August 7th, 2012.
A lot has been said about Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s weight gain over the past few weeks. Most of it is far from flattering to hear especially if you are Aishwarya Rai, the former Miss World. I must confess that some of the jokes doing the rounds on Facebook are quite funny and make you giggle. However the fact remains that Aishwarya Rai Bachchan just changed our World.
Yes that does sound like a very strong statement, and I intend to fully back it up. You see, very often when you look at human history, you can pin out that one person or event that changed our world. Thomas Edison’s light bulb was one such moment and so was Henry Ford’s assembly line, the iPod changed music forever and so did the electric guitar. Sometimes in our daily lives we look at the world as it is and are able to identify something that needs to change. I bet if you are in India right now, you are thinking that the escalating price of petrol should make us look at cleaner, greener ways of powering our gas guzzling vehicles. The problem is that lesser mortals like us don’t possess the resources, acumen or will to change the world.
A few decades ago, someone decided to make a size-zero model walk the ramp and put up hoardings with her modeling the latest that the fashion industry had to offer. This started a revolution in the fashion business. Tall, thin and sexy was the accepted definition of beauty. Unfortunately to maintain this figure is a challenge best understood by models, especially those would like to spend their millions on 3 square meals a day but instead need to settle for a tasteless salad and two liters of water. A few days ago, I was waiting for a friend of mine to pick me up and a model happened to walk past. I recognized her from a campaign she was featured in, but I could not help but think that she could really do with some food…something with lots of ghee and even more delicious marinated meat.
The irony is that the clothes that these skinny size-zeroes model are never worn by women of that size. Most often when I watch someone on the catwalk, I cannot help but think that their body is unrealistically thin. Over the years, girls around the world have aspired to be just like these ‘So-called Gorgeous Women.’ This has led to more than a dozen eating disorders and left many girls sad, dejected, depressed and even dead.
A few years ago, some fashion houses seeing the high number of deaths in the modeling industry decided to only use models who were not unrealistically skinny. While I think people worldwide appreciated this step, like the in the case of cleaner, greener fuel alternatives, we did not have enough adopters and hence, the world did not change.
Cut to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan at the Cannes Film Festival a few days ago. In spite of all the jokes that ranged from Bol Bachchan to Gol Bachchan to calling her chubby and overweight, Aishwarya made it to the red carpet looking gorgeous just the way she is. The criticism came from every corner. Everyone had an opinion but pretty much echoed the same thought – “She needs to go on a diet.”
So here are my two bits. Why? Who are you to tell her what she should and shouldn’t do? So what if Victoria Beckham became a size-zero just a few weeks after she delivered her baby? Who are you to say that it is her DUTY to look good and fit? I love how we have an opinion on something that does not even involve us. Aishwarya does not owe you or me JACK! We had absolutely NOTHING to do with her career and success. She won the Miss World Pageant; it was not American or Indian Idol where we could have taken credit for sending one over-priced SMS that titled the votes in her favor. No, we did nothing. Our only contribution would have been sitting in front of the TV in 1994 feeling proud that ‘WE’ won the Miss World Pageant. But we didn’t, SHE did. Since then she has worked her way up to where she is now. Let’s face it, she would still be richer than all of us even if she did not work a day in her life. All she is today, is because she managed her career in the best possible way to make her the most well-known women in India and arguable in the sub-continent.
Try naming another actress from the Sub-Continent who got photographed at the Cannes Film Festival. I had to twist Google’s arm for it to show me results apart from Aishwarya Rai. Apparently Sonam Kapoor and Freida Pinto were there as well, but really, WHO CARES? Mallika Sherawat made an appearance as well but it was as forgettable as trigonometry in the 10th grade.
The interesting thing is that even when Aishwarya was super thin, she was criticized for the clothes she would wear on the red carpet. In other words, no matter what she does, we’re gonna say that she does not meet our expectations. But let’s be honest, who cares?
I have never been an Aishwarya fan, but right now, I think she is quite awesome. She has single handedly made it acceptable to be ‘WHO YOU ARE,’ and that’s a big deal. All the fashion conglomerates together could not change our minds about beauty, but this 38-year-old mother of a 5-month-old just did. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan just changed the World. Wait and watch how now actresses in their 40’s in Bollywood will start getting roles. Wait and watch how now the hoarding for your favorite brand will have real people with real bodies. Wait and watch how now being ‘Who You Are,’ will once again be acceptable.