It’s probably the most common phrase being used by women today. Are women obsessed with their figures even if they are perfect?
As 27-year-old Swati opened her cupboard, she felt nervous. Reaching out to a pair of denims that she last wore when she was in high school, she closed her eyes and murmured a prayer. She pulled on the crumpled piece of garment that was tucked in the farthest corner of her wardrobe. It glided over her thighs and sat snug on her hips. The button fastened and zipper pulled up with cinematic ease and Swati let out a cry of achievement. She swirled from side to side to check out her reflection on the mirror. 10 years, a wedding and a child later, she felt she was born again.
The irony of the situation is that Swati was never ‘fat’. She’d always been ‘normal’ throughout her school and college life and even after her wedding. Infact, even while being seven- months pregnant, she never looked that way. Do women, then, obsess too much over their shape?
Mumbai-based fitness instructor, Shyam Rahate, who has trained celebrities like Tusshar Kapoor and Jackky Bhagnani, says that everyday his client list keeps increasing to include women who actually don’t need to bother a great deal about their figure. “From my vantage point, I see a lot of women dissatisfied with their bodies even if they look perfect. All they want to do is ‘lose’ that invisible layer of fat from their abdomens or tighten their already toned thighs. I have seen very few women who are happy being how they are.”
Ananya Gupta, a clinical dietician, says that her female clients are obsessed about ‘losing weight’. “I prescribe ‘healthy’ diets to my patients and not ones that would eventually make them thin. Most clients are unaware that ‘skinny’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘healthy’.
Psychologists feel that women, today, have started equating their bodies with success, power, wealth and the propensity to attract a suitable mate. Says psychologist Richa Nath, “It starts and ends with something called ‘sexual jealousy’. The fact that a better looking woman has the potential to attract a better looking man makes women fiercely competitive among themselves. And today, being fit means being able to slip into a US size 4 dress which means you need to have a 34-inch bust, a 25.5-inch waist and a 36.5-inch butt. What they don’t realize is that Marilyn Monroe, someone who stands as an epitome of beauty and proportions was a size 12!”
The obsession with size had hit Bollywood too recently with Kareena Kapoor’s alleged slimming down to a size zero, which, technically, means, an unlikely 32-inch bust, 21-23-inch waist and a 34-inch hip. We’ve had actors slimming down to half their sizes to play certain characters. We’ve had them putting on weight to fit into certain other characters. Yet, at red-carpet events, they hardly seem to have a fugly moment. Normal women who sub-consciously make stars’ bodies their yard-sticks, are confused with what size is okay for them and what isn’t. They blindly go for crash slimming which often results in health disasters.
The bottom line is that every woman is built in a unique way. Crash slimming may take care of that cocktail dress at one soiree but repeated crash slimmings can prove detrimental to physical and mental health. The likes of Kate Winslet, Padma Lakshmi and Beyonce Knowles have shown that being big and curvacious is sexy. Even the petite Eva Longoria boasts of killer curves. Nearer home, celebrities like Malaika Arora Khan, Gul Panag and Vidya Balan have shown that their ‘hotness’ comes from being comfortable with their shapes. “Would Malaika still grab eyeballs if she loses her bootilicious bottom half? Or imagine Beyonce Knowles looking unfed and malnourished and practically flat-chested,” says Annie, who describes herself as ‘walking hourglass’ with the famous ‘S-curve’ boasted by Sophia Loren in the 50s and 60s.
So as we move into the next decade, here’s hoping to see fewer women promising to go for crash diets and more women celebrating every pound, every kilo and every curve that they have, provided, they measure right on the ‘fitness’ scale.
Appeared in Calcutta Times, The Times of India, January 14, 2011