Aishwarya's weight watchers: 3 reasons why fat shaming is for losers!

Aishwarya Rai can never get it right. Too perfect, too plastic, too fake, and now, alas, too fat. Here are three reasons why her critics — and her supporters! — are entirely wrong.

Lakshmi Chaudhry May 04, 2012 15:43:56 IST
Aishwarya's weight watchers: 3 reasons why fat shaming is for losers!

Aishwarya Rai can never get it right. Too perfect, too plastic, too fake, and now, alas, too fat. Ohmigod, look at the "chubby cheeks" on that aunty!

Clearly, Ash didn't get the memo laying down the ground rules for a celebrity pregnancy.

Step one, look like a stick insect with a perfect baby bump for nine months. Step two, squeeze out spawn, and head straight for the gym and/or operating theatre. And step three, step out on the red carpet looking radiantly under-nourished within a month of delivery a la Angelina Jolie, Posh Spice, Beyonce et al. QED

And yet, here she is, shoving that nasty double chin in everyone's face – a full five months after giving birth! Doesn't "the most beautiful woman in the world" know that her exquisite self is our nation's claim to international fame? How dare she treat our national treasure with such cavalier disregard!

It's her goddamn job!

Aishwarya Rai-Bachhan is a movie star, and it's right there in the contract: must look perfect at all times. As one commenter put it, "She is a Bollywood actress and being a part of showbiz, it is her duty to look good and fit. Till now she has been praised for her beauty, so it is only fair that she should also be criticised if she is not able to live up to it."

Aishwaryas weight watchers 3 reasons why fat shaming is for losers

Image from CNN IBN

But how about this: maybe, as columnist Shefalee Vasudev pointed out on an NDTV panel, Ash is "on leave from her professional life." Oh, right, maternity leave, a break from the pressures of work that is the legal right of all mothers. If looking perfect is her professional duty, then surely even an actress gets to take some time off.

Not so fast, rebuts Hindustan Times editor Kanika Gahlaut. There is no such privilege for women like Ash who've made a career looking fabulous. "Aishwarya has always passed herself in the Posh Spice mold. Always looking perfect, never a hair out of place," she declared on NDTV, "If people then say, 'hey what happened Ms Perfect,' I don't think she should be complaining."

If you want a pregnancy pass, according to Ms Gahlaut, you better have gained fame looking au natural, a la Kate Winslet or Kajol. Glam dolls don't get to be human: "That a fake person is now being real is the problem." She also helpfully adds that everyone would be mad at Winslet if she now decided to lose weight.

Ah, now I get it. All movie actresses need to pick their little stereotypical box and stay in it all their life, be it beauty queen or earth goddess. God forbid, if their bodies change over a lifetime (kinda like ours) – either due to biology or conscious will – they should prepare to face our wrath.

Now that's what we call keeping it real!

It's downright unhealthy

"Ash is not at an healthy weight at the moment. This woman needs to stop promoting unhealthy weight gain/obesity. I'm sure Ash intends to lose this weight gain/fat too — because its unhealthy! Have you seen how big she is?" writes one Pinkvilla commenter, offering the other typical reason for celebrity fat-shaming: it's really about staying healthy!

Few in India have publicly made this pitch – perhaps because we don't need a suitably worthy excuse for being shallow – but among the upper classes, pregnant women are already dieting and exercising their way through pregnancy in the name of "good health". As an acquaintance trying for a baby declared, "I don't want get huge like Aishwarya. It's so bad for you!"

Ah, that old obesity excuse, usually trotted out by people who are in no danger of being remotely fat.

Of course, the media obsession with unnaturally skinny pregnant women is no less unhealthy – and not just in the cultural sense. They even have a name for it in the West: pregorexia. Eating disorder specialists warn that far too many women now feel the pressure to not gain too much weight during pregnancy, and lose it right after. The typical result of weight gain neuroses: slow fetal growth, underweight babies, more c-sections and miscarriages, and very little breast milk. (I wonder how many of the Ash-haters wish their mother starved herself through pregnancy?)

So how about this radical idea: A happily fat Aishwarya is actually doing a public health service for fashionistas neurotic about their weight – and their future spawn who will surely thank her for it.

The "give her time" brigade

Ok, so she's too goddamn fat, say her most prominent supporters, but she just needs more time to lose that nasty chub. Designer Rocky S, for one is irate: "Why people are obsessed with Aishwarya's weight... She should not be pressurised and she doesn't have to look perfect at this moment."

But it's Shaina NC who really spells out the subtext of this so-called 'Aishwarya defence'. "Even if you're [as in Ash] not looking your best, you're out [in front of the cameras]. And you'll be back in shape," she claimed on NDTV, adding, "One year down the line, if you want to have a debate whether she looks the way she used to, then that's fine."

Hear that, Ash? One year is all you get. If you ain't stick-thin by then, even your "defenders" will jump ship.

Some have even accused the paparazzi of making Aishwarya fatter than she is: "I think the media is being very harsh on her. They are deliberately printing those photos which are taken at an angle which makes her look fat or highlights her double chin,"

In other words, no one is foolish enough to argue that Ash baby may (gasp1) look good exactly the way she is. I mean, she looks more absurdly, radiantly happy than ever before. And according to media reports, she just loves being a mom. But hey, that's no good as long as you look ugly – according to some celestial standard of beauty. Never mind that she is still more beautiful than most of us lesser mortals.

How about this for a real Aishwarya defence: She's enjoying her life and her new baby, and doesn't give a damn about what the rest of us think of her or her body. And that's good reason for all women – pregnant or not – to celebrate.


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