I’ve always wanted to be an actor, but it was something that took a lot of courage to admit, even to myself. You see, I was a middle-class girl from a Muslim family, mildly conservative, academic head-girl type etc. Not exactly conventional “Bollywood heroine” material.
Being born a woman comes with a set of disadvantages, no matter where you are born or raised. Indra Nooyi, Sheryl Sandberg and a million other women can attest to that. Of course, as a girl, more often than not, your first toy is a Barbie — yes, globalisation has brought about a certain ironic standardisation in the toys we play with. That plastic toy acquired at, say, age five(and here, I’m talking as a South Delhi girl), sets the benchmark for physical appearance for girls for life. In short, perfection. Or rather, some ill-formed, non-existent, air-brushed yardstick of what is popularly known as perfection.
That was what the world told me to aspire to. But what I figured out eventually was that Barbie can be dusky and she can be black, she can have curly hair, she can wear a T-shirt with holes, she can bake, and if you send her out to bat she can hit a six. Barbie can be whoever you want her to be. I figured out that you could be your own Barbie and perhaps even I could be Barbie.
I am pretty by most conventional standards. But even I feel the “weight of that. Weirdly, though, that’s not what I love about my body, my curves or my image. I love that I have a crooked tooth, and scars from being adventurous. I love that I have Hobbit feet. And yes, this is a first-time admission to exceptionally large feet.
I love movies — I love watching them, being a part of them. But as an actor, the fact that my face and my body are subject to such constant scrutiny is irksome. At least as an actor I signed up for this. Yet isn’t this something all women have learned to do as well?
We live in a culture that bombards us constantly with messages from movies, TV shows, advertisements, magazine covers, telling us there’s only one definition of a perfect body — and guess what, you don’t fit it and probably never will.
Women are constantly taught not to love themselves. You already know who the world wants you to be —