Size Does (Not) Matter

3 min read

body shaming
Pratigya Dhali
Wanderlust. Bibliophile. Foodie. Writing is a way of escaping the mundane for me!

A couple of days back, our heart ached for pop singer Selena Gomez, who opened up about her ordeal with body shaming, that she was “messed up”. She had gained weight post her treatment for lupus and other related health issues. We realized that if celebrities could be trolled for such a natural experience, then we mere mortals had no right to complain. (sic)

Body Shaming Is A Vice

Body shaming is a global problem. Do you remember the days, when you looked at the mirror and hated yourself? Or when you hid in your room or wore over-sized clothes? Most of us are not confident in our skin, and to add to it are ‘well-wishers’, who constantly comment on our appearance, being the butt of regular ‘fat jokes’.

Body positivity movement has started gaining momentum, with even celebrities joining the fight. Recently the Dabangg actress, Sonakshi Sinha, hit back at trolls & body shaming, with a video titled ‘Bigger Than Them’. She had earlier been called rude names like: “cow on the catwalk”, “fatso”, “Motakshi Sinha” and other such derogatory terms .

The mainstream media has subconsciously fed such body stereotypes in our psyche-fair and thin. Can you remember any advertisement in print or visual media, where the model wasn’t a ‘beauty’? To become a model it was pre-requisite that your body measurement was somewhere between size 0 and 2.

The fashion industry is a stickler for such conventions, and the stories of models becoming anorexic are nothing new. Young girls starve themselves to be able to bag lucrative assignments with top designers and brands.

Plus Size Modelling

It has remained a mystery as to why the fashion industry stresses on such unrealistic physical measurement because over half of the women in the world do not adhere to such vital statistics.

Plus size modelling or curvy fashion is gaining popularity, where plus size girls with a fuller body are getting a chance. Though there are only a handful of such plus size models globally, namely Ashely Graham, Allegra Doherty, Candice Huffine, Natalie Laughlin, Angellike Morton, and Tess Holliday. Ashley Graham has been a pioneer in the body-positive movement.

She was among the first plus-size models to feature on Sports Illustrated and then went to feature for Vogue, British Vogue, Cosmopolitan and for several luxury brands. Curvy women who are between sizes 12 and 16, fall in this category. Truth be told it should be called normal size modeling, since most women fall in that size band, and the term itself is derogatory!

The Story Of Varshita Thatavarthi

In India, the ideals of beauty are extremely unrealistic, since in general we are brown and have a fuller body, yet we constantly seek fair and slim girls and deride those who don’t fall under such category.

Varshita Thatavarthi is among India’s top plus size models, who took the fashion industry by storm when she featured in ace designer Sabyasachi’s International Women’s day spread. She was born in Vishakapatnam and raised in Delhi and holds a degree in Journalism from Manipal.

body shaming

From a very young age, she had aspired to be a model and actress but was repeatedly rejected for five years, for being dusky and curvy. She said that she has been “to corridors of hell”, as no agency wanted to represent her as she didn’t fit the conventional body type.

Growing up in the 90’s she was part of the “Fair and Lovely” generation, where there was no means to gain awareness and celebrate your self, Varishita felt that if she didn’t tweak herself, she was doomed to be ugly. She tried to land roles in the South Indian film industry but was told to come back “thinner” and “fairer”. That she knew the language or had the talent wasn’t even considered.

She had gone to Chennai to meet director Mani Ratnam when she learned of a Sabyasachi jewelry exhibition. She was a huge fan, and had gone there to look at the collection, and had met the designer, who even obliged her with a selfie, which she posted on her Instagram account. Two months later she got a call to be a model for one of his shoots. And as the saying goes, the rest is history.

An Inspiration To Many

Varishta gets outraged by the body shaming acts such as being called plus size models as she finds it repulsive that people categorize women with fuller bodies while the thin models are referred to as a model.  At one point during her days of struggle, she lost 15 kilos in one go but still didn’t land any assignment.

Since she featured as a Sabyasachi model and even walked the ramp for his show, the congratulatory messages have not stopped coming. She feels exhilarated that she has been able to break the hypocrisy that has the society in its grasp. Many other young plus size girls have become inspired by her.

The confident model says in an interview, “I wasn’t obese or overweight. I had a healthy body from my childhood. I also realized it wasn’t possible to change the natural complexion I was born with. Instead, I am really proud of my healthy and glowing skin.”

She now wants to work with other designers and popular brands and make a foray into acting.

So learn to be confident in your body and skin, and remain healthy and happy!