Having sleepless nights over that bulging flab? Planning to hit the gym or cut down on calories, or join a slimming centre to possess the ‘perfect’ body?
Probably at this moment you are nodding your head silently. But have you ever thought what constitutes the ‘perfect’ body?
For most of us, it is the so called perfect figures we see on television flaunting their sexy curls and curves that define our own perception of a perfect physique. Or the slimming centres and gyms with their ‘before’ and ‘after’ advertisements that appear every morning in the news paper.
Our image of the perfect body is one created by popular culture where ideas are churned out with such regularity that we become convinced of our bodily flaws. We compare and invariably fall short in our own eyes.
The ‘Perfect’ Body Myth!
If you turn to the pages of the illustrated ‘Kamasutra’ or the ancient Indian temple sculptures, you will find that the physiology that appealed to the Indian aesthetic was very much different.
Bulky bodies, round arms, heavy buttocks feature in all these ancient representations. However, with the colonial rule, and imposition of the western notion of beauty, the focus shifted towards slender bodies and narrow waists. And since, India has basked in the colonial hangover that you shall be slim and slender, fair and lovely, to be considered beautiful.
Think of the Barbie Doll we present to little girls. Its image is certainly not in tune with the physiological features of Indian women. Slim, tall, fair. But that is the concept of beauty most women aspire for. Young women stop eating (in the name of ‘dieting’); use fairness creams to emulate the western skin tone; indulge in cosmetic surgeries to rectify physical ‘defects’.
And yet after all this we hear ‘my body, my rights!’ from feminist quarters. Do you really believe you are the owner of your body or is it owned by these corporate-colonial consumerist enterprises who make capital out of your insecurities?
The Business Of Perfection
Slimming centers put up advertisements and hoardings championing, celebrating and provoking you to have the ‘right kind of body’. Adding fuel to this ideological brainwashing is the media which sells images of beauty that lead you to commit violence on your body – you struggle to achieve a body that THEY consider beautiful!
Men spend hours pumping in the gym, women devote time in the parlour or slimming centers. However, the capital generated from this self-inflicted torment goes to capitalist enterprises that thrive and prosper on this flawed logic.
The most common justification that people who back such capitalistic endeavour give is that, obesity is detrimental to health and it is actually good to have a slender body.
Dear justifiers, you don’t have to have a size-zero figure to remain fit; you don’t have to join slimming centers to remain fit; you don’t have to stop eating to remain fit. You just need to maintain a healthy life and balance diet to stay fit.
Fitness and well-being have nothing to do with being slim, slender, or beautiful.
The only reason to shed weight should be a personal motivation to feel better. And when someone taunts you for being plump, for being dark or for being ugly, throw back what Naomi Wolf has to say – “She wins who calls herself beautiful and challenges the world to change to truly see her.”