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Talented actress Vidya Balan stands up for body positivity. It is not weight, but fitness that matters to her the most.
Most of us remember Vidya Balan for her intense and remarkable performances in movies such as Kahaani, Parineeta, Paa, Ishqiya, No One Killed Jessica, and The Dirty Picture. From a demure Indian girl to a heavily pregnant woman chasing the bad guys, from a hapless sister of a murdered woman to a South Indian star known for her erotic roles– Vidya has played it all, with effortless poise and élan. Her performances onscreen have left a legacy in Bollywood, that’ll be remembered for years to come.
However, despite Vidya’s powerhouse talent, the sexist media and public at large did not spare her from a generous dose of body shaming and vicious criticisms over her sartorial choices.
Despite being one of those few actresses in a male dominated industry, who can deliver successes at the Box Office, without the presence of a lead actor in her movies, she’s unfortunately also, one of the most body shamed actresses in the Hindi film industry. Hence, it came as a wonderful surprise when Vidya, just like the strong characters she plays onscreen, decided to stand up for body positivity and ignore her body shamers in real life.
In a recent interview with Hindustan Times, Vidya mentioned her erstwhile insecurities over her body weight:
“There was a time I used to take these negative criticisms very seriously. I was killing myself over losing weight. I would work out like crazy, starve myself and go on all kinds of weird diets. Yes, I would lose some weight but all that starving would leave me feeling very unhappy and drained. Worse, eventually I would regain that weight and that would make me more miserable. It had become a vicious cycle. Slowly, I realised that there is a body structure that I can’t fight, and I better embrace it. I began to feel comfortable in my weight. Today I do not consider it a ‘weight problem’. I think fitness is more important. Who decides what is desirable? We have begun to pigeonhole beauty, sexuality and desirability.”
She gives significant credit to her new found body positivity, to her performance in the movie- ‘The Dirty Picture’ where she had gained 12 kilos for her role.
“The Dirty Picture liberated me. At that time I was at my biggest, and yet people found me sexy. The reactions I got broke many norms for me. My lifelong struggle with my weight came to an end.”
Now, though Vidya is regular with her exercise regime, she aims to remain healthy and fit and not to become thin.
“I love to work out but I am not trying to defy my body structure anymore. I can’t change my body type. But I can change the way I feel about my body. And most days I feel absolutely sexy… of course, if I am not having a bad hair day!”
Vidya Balan is setting a very positive trend in an industry, obsessed with the stereotypical body images for women, that is, a woman should be thin and fair (besides being pretty, of course!). The confidence to accept yourself, no matter what your size and focus on a healthy lifestyle is something which all women should aspire for.
If our film industry is led by personalities such as Vidya Balan, it will indeed set a progressive trend for women, for years to come. Actresses will not be seen as mere arm candies seducing the actors, rather they will be loved for their own performances and talents which runs much deeper than their looks. And if an industry based on looks can make such a positive transformation, imagine how much of progress, we can expect in other fields, with women professionals! We really hope actresses like Vidya Balan become the norm, rather than the exception, in the film industry in the years to come.
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This is a nice post Kasturi. Its great that Vidya Balan has stood up for herself and her choice to be natural. She has also embraced her own style statement which is different from the others in the film industry. The Indian fashion and film industries these days set standards of style and beauty which often blindly ape the west imagining them to be superior or something more desirable. These are all modern fads that have caught their fancy! In the early (and even later 60s to 90s) Indian cinema there were such diverse body types among the heroines in the Indian film industry and they were all appreciated purely for their acting talent. Now we obsess so much over the exterior looks and presentation of everything and everyone that we have lost the wisdom and willingness to appreciate diversity and true talent. The run-way models look pretty much like clones of each other or they are made to look unnaturally bizarre in a false attempt at diversity. Why can’t we be simple and accept nature’s bounty of diversity already naturally bestowed upon each individual and go deeper than skin and hair and body!!!
Completely agree, Sonia. Rather than blindly following a set standard of beauty for all, we need to accept and revel in our uniqueness, our diversity. Society plays a big role in making us think that certain things are desirable while others are not, but I guess the biggest power lies within us. The moment we decide to love ourselves unconditionally, we become invincible. 🙂
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