Feisty@Fifty by Sudha Menon #4: Mujhko bhi toh lift kara de, thodi si toh lift kara de

“It is all about being beautiful on the inside. If you are beautiful inside, then you look beautiful outside.” I remember a particularly obnoxious 18-something, stick-insect in a bikini spouting this rather weighty life lesson while standing with her bony hip thrust out, pouting at the judges at a beauty contest.

But what if your inside is as droopy as your morale at fifty?  There is something about that figure (pun intended) that sets off a silent alarm amongst the bravest women. It is the end of perky and the beginning of a free fall. Literally.

The other day I went out with a friend to one of those frighteningly glamorous festive season exhibitions.  My friend did not know it then but my jaws were secretly set in determination; this time I was not going to chicken out and return home emptyhanded. I would buy myself an outfit that would transform me from a saree-wearing aunty to a middle-aged babe in seconds.

I had barely entered the exhibition hall and there it was, making eyes at me, a gorgeous mid-night blue maxi with stunning red panels and three-quarter sleeves, hallelujah. I don’t know what the fashion industry has against sleeves but they should know that there are thousands of us in our fifties who have cash burning in our wallets but also have arms that resemble cow’s udders.  We won’t wear sleeveless outfits if we are dying. Can the fashion peeps simply please stop making clothes meant  for the twiggy kinds who are perfect cloth hangers but have no money to buy them?

I got the midnight blue wonder home and boy, did it rock the show. The problem, however, rose (ahem) as soon as I noticed a certain droop in the upper region. When you are nearing the fifties the twin assets stop being perky and threaten to hit your knees. My stubborn jelly belly added to the trouble. Can’t blame it though; it is carrying the weight of my two lovelies that have headed south these last few months. I sent a selfie in my blue dress to a trusted friend who hit the fifty last year and before I knew it, I was in the lingerie section of a certain foreign brand which promises women all sorts of guilty pleasures and secret armoury to battle the bulge.

And so, for the next two hours at the lingerie shop, I let myself be subject to various forms of torture that began with shedding my beige behenji-type bra and letting the cute things in tight skirts measure me. 36 DD! You could almost picture them fainting in horror but these brandwallahs train their staff to keep their poker face on at all times. “She needs to get herself a life. And some bras,” I can almost hear them talking in their heads.

The other day I saw a woman in a tight red fishtail gown and it was an unmitigated fashion disaster. To begin with her bosom seemed to have defied gravity and ascended up her throat and from the look on her face I suspect it was slowly choking her. Also, there was something definitely wrong with the rest of the body. Where there should have been a woman’s rounded bottom and a nice curvy hip was a barren flatland and believe me, that does not do justice to a fishtail gown. I mean what is a mermaid without the hourglass figure?

Don’t get me wrong and label me judgmental or nasty. I know now why the wearer of that fire engine-coloured gown looked so pained and flattened. From being subject to a mind-bending variety of morale and boob- boosting bras recently, I know she was a wearing one of those “lifting” numbers that promise to lift up the dropping assets but end up squishing them together and lifting them onto your throat. And as for the curious case of the disappearing buttocks, that comes from the scourge in the desperate woman’s armoury: contouring shape wear aka corsets. This particular torture wear made of God-alone-knows-what lifts up your backside, and compacts it, attempting a brave coup on cellulite and ageing.  In real life what it does is redistribute the fat and cellulite to other unsuspecting body parts. The next time you see an otherwise smartly-dressed woman with what seems like a jiggling tyre under her breasts, do know that she is wearing cellulite compressing hip corset shape wear. Thrown out from their rightful home on her hips, the poor cellulite has wandered upwards and found refuge under her breasts….

As for me, I left the lingerie shop with what I think is the ultimate solution to my drooping everything. A full body corset. I can’t breathe much anymore and my face is taking on the colour of the blue dress from slowly being suffocated but when I slither into a party with my newly acquired svelte self, the look on a lot of people’s faces more than makes up for slow asphyxiation. Plus, I have recently been getting unprecedented attention from the significant other, especially after goodlooking men at parties throw me unabashedly admiring glances. As they say, no pain, no gain!

Sudha Menon

Sudha Menon

Sudha Menon is an Author, a Writing Coach and a Speaker on Gender and Diversity.

You can reach her on sudhamenon2006@gmail.com or her twitter handle@sudhamenon2006
Sudha Menon