By Features Editor, Meghna Pant.
I have watched with alarm the trend for Indian women to go from fat to curvy, then voluptuous to slim, and then from slim to size zero. Fortunately, or so I thought, the buck stops here. Society has reached the end of its ideal female body prototype.
Apparently a woman can never be thin enough.
This week I was proven wrong. Apparently a woman can never be thin enough. And our mannequins are setting the trend for this. Yes, the humble mannequin you see in the store has now had her measurements liposuctioned from a 26-inch waist and 36-inch chest to a 24-inch waist and a 34-inch chest. What a diet to be put on!
The moot point is: will anyone allow plump to be the new buzzword? Without a doubt, thin fits you into slinky sexy dresses and backless choli’s, it makes the men whose arms you’re in saunter around in pride, and it is generally healthy to be in shape. But is that really the reason why women of today put themselves up against a size zero when a size (gasp!) four would suffice? Is this obsession with size zero really the need to pander to our men, please societal expectations and stand out amongst our women peers? Or is this just the Indian woman’s innate need to carry out some extreme form of sacrifice, however emancipated she may think she is?
deep-rooted societal norms are as difficult to shrug off as chocolate
Freedom and identity may have taken on different connotations through the centuries, but deep-rooted societal norms are as difficult to shrug off as chocolate. Women in post-Independence India were expected to sacrifice their individuality for the greater good of family and society. Over the years they traded in their patriarchal protection to find a voice of their own, and skittishly stepped out of their home’s threshold to discover what it was that kept their men away all day. These women had to deal with the insecurity of their partners, the derision of their patriarchal figureheads and acquire guilt from leaving their children home alone. Paving their independent charter and sniffing freedom enabled them to better educate their daughters, and now Indian women treat freedom, success and independence as a right and not an option.
we have gone and created a new counterpoint in our lives – ourselves.
But the veins of sacrifice have not skipped this generation. Our emancipation has ensured that we need not make extreme sacrifices for our families or partners or society. But we have gone and created a new counterpoint in our lives – ourselves. While we may not have to always fight chauvinistic men or confused husbands, we wage an internal battle with ourselves, for ourselves and by ourselves, by pegging our self-image to the celebrity culture. We beat ourselves up about our bodies, which may be healthy and functional, but have become a deep-rooted cause of dissatisfaction and under-confidence.
No wonder we’ve made Indian men today the envy of men across generations. They have women who earn well, look good, don’t have the time to nag, and want to buy their own diamonds. Is there really a bigger sacrifice for women out there?
Picture Credit: MVFilmSociety