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Dear Leaders, It is NOT Okay For You To Comment On Women’s Bodies!

Posted: March 25, 2021

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Comparing women’s bodies to ‘barrels,’ and fat-shaming DMK candidate Dindigul Leoni shows us again how women disrespected in our country.

It is baffling to think that not even in our ‘modern’ world does society accept women just as they are. Or is it? The statements by political leaders crowding news and social media prove that women’s bodies and choices have become more political than ever. 

One of the many politicians known for their degrading remarks about women is DMK candidate Dindigul Leoni. This time, the politician has managed to ridicule women’s bodies, mock their basic right to dietary choices and objectify them, all in the same speech

According to a report in India Today, Leoni claimed that women have ‘lost shape’ and now look like ‘barrels.’ For the longest time, women have been conditioned to achieve and maintain the ‘ideal body type.’ A body-type that is not too heavy and neither too light, with weight and curves only in the places that patriarchy recommends.

The politician further stated that women used to be ‘thin’ and their ‘hips had curves.’ As if it wasn’t enough, Leoni further went on to equate an ideal body to good motherhood. He went on to say that when ‘women had eight-shaped bodies, they were able to hold their child on one hip. Now since women are shaped like barrels, they can’t carry their children.’

The statements seem to be coming in from everywhere!

To blame the now ‘barrel-shaped’ bodies, the politician chose women’s most basic of choices – to consume whatever they like. According to Leoni, ‘drinking milk from foreign cows’ has made their bodies lose shape and apparently unfit for motherhood. Going after foreign cows is one thing but ridiculing women, their bodies and their choices a whole different one. 

It is noteworthy that this statement comes closely after the one made by the Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat. This politician chose to go after young people for their clothing.

He seems to be shocked at the sight of youngsters, especially women wearing a pair of ripped jeans. Tirath Singh Rawat’s concern also extended to women and their ability to parent. ‘What values will they pass on to their children?’ the CM remarks.

Closely following in the list of ridiculous statements is West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh’s statement. He is asking why CM Mamata Banerjee couldn’t put on a pair of ‘Bermudas’ to show off her plastered leg. 

All of these statements made by men in the public eye come down to the same thing – an attack on women’s choices to dress, eat and look however they do. What is important is that these men, broadcasted on television, set examples for society.

It is absolutely NOT okay to comment on women’s bodies!

Each time such an instance is looked over, it becomes more okay for a male colleague to make a snide remark about a woman’s body. Or even for a schoolgirl to be called out for the length of her skirt. These statements leave impressions and create narratives that are problematic.

We may label them as just a silly remark or a slip of tongue. However, it is important to note that we live in a world where only men are ‘allowed’ to make such comments. We all know how society would react if a woman were to make such comments.

The comfort of leniency and room for these ‘mistakes’ is extended only to one gender. Media and the men it highlights may be looked over. However, women and their lives and choices are constantly sacrificed for the prevailing narrative of patriarchy. 

Picture credits: Twitter handles of Dilip Ghosh and Dindigul Leoni

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A student of International Relations at Shiv Nadar University. Enjoys old bands and acrylics.

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