infatuation of the young (or some of those old enough to know better) with the concept of bodily perfection in the first place.  It is all part of the celebrity obsessed culture we appear to be living in; the worship of the few, who are chosen more often, not for what they have achieved, but for who they are openly acknowledged to be sleeping with; the triumph of the pointless over the meaningful.  Such is the world we live in.  For all the faults of us, children of the fifties and sixties, we were at least a generation of thinkers, creators of ideas and ideals; we genuinely wanted a better world for all, rather than just our own fifteen nano-seconds of fame.

Whilst waiting at a station buffet for a train, I have just noticed a girl, who must be, oh, all of nineteen. She has tattoos on almost every available and observable bit of flesh, (and one assumes the bits we cannot see also) her arms, ankles, shoulders and legs are covered, and she has that one in the slight dip just above the waist at the back, which seems to be almost obligatory these days.  Her hair is dyed the brightest of reds and she has rings in her nose, ears, eyebrows and upper lip (and probably in places I shudder to think of too). The effect is startling to say the least, and she is certainly noticed by almost everyone; though whether in admiration, amazement or disgust, who is to say.  One does wonder though how she will feel at forty or sixty when the flesh, ample enough already, begins to sag and wrinkle. How will those intertwining snakes up her arms look on fifty-year old bingo wings? Will the flowers on her calves peep from behind her varicose veins at seventy? Will she still have enough stainless steel on her face to make a kitchen sink with? Or will she have suffered even more pain and expense as she undergoes laser treatment to remove the excesses of her youth.

And don’t even get me started on plastic surgery, which, besides being such a waste of surgical talent, is almost always unnecessary and disfigures more than it attempts to correct.  Why can we not just celebrate our gently ageing bodies, with all the wrinkles of age and wisdom there for all to see?

Try this. Stand in front of the mirror. Now, smile – there, not so bad looking after all.