Recently I've been coming across some interesting things around bodies and stereotypes. I have hardly spoken about such things because I have spent my life being the "fat" girl and always thought if I voiced my opinion people would think I'm being too sensitive. Yet I would find myself incensed by the fact that everyone in the universe thought it was okay for them to laugh at me, to crack a joke, to tell me for my "own good" how important it was for me to lose weight. Friends, colleagues, strangers, lovers.
When did I start thinking of myself as fat and ugly I wonder? I know I didn't think it as a kid. Was it in 8th grade when the guy I had a massive crush on rejected me saying I was too fat for him? Was it when my sister's well meaning friend told me while helping me dress up for my birthday that I was so pretty I could be a model if only I lost weight? Or when the ex said I wasn't good enough cos heads didn't turn when I entered a room? Was I fat because I ate too much or did I eat too much because people had told me I'm fat so many times that I had started to believe it at a deep gut level?
I know only that most of my social life was an agonizing debacle of trying to find outfits that hid my fat and made me look good. Of going from pillar to post putting every face pack and night cream I could on my face to get rid of the angry red blotches of acne. Smiling at every fat joke. Some times even cracking some before someone else could hoping that would be less humiliating. Telling every man in my life that I was ashamed of my body, trying to hide it. I remember feeling grateful if they chose to be accepting. Grateful if a man was interested in me. I spent a lifetime undermining everything I have to offer in a relationship and settling for any man who was willing to accept my ugliness.
Movies, television, advertisements, books, all of them only speak of the fat, the ugly, the acne ridden as bumbling idiots or tragic heroes. There are the geeks who turned into beauties or just fumbled upon a good looking partner. There is never a person with a different face/body type who is the main protagonist with no excuses. I saw a movie recently in which an actress tells the hero that she can torment him and take revenge now for what he did to her twelve years ago because "tab main moti aur bechaari thi, ab main sexy aur powerful hoon". Those are the messages sent out to us every second of every day. We don't even realize it. I've had friends talk about their ideal woman and size was always a consideration. When did we as a society get so obsessed with how a person looks? To the point that its become one of the highest causes of depression and eating disorders. Where we have multi-million dollar industries to help us change how we look in every conceivable way.
Every day I see an article helping me define my body shape, pear, apple etc etc. Or one telling me how to get a bikini body. Or what kind of pants I should wear to minimize the debilitating effects of my shortness and wide waistline. And then I saw a line that said How to get a bikini body - Take your body, put a bikini on it. A switch flicked in my head. I was done with the bullshit.
I went on a holiday and I tried my best to wear what I WANTED to wear. Not what I should or what looked better. It was terrifying and liberating. It is time that people get over who's fat, short, dark, ugly. Really. I'm sure you have something better to worry about.
Here's Saif Ali Khan telling us his fascinating take on "ugly" actors. Saif, I'm ready to see a film about real people, however fat or ugly they are!
So, your wife told you that looking beautiful in Bollywood is more important than acting.
That’s a joke. She can afford to say that because she is beautiful and a good actor. Actually, I do think that it is equally important if not more. Because everyone is so fit, It is a visual medium. And I don’t think anyone wants to see a film about an ugly guy who is giving a great performance. We are not so mature as an industry yet. We are still trying to make beautiful films about beautiful people, unless it’s a niche film.