Saturday, December 12, 2015

Stop the shaming!

I recently came across this article which really perturbed me. It talks about this woman - Mona Joshi's- experience when shopping at a designer trousseau store in Mumbai. On further inquiring about a size which was not in stock/ unavailable, she asked what should women of her size do? "Go to the gym" was the shocking reply from the salesperson.
Mona left the store with disbelief of what she had heard and with the help of her rakhi brother sent a complaint email to the store owner, that was shared on social media and which drew a lot of support for her and negative reviews for the fashion house.

It eventually became a PR disaster for the emerging fashion house, once the story in Indiatimes was shared 5k+ times. A blot on their customer service with social media sharing the story like wildfire, just added the fuel to the fire on the brand's bad PR.

Sure, the guy could've courteously said "Sorry ma'am we do not have the size you are looking for" or any other alternate answer and we'd not have read about this incident. But I'm glad she stood up and took action and did not take it lying down.

If you think the salesman was doing her a favour by giving her some harsh advice or joking about the whole thing, then I feel you are a special kind of idiot and need to move on to the blog for common sense. If you think his comment was blown out of proportion and Mona was making a mountain of a molehill, then read on....

Frankly, I don't really blame they guy. He's every other guy. And ever other lay person, as a matter of fact, does think the same way - that a woman must perceptibly fit into a particular size mould.

But in fact, this is about a larger issue at hand. It is just not the fight against fat-shaming a slightly plump woman coping with medical issues, but it is about the fight every tall, short, thin, fat, curvy, more specifically, an Indian woman goes through the pressure from the society of being fit into a particular pre-notioned acceptable shape. It's about body-shaming.

Victoria's Secret's campaign being slammed for body shaming
PC: etonline

If you think I'm being a feminist here? I'm not. It is a well known fact that women receive more flak than Indian men who are who are over weight or plus sized. And more so, Indian women in particular, thanks to our patriarchal society. Don't believe me? Just open up the newspaper and count the number of advertisements that feature weight loss stories of women or a showcased slender model for a gym ad. Nobody wants to know the real reason behind their weight gain or shape or size. No one wants to know about their struggle behind battle inner demons and the constant ridicule the face from their dear ones to random stares and sneering from on-lookers on the street. Right from little girls to elderly ladies, no woman is spared!

'87-89 born, Slim, Fair, Tall'  is common to be demanded in the matrimonial sections for the want of slim and slender brides. We all know celebrities are always under the constant glare of the paparazzi and the constant scrutiny of fans and critics alike. But the scrutiny and criticism goes a tad too far when it comes to ridiculing their sudden weight gain. Be it singer Adele, actress Kim Kardashian and more such celebrities have been subjected to some or the other spotlight on their weights. Closer to home, the minute the news of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan giving birth to daughter Aradhya hit the streets, tabloids had already writing on when weight and her 'double-chin' to her original pre-pregnancy shape.

Then again, ordinary, everyday women are not photo-shopped to hide their cellulite and make them look more slender and thinner.

Then again, words like 'fat' are not openly used (unless it is your naughty five year old nephew/niece). The term is watered down to many synonyms make if palpable for perfect-figure challenged. Thinly veiled words like 'plump', 'slightly on the heavier side', 'curvy', and even 'chunky' are used - not just from the salespersons, but from our loved ones. Ironically, women are subjected to other women's comments on their weight and sizes, regardless of the latter's size!

More importantly, this body shaming puts all the more pressure one to look thinner than what they are. Even if they are already meeting their ideal weight for their height and body type, the want of looking spectacularly slim like supermodels or unrealistic weight loss stories over-weighs the reasoning of having sound health. And when they struggle from peer pressure to drop a particular size or look a particular shape, their social esteem takes a huge beating, so much so they are driven to depression and worst even suicide.

What we really need to blame, is the stereotypical mentality that has been cultivated about women's shape and sizes. That women are intended to be at certain figure. Not too thin, not too fat. Not too short or not too tall. Why can't we accept anyone's shape as they are? Why must they have to be slim and trim?

And it is perhaps for every woman in every age group. Just as a girl hits puberty, she has to look a particular size. The transition from teens to the twenties, she is under the constant peer pressure to be in a particular size or shape. On getting married, she has to look perfect on her D-Day, regardless of how the groom looks. Then she gets pregnant. Instead of basking in the joy of the upcoming motherhood, she is silently mulling in the back of her mind, what her mother, sister, best friend, neighbour wali aunty told her about weight gain and losing that weight after her baby is born.
Right from the beginning of her pregnancy, she is worried on how she will lose all the pregnancy weight after the delivery of her baby. Even a mother who has just delivered her baby and who has is just acclimatizing the newness and experience of motherhood, is gradually hammered and drilled, albeit passively to lose the weight she put on.

Like every other girl out there, have struggled with my weight like many other women. I have been to to be blessed with a good height and therefore, my weight does not show. Comments like "You are tall, that's why you don't look that fat" Which makes me wonder, is being taller than the average girl, also a problem?

I dissent even now to be compartmentalized into this box that defines the perfect figure.
I have been compared to other guys' for my height, who felt a pang of jealousy as I was taller than them. I have been gasped at when the needle of the weighing machine pointed in another direction. I have been constantly told by people, that constitute my near and dear ones, to shed those excess pounds before marriage. And have been at the receiving end of a barrage of comments on my shape and size as a comparison to other girl's shape and size. My figure has been like a stencil to compare other girl's figures, "She's plump like you, but not as tall as you" or "She's slightly plumper than you" And I have been guilty of feeling comforted when another woman has been plumper than me. And that I eventually felt is wrong.

Why couldn't there have been a bigger size in clothing? A size that is for real women. Who has flabby arms, but drop dead gorgeous legs. One who has perfectly sculpted shoulders, but has a plump waistline. Why can't fashion accommodate for all size and shapes in one store without having the need to go to another 'plus size store' that is for some excluded sect of people all together?

But there are steps being taken. Take for instance, Facebook taking down the 'feeling fat' emoticon and a movement towards acceptance of body diversity. More so, more and more people are opening up and taking action against shaming and bullying. I support Mona's stance. It is because of her, more women will open up and take matters into their hands.

So can we stop body shaming? Can we overcome the societal norms and perceptions on the size of women? Can we create a change in perception?

Not everyone is perfectly sized, whatever the reason may be. It is that uniqueness that sets everyone apart. The clothes should fit the person, and not the other way around!

P.S.: I could've easily responded to the comments on the post and argued with a couple of people. But as it is said ' Never argue with a fool, they will drag you down to their level and beat you by experience'

1 comment:

  1. Very nice post, impressive. its quite different from other posts. Thanks for sharing.

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    ReplyDelete

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