The Grotesque Side Of Beauty Industry

A novel that unmasks the ugly truth of the beauty industry and people’s obsession with various skin creams to look young and beautiful forever

Forget the phrase, “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.” In the beauty industry the catchline is “Beauty lies skin deep.” But after reading author E.K. Sathue’s nail-biting Youthjuice, you will think twice before applying your favourite skin moisture, anti-wrinkle cream, or scar removal gel on your skin. In her debut novel, Sathue takes the readers amidst the posh and shiny interiors of HEBE, a beauty and wellness firm, where high fashion, haute bodies and “forever” youthful and radiant skin is a part and parcel of life.

Many women, young and old would give an ounce of flesh to look like the Hebe poster girls, including the firm’s young interns, who quickly get used to the hoity-toity Hebe lifestyle. Sophia Bannion, a new employee in her early 30s is no exception. A few months into the job and after streamlining herself in the daily schedule at the skincare giant, Sophia too becomes used to the privileges, freebies, and coveted HEBE lifestyle like the other girls.

However, deep down Sophia feels something is amiss. Many of the HEBE’s interns leave the company without any notice period or trace. Sophia is baffled by their sudden

disappearances but she holds on to the job as there are bills to be paid. In addition, she has her own problems of the past. The more she dives into the nuances of the beauty industry, the more she learns about the ugly secrets hidden behind HEBE’s beautifully doctored images and dodgy products.

She is smitten by Tree Whitestone, HEBE's ravishing and charismatic founder-CEO. So when Whitehosue personally asks Sophia if she would like to try their latest miraculous cream, Youthjuice, Sophia is on Cloud 9. Without batting an eyelid, she instantly says, “YES” and becomes a human dummy for the elixir cream.

Overnight, Sophia’s wrinkles, crow-feet near her eyes, lines and scars vanish. She is delighted to see her youthful and glowing skin. She becomes obsessed with the fatty moisturizer and her looks. Despite knowing about the deadly ingredients that have gone into the cream, Sophia is obsessed with the idea of eternally youthful skin and beauty. She turns a blind eye to HEBE’s malpractices and false claims on their skin products. Sophia ends up being trapped in HEBE’s vicious cycle. The author deftly touches upon the hidden horrors of the beauty industry. The cut-throat competition, peer pressure, constant backstabbing, substance abuse, depression, and suicide get under your skin as you read through the pages. As Sophia gets lost in her own battles, you realise that no amount of forever youthful cream can erase the mental and emotional scars.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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