Age of the wrinkle-free man

More men are being lured by products from the fountain of youth

By Sushmita Bose (FREEWHEELING)

Published: Sun 26 Apr 2015, 12:41 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 11:17 PM

I got a mail the other day from someone trying to suggest a story idea on Brotox. That’s the male equivalent of Botox. After bromance, Brotox, apparently, is the next big thing in the new-age male sector. More and more men want to look younger; they want wrinkle-free, taut faces — in order to be taken seriously professionally and to be a hit with the fairer sex. I found this slightly odd because, traditionally, men have always been taken seriously when they had salt and pepper in their hair (and not because of premature graying). Ageing (gracefully), I had assumed, is directly proportionate to wisdom and experience, which are both assets in the professional space. At a ‘personal’ level, I have known women who consider spiky-haired young men to be boys who haven’t grown up, and would take a more ‘mature’ version of the species any day of the week. So, it saddened me that maybe it’s time to say goodbye to that appealing image of the George Clooney prototype.

Brotox and men wanting to look younger also got me thinking about ageing per se. One of my favourite chapters in my school textbook Legends of Greece and Rome was the story of Tithonus, a mortal man who was the lover of Aurora, the goddess of dawn. Because Aurora (being immortal) wanted to keep Tithonus alive forever, she begged (and convinced) Zeus, the king of gods, to grant her the wish of her lover’s immortality. But she forgot to ask for his eternal youth. Consequently, Tithonus suffered body decay as he aged over centuries, and all he wanted was to die, in order to be put out of his misery — but couldn’t since he was ‘immortal’ (Tithonus’s exacerbating agony was captured marvellously in Lord Tennyson’s eponymous poem).

As I was looking for some pointers on the psychology of the loss of youth, I came across some interesting figures. In a survey conducted — among women — in the United Kingdom (reported by The Daily Mail), 41 per cent wished they looked younger (I was actually surprised to see that; I somehow believe that figure would be higher, at least in this part of the world). About 20 per cent worry about their age every day (wow!). The age when women are most worried “about how old they look” is 39.5 (I’m pretty sure, pre-third millennium, the magic number would have been 29.5). Over 55s are least worried about how old they look. And, in a reverse flip, about a quarter of under-24s feel they look older than they are actually are.

Eternal youth coupled with immortality would obviously be an ideal scenario for dream catchers; unfortunately, that was a prerogative exercised only by those who featured in the legends of Greece and Rome (and a rare prerogative at that, considering the amount of time/resources one had to spend in order to please the whimsical gods). But in real life, if (suddenly) it ever were a toss-up between life-long youth and immortality, it’ll perhaps be a thumping victory for the former. Youth. A transience that’s supposed to embody “the freshness of the deep springs of life”.

The selling point of stuff like Botox (or Brotox) and anti-ageing products is a hint of promise for the extension of this transience. Women have, for long, fretted about ‘losing youth’; men have been far more deadpan… but it was just going to be a matter of time before they too fell in line at the counter of youth-sell.


Sushmita Bose is Khaleej Times’ features editor and editor of wknd. magazine

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