What's With Marriages And Body Shaming?
“This might not fit you. Sorry, your size isn’t available right now.” An overweight girl’s life is filled with these words. Gradually, when she starts dating; her partners always compliment “You’re so cute!” but deep down she wants to hear the words “You’re beautiful!”
Indian Weddings; also known as the heavenly union of two families, coming together to form a new world altogether! “From biscuits to brides, if there is anything their children really want, parents have a problem,” an excerpt from the movie ‘2 States’ starring Arjun Kapoor & Alia Bhatt holds true. A rather simple question comes up in our mind: What if Ananya wasn’t the perfect girl next door? Similarly: What if Krish was not the man of dreams? Would they have ever dated each other? And even if they did, would their parents ever accept their relationship? These physical parameters change the whole course of many couple’s lives.
A big question that remains: Why can’t an average-looking person find any matches on Indian dating apps like Tinder, Bumble? According to a Quora user “It’s pretty obvious psychology; people with better looks and money can easily attract partners than average-looking people. No matter how good you may be character-wise, in the digital world, your face value is everything that netizens first notice. I would recommend not to waste your time on these apps if you are just an average Raju.” This garnered many upvotes because at the end of the day; it is the bitter truth of life.
There has always been a stereotypical view in every person’s mindset. 1600’s Shakespearean Classic i.e., Othello introduced the phrase ‘Tall, Dark & Handsome’ and it clearly refers to the TYPE of men our society finds appealing. Similarly, womxn are supposed to be fair, slim, and beautiful in order to be accepted by our hypocritical society. These gratuitous beauty standards are totally unnecessary in the world where Feminism stands right. It’s 2021 and people do need to understand that these physical aspects mean nothing out in the real world. What matters is a heart filled with kindness and love.
“Have you considered joining a gym? I have a really great dietician in my mind for you!” A girl is expected to keep mum regarding these comments as if she were a sycophant. In many Indian households, the ‘to-be couple’ is asked by their relatives to have the last supper with them before marriage. With these anticipated meetings come unsolicited questions like “Don’t you think you should lose some pounds before the D-Day? Try reducing carbs & sugar. Avoid rice, sweets, potato & red meat and you’ll be sorted.” And what is sanctimonious is that they themselves serve sweets as a ritual.
Marriage is an important part of our lives. But what can ruin it is a major embarrassment caused due to trivial things. Almost every other girl’s wish is to have a dream wedding. A 12-year-old girl in Prayagraj dreamt of donning Tarun Tahilani’s Bridal Lehenga. The big day was arriving shortly; Dr. Tanaya Narendra, a very successfully established doctor went to the Ambawatta Store in New Delhi. “Sorry, but our store doesn’t serve a size 16,” came the reply. Childhood fantasy filled with innocence stuck with reality right then. A successful doctor marrying the love of her life while society screams “LOSE WEIGHT!”
Every voluptuous woman faces some kind of insult, embarrassment during her wedding. “Your belly is showing in the lehenga, haww!” “Try using Gua Sha; your face would look snitched.” “Don’t put up heavy makeup” “Stick to a monotone colour ensemble” You know what is troublesome here? Magazines, Blog Sites writing articles like: “How to look slimmer on your wedding day?” “Tips for curvy brides to look 10lb less on your D-Day” This is exactly where the trouble began. Plus-sized girls do deserve a dreamy outfit. Just because you don’t concur with the beauty standards, it doesn’t mean you aren’t worthy of a desirable outfit.
Another notable fact is that womxn tend to gain weight after nuptials. But society often confronts them with “Are you expecting a baby? When are you due?” And the endless cycle of societal pressure to lose weight continues indefinitely.
With the making of new bonds; come new responsibilities. New responsibilities build up tremendous pressure for the couple. Scientifically it has been proven that our stress hormone i.e., Cortisol can lead to weight gain. While this hormone is essential for fight and flight situations, it can also increase your appetite. Additionally, elevated cortisol levels can cause cravings for sweet, fatty, and salty foods. Similarly, post-wedding changes include regular consummation as well. While having sex, our body produces the love hormone aka Oxytocin which has also been linked to an increase in appetite and hence, putting up weight. This hormone is found in higher amounts in females rather than males.
After the marriage union comes the main problem — pressurizing the couple to have a baby as soon as possible. And according to statistics, nearly 16% of the Indian Population suffers from PCOD. And our society is dumb enough to blame womxn for being overweight. They just don’t accept the science behind PCOD i.e., weight gain happens due to hormonal imbalance.
Remember back in 2018 when Riverdale’s Lili Reinhart was dating Cole Sprouse and there was this paparazzi photograph of her bloated tummy? Fans speculated that she was pregnant. And what could have been more embarrassing than this? She had to publicly shut these rumors down. These rumors can have such a drastic effect on someone’s mental health and can also result in various eating disorders as well. And married womxn in India go through this on a daily basis.
In conclusion, I’d say – understand people! Show empathy, not sympathy. Not everyone who is plump has got health issues. Neither is there a hard and fast rule that everyone who is oversized or undersized is not okay with their body. It is just that society looks at it that way. Let’s all be body positive and provide people with safe spaces.
Written by: Upasna Mohapatra
Edited by: Uma Sathwika Manda
Illustration by: Alfia