What Beauty Is At 27
Skin Deep is a five-part series in which The Swaddle explores how women’s self-image, ideas about and efforts toward beauty change with age. Each month we will feature the responses of a woman from a different decade of life, starting with Aneesha Shah, the Mumbai-based 27-year-old make-up artist behind the beauty blog Blend By Neesh.
THE SWADDLE: Are you beautiful?
Aneesha Shah: Yes. I like to think so!
THE SWADDLE: Do you look your age?
AS: No. I look younger I think (and I’ve been told). Sometimes it’s annoying when someone dismisses me thinking I’m a ‘child’ or just doesn’t give me the credit I deserve because I look younger. But sometimes I’m grateful for it, especially when I think about getting old and aging, and I like to tell myself that I will always look like I’m in my 20s — delusional!
THE SWADDLE: What’s your favorite aspect of your physical appearance? Why?
AS: Can’t choose between my hair and my eyes. My hair has always been something I’ve played around with — in terms of length and colour, and it always makes me feel good when I’m having a good hair day. My eyes because I think they are quite expressive — happily complimenting myself here! (Laughs) Oh, and also my collarbones.
THE SWADDLE: How much time per week do you spend on grooming and/or cosmetic/appearance?
AS: I don’t know in terms of hours, but definitely more than average. I don’t go to parlours or salons or spas, etc., for anything. I DIY everything at home, so I tend to spend a lot of time taking care of myself — and I enjoy it too. That’s my version of ‘me-time.’
THE SWADDLE: How do you feel if you don’t get to devote that time as usual?
AS: Initially, I can ignore it and it won’t bother me — but it will be a bit of a nagging thing in my mind. Like, I’ll constantly remember that I need to shave still, or that my eyebrows need threading, etc. So eventually, if it’s been long enough … I’m quite capable of cancelling a plan and sitting home and giving myself an oil maalish and hair wash instead. (Laughs)
THE SWADDLE: Is part of your beauty routine inherited from a woman/en in your family? If yes, who and how has she influenced you?
AS: Nope. The other women in my family aren’t as committed to a beauty routine as I am. I developed a love for it on my own some years ago. I tried getting them to put on face masks with me every now and then just for fun — but they’re usually too impatient!
THE SWADDLE: Was there a time in your life that you felt most beautiful? Or is it now?
AS: I think one of the biggest factors in making me feel beautiful is my physical fitness level. I take my fitness very seriously and when I am unable to give the time and commitment to that — in terms of working out, eating right, etc — then it starts bothering me. So, when I was at my strongest, physically, was when I felt most beautiful! Is that weird? Over the last six to seven months I have had to prioritise a bunch of other things over my fitness, and I can see the changes in my body as well as my mind, in terms of discipline in my life, and that really bothers me and makes me feel less beautiful, I guess.
THE SWADDLE: Outside of your appearance (clothes and make-up) what has the greatest influence on how you feel about your beauty?
AS: I think my environment. In terms of people I’m surrounded by and also the actual physical location. Like, when I’m in the Andamans, I do absolutely nothing for my beauty routine, and I love it. Like, I’ll think I look beautiful even with dirty sandy hair and an ugly tan, even though I probably look like crap! (Laughs.) And if I’m with my friends — especially my girlfriends — I’m constantly laughing. I think that makes a difference, too.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. As told to Liesl Goecker.