Chasing Perfection

In an ideal society, we will not need the freedom of extreme choice to change the way we look. There will be no pressure on us to look perfect.


Photo: Suresh K. Pandey
An Endless Quest: The author at a fashion show Photo: Suresh K. Pandey

There used to be a huge sweet shop that sold chole bhature in the mornings and on the days I hated preparing breakfast, I would run there and eat those sumptuous boat-shaped bhaturas, read newspapers that people had left behind on their tables, order endless cups of chai, and look at the men around me. But that sweet shop doesn’t exist anymore. They opened a huge wellness clinic there. Every time I pass by, I see a bunch of trans women, model-look-alike ladies, bald men with bandages around their scalp, and gym-toned men seated behind the humongous see-through glass door. They do something like ‘It’s a kind of magic’ by Queen in that clinic. They have everything there from Botox to butt jobs. They can change everything except your personality. Too bad! But again, if God gave you lemons and you are not happy with those, this clinic can get you melons. So suit yourself.


Everything happens under the guise of “Skin Care Clinic”. There are skin care clinics in every nook and cranny of Delhi and other big cities. They have also spread beyond major city limits.

Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan is a laid-back small town. However, people there have vibrant dreams like this person: she wants to be a model and a TV star. She takes a train to Jaipur twice a week, then a bus and finally an E-rickshaw to get to her well-being clinic, which promises her a facelift, a curvy body, and a pouty bottom. She is chasing her dreams. She believes she can clear any audition after her makeover. I love her confidence. The treatment she is undergoing reduces her body dissatisfaction. It repairs her physical insecurity and of course, would eventually get rid of her stress permanently. She will be happier and more successful. That’s what she says. All the best, Jhelum! That’s her name. She wants to be slim, sexy and to be flowing beautifully like the River Jhelum in Kashmir. And she’s getting there. It’s not hard work but a long waiting game. And boy, I tell you it’s worth waiting! You will be a star, Dreamboat.


The author at a hair salon
The author at a hair salon Photo Courtsey: Pupps Roy

In the midst of all these, I feel pressurised to pursue skin treatment. I see 90 per cent of ladies in Delhi society parties have gone under the knife to beautify themselves to perfection. This raises the question of defining ‘perfection’. My friend Miss X keeps bantering with me, “Take some of my lips, some of my cheeks.” I laugh out loud and my soul cries for some treatments.

I also want to be flawless. There’s so much to do, so many treatments to opt for, and there’s so little money. I am unstoppable and I start taking a treatment or two. I am happy momentarily and then I chase another treatment. These skin doctors make you feel miserable during consultation, ensuring you that you look ugly and imperfect without these treatments. “Doing just a little bit to like me more,” this is how it starts. And then there no end to it. You fall into the trap. One treatment leads to another. “This clinic is better than that one, you must come with me…” Clinics give royalties and heavy discounts to their clients for enrolling more clients with them. I was offered so many freebies for introducing my friends to the doctor.

“Girls in their mid-twenties are getting cosmetic surgery in larger numbers. My friend’s daughter is eleven. She gets recommendations for cosmetics and beauty clinic ads in her online feed.”

Cosmetic surgery and treatments vary geographically. In India it’s more about the face. People mostly do Botox and fillers for younger-looking skin. In Brazil and African countries, they are more into butt jobs and hair, in the US, more people are opting to slim down with cosmetic surgery.

So you are pulled into this world of cosmetic treatment. I don’t remember the last time that I was online, scrolled through my feed, and was not bombarded with numerous skin care ads. Ageing is a natural process. Disguising age was never a cool thing. And even babies have wrinkles when they smile. Didn’t you notice that?  So it’s like an endless addiction like cocaine or any other addictive substance. If you know when to stop it’s good, otherwise it can lead you to a delusional end. I know at least three girls in Delhi who became prostitutes because they couldn’t afford skin care treatment with the money they had.


Earlier plastic surgeries were only opted for by people born with deformities. It was once considered a luxury of the elite and has now become increasingly accessible and affordable to “middle-class” people like us. And the sad part is that it is inflicted on us by their huge social media marketing. For example, look at the Kardashian family. The entire family has gone under the knife. They used to be completely different-looking people before and it bothers me to a great extent that this is being celebrated.

The worst, scary part nowadays is that teenagers or girls in their mid-twenties are getting cosmetic surgery in larger numbers. My friend’s daughter is eleven. She no longer gets recommendations for toys in her online feed. Instead, she gets cosmetics and beauty clinic ads. Do they want to be little women in their looks and behave like kids? Is this the generation that aims to be ageless and brainless?  Or have they been taught that beauty is skin deep? When does this endless quest for perfection end? And when would ‘perfect’ be perfect enough?


I understand everybody has the freedom of choice. We should work towards an ideal society in which we don’t need to have the freedom of extreme choice to change ourselves because we love ourselves, and for obvious reasons, your opinion on my body is never going to be my destiny.

(Views expressed are personal)

(Pupps Roy is an outlier who loves to love)