PALLAVI TYAGI AND RADHIKA DAS
These lyrics from Beyonce Knowles’ song ‘Bootylicious’ are, in the singer’s own words, “a celebration of curves and a woman's natural body”. In a recent interview, the singer publicly stated: “You should be thinking about building up your character and having fun, not how much you weigh.”
And believe it or not, that is the new mantra among a large (excuse the pun) section of Indians today who are beginning to feel that thin is out, and it’s all about being healthy, looking good and loving the ‘real’ you!
From the increasing number of plus size clothing stores, to displays of plus size lingerie and advertisements - the ‘large’ revolution seems to have taken urban India by storm. And everyone from fitness experts, fashion designers, to the junta seems to be singing the same song. “I love it! The focus is now on ‘real’ people!” says Dr. Anju Ghei, vice president, training - slimming and fitness, VLCC Pvt. Ltd.
“What is natural is always beautiful...” feels designer Raghavendra Rathore and ‘natural’ is the buzzword today. With the rest of the world battling with size zero diets and pills that are increasingly finding their place in the lives of aspiring models and the recent deaths of few anorexic models this is indeed a refreshing sight to see our fixation with size zero finally wane. “Earlier, thin was considered to be healthy. In addition, there are many psychological and social pressures on young girls to look good. We are in awe of the thin models that are shown on western programmes. But all this is changing now. I have teenage sons who are not so fixated about being thin,” says Dr. Ghei.
“Indians are more curvaceous and it is considered to be very sexy. You can see the change in Bollywood too! Indian models and actresses are much sought after in the west. And they are not so thin!” she adds.
“I think we should acknowledge the fact that Indian bodies should be curvy and there is much more grace in having a curvy, shapely body rather than fitting into size zero like any western counterpart,” says Paramita Roy, a language specialist.
Agrees fashion designer, Ranna Gill, “Size zero is not appealing at all. I think plus size women look great; I know a couple of plus size models who look fabulous.”
Indians are not made to be a size zero, say experts. According to Dr. Ghei, there are different body types, “There are Ectomorphs who are thin in built, fragile, and have narrow shoulders - you’ll find such body types in show business and amongst dancers. Then you have mesomorphs - muscular, toned, and athletic and are considered one of the best looking body types. The endomorphs are typically soft, cuddly and overweight. Indians are between these two - mesomorphs and endomorphs.”
“It’s time we accept the fact that no matter how hard Indians try, it is a little difficult to achieve size zero. So, I guess it is rather important to be healthy than anything else,” says Paramita.
With the reality finally hitting home, the focus is now on looking good and being healthy. “Often, with the motive to look like a celebrity or a model, we ignore our health completely...and in the process neither do we achieve what we set to nor are we able to retain the good things in our health and body,” says Neha Kapoor, a quality analyst.
“And, a healthy lifestyle not only means dieting and fitting into zero-size apparels. It also means keep way from liqueur, don’t smoke, and avoid late night parties and drugs. It’s a wider spectrum,” adds Ranna.
Indeed, the spectrum of health and fitness, according to Dr. Ghei, is much wider than just puffing away on the treadmill. “Fitness is usually associated with the physical aspect of being healthy. But health means being free of disease. You should be mentally, socially, spiritually healthy,” says Dr. Ghei.
Healthy living coupled with the availability of right-sized clothes and correct accessories is making way for an energized and more confident people. And with stylists and make-over experts lending a helping hand, looking good has never been so easy. According to Shruti Singh, BMQ-manager for Straps, a lingerie store that recently launched innerwear for plus sized women, “Women with bigger sizes are now coming out confidently asking for sexier and better options.”
“Earlier overweight people were embarrassed and tried to hide behind saris. Today everyone wants to look good. They don’t mind the extra weight. And then you have makeovers for heavy people too! There are professionals to guide them, and a lot many grooming products in the market. All this adds to their confidence levels,” says Dr. Ghei. Agrees Paramita, “People are getting more and more comfortable about their body and fashion is becoming more generic in nature. There is no longer an inhibition about what an imperfect body size should avoid wearing.”
With more and more people shedding inhibitions about their size and asserting their right to look good, we finally seem to have moved a step ahead in the fashion evolution in India.
As Ranna says, “I think with advancement and better education the priority is shifting from physical beauty, which was once defined by a 36-24-36 figure. Forget figure, now it’s more to do with attitude and brains!” Amen to that!