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Opinion: Why are women so paranoid about weight?


Monojit Lahiri,IBNLive.com
Jan 29, 2013 at 11:01am IST

"So that, guys can figure out, loud n' clear, the difference between boobs and butt!" goes one facile explanation. Other smart one-liners include "less weight, lesser the wait for that dream flight towards the dream man", "sharper the edge of the knife, sharper the chances to kill!" and "B'coz thin is IN and makes men cave in!"

Behind the light-hearted frivolity and sleigh-of-hand posturing, however, these bon mots 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 of Miranda House, Delhi.

Minoo should know. A chubby young filly 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 - I wanted to be desired, wanted and loved full-time by hot guys. Its natural, no?" So she went into gymming, dieting and all of that "and boy, are there boys in my life, now?! Boss, zindagi rocks!"

Why are women so paranoid about their weight?

Behind the lighthearted frivolity, however, these bon mots betray a strong sense of apprehension.

This line of thinking is deployed by Indian Airlines too while selecting Air Hostesses. Recently they were alleged to have dumped a couple of Air Hostesses because they were (even if marginally) off the stipulated statistics/weight mark required. Vijay Mallya's - The King of Good Times! - Kingfisher Airlines makes it a point to employ babes with fashion-model looks hitting the sky!

Not everybody is doing a tango with this philosophy. Fumes a well known actor-producer known for her forthright views on... well,everything..."Who the hell decides these weighty issues? ashion 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?"

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 In-defence-of-the-Motu is true, what does one say of the reality show where money was doled out to winners who lost weight? Replies an amused, pretty, smart, young executive (in her early twenties) in retort. "All this talk about not caring about how fat or over-weight one is and being comfortable in one's skin being the main thing applies to women who are older - or those who don't care a damn about looking good, feeling great and being admired. There are (I guess) these types BUT by and large this is just fake posturing, dramabaazi to hide complexes and turbo-charge on the offence is the best defence route! Bulls**t! Every girl/woman - young or old - today 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 woman have no BRAINS and the fat slobs 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, verna...!"

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 has 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, 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 females to put on weight instead of losing it", asks Rupali Arora, an early thirties working woman. Societal pressures have added to it with No one wants a fat wife turning on the heat 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 "there is more to have and hold" and "its better to have a 6-pack on your brain than stomach." We shall "weight" for your reactions, people!

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