Why women care so much about their weight and size

When it comes to weight, how many of us believe that ultimately it’s about an individual’s ability to be comfortable in her skin and not use it as a competitive edge in the popularity sweepstake

Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: Social Media)
Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: Social Media)
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Monojit Lahiri

There are plenty of light hearted one-liners which women themselves use to motivate themselves and other women too to lose weight. Usually these one liners are focused on drawing men’s attention.

Behind the light-hearted frivolity and sleigh-of-hand posturing, however, these over-weight women betray a strong sense of apprehension, concern, distress, nervousness, worry and tension. Why?

“Because looking good and feeling great has a lot to do with having a good figure which [quickly translated] means a decent weight mark” says Minoo Sen, a second-year student. Minoo should know. A chubby young girl till a year ago, she was “distressed about the fact that guys found me cute and funny – but nothing beyond that! C’mon yaar, I wanted to be more than a part-time clown?” So she went into gymming, dieting and all of that and now, there’s no dearth of boys for her.

This line of thinking was deployed by Indian Airlines too while selecting Air Hostesses. They were alleged to have dumped a couple of Air Hostesses because they were [even if marginally] off the stipulated statistics/weight mark required.

Not everybody is doing the tango with this philosophy. Fumes a well-known actor-producer, known for her forthright views, “Who the hell decides these weighty issues? Film Production Houses, Directors, Fashion Contest Juries, Producers, Model Co-ordinators, Guys, Parents ... who? Besides, which idiot told you that thin automatically means glam, savvy and cool while fat is sloppy, non-focused, and confused? Just look around and ask yourself one simple question – do models give you the impression of extra BRAINS? Have you spoken to them or heard them on TV with their amazing sound bytes? I rest my case!”

She believes that ultimately it’s about an individual’s ability and confidence to be comfortable in her skin and not use it (dumbly) as a competitive edge in the popularity sweepstake.

If this passionate defence is true, what does one say of the recent (regressive?) Reality Show where money was doled out to winners who lost weight? Replies an amused, pretty, smart, young executive in retort. “All this talk about not caring how fat or over-weight one is and being comfortable in one’s skin by and large is just fake posturing, dramabaazi! Every girl/woman likes to look attractive. It gives them a solid and indefinable sense of self-worth; heightens sky-high their sense of self-esteem.”

The young lady goes to add that in the fat versus thin face-off, the latter will always enjoy a huge edge for starters because “you see first and connect later.” Besides, she animatedly adds “who the hell told you that slim, attractive women have no BRAINS and the fatties are the ones who’ve cornered the cerebral stuff? It’s a myth based on inverted snobbery propagated by the fat frat! Don’t you ever believe it!”

There appears to be some truth in what the young lady says. In terms of social acceptability/popularity, the ones with a decent figure seem to win out. More jokes are made about ‘Motus’ and media have played no mean part championing the Thin-is-in mantra. Beauty Queens and Fashion Contests have unleashed a Frankenstein with grooming, figure-watching and weight-tracking fast becoming an unstoppable monster spreading its tentacles across the length and breadth of India.

This of course has brought on Anorexia and Bullimia & size zero, terms we had never heard of earlier. All this – according to some – is the flip side of the much-touted, revered, celebrated and hyped ‘globalisation’ and ‘consumerism’, commodifying the female body into an object of desire and delight. “When was the last time you read or heard the media urging women to put on weight instead of losing it” asks Rupali Arora, a working woman. Societal pressures have added to it with No one wants a fat wife in the marriage market. While “celeb fatties” are cool, the ordinary ones remain marginalised in some form, overshadowed by their slim and sexy counterparts.

The other side, however, refuses to be cowed down by this offensive and flamboyantly declares that their boy friends, lovers and husbands love them because “it’s better to have a 6-pack on your brain than stomach,” and finally the killer “bones are meant for dogs!”

Meanwhile, what does an individual woman/girl want about how she should look without any kind of pressure is, as usual ignored.

Views expressed are personal

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