There used to be a time where there were few women, mostly Bollywood ladies, who had perfect bodies to flaunt. Bipasha Basu was seen sweating her gut in almost all Reebok advertisements with a toned body and Priyanka Chopra flaunted hers in the skimpiest swimwear in quite some movies. Kareena Kapoor’s crash diet almost crashed her healthy figure to an infamous size-zero look which made her beyond recognition. Her inspiration was Victoria Beckham. Ahem!
What happened next was not a shocking surprise. Almost all young women in their 20s were seen hitting the nearest gym and consulting dieticians, in order to get closer to their beauty ideals. Even men pursued women who were slim or rather skinny. Since then our society has stereotyped women and their bodies, urging them to be in shape. Well for what? – to suit the needs and imagination of men in the country.
Start the blame game and all fingers could be seen pointing the media. It is commonly believed that numerous advertisements and movies that showcase men and women with flawlessly toned bodies have sowed such seeds of stereotypes into the minds of the people who succumbed to the public judgement of their bodies. Males – the primary target audience of the media later tends to combine hyper masculine attributes to sexual conquest as result. In other words, the flawless female imagery promulgates that female sexuality is passive. Nothing could change this awkward and selfish body politics unless proper sex and sexuality education is imparted more within our society.
Try a random search in Google for ‘bikini models’ or ‘luxury lingerie’. Till the very last scroll you get to see beautiful models with the same slim fit body type. Is viewing a voluptuous woman in a bikini an unpleasant thing to watch? If so why? Why can’t we get to see women in these internet pictures who are more like us? Why can’t we see women in clothes that fit us? What is the point of showing us clothes that could apparently fit a Malaika Arora Khan but not us?
Apparently the front row Bollywood ladies are changing. We have a new cult of ladies like Vidya Balan, Sonakshi Sinha, Huma Qureshi and few more who have not only proved their mettle on the silver screen but are also fighting body stereotypes at the front lines. They chose to write their own rules and let their talent do the talking. The emergence of such actors has brought a wave of relief to those Indian women who are starving and drowning in their sweat just to burn out calories. They finally got ambassadors to speak and advocate for them by showing that to be voluptuous is good and beautiful too. But the impact hasn’t been strong enough and sadly the bullying continues.
Besides demanding a cultural shift from the patriarchal values of our society women should imbibe one thing to their hearts. It is the not body that makes one beautiful but ones belief that one is beautiful in the present form. Coming to the physical aspect of the female body the important fact is to keep it healthy and strong. After all we live in an age where body-image issues have led to higher stress levels, depression and even growing suicide rates among young women across the world. Thus self confidence and a chin up attitude is what bring out the real beauty in a woman – the kind of beauty that would attract right minded men.
Remember. You don’t owe perfection to anybody. It’s your body, your rules.