Last Saturday I was out at the mall. Not because I was pandering to the mall rat syndrome. Or connecting with my brand sl** side (yeah, that’s a term too!). But because convention and circumstances demanded it. And I was merely following the mind.
There’s an office party coming up. And the sole purpose of the visit was to be able to get some snazzy party outfit for the evening.
That was not meant to be. After doing the rounds of some SIX stores, I was left with no tangible possession in hand. Instead, what I had in my consciousness were those clothes-not-fitting-me images, the yoga-not-helping-me-at-all moments, irritated attendants and surprised store executives (perhaps they were surprised that I was even trying out stuff that I wasn’t meant to!)
It seems like #AchcheDin for the Size Zero club. And its fanatics. And the industry that it has spun around itself. From diet fads to lifestyle choices to appearance management and wardrobe selection, looks like small (and thin) is beautiful. And bountiful.
The first store that I went to was a disappointment. The zipper of the first dress that I tried got stuck and refused to budge – all this while the attendant gave me a “I told you so” look. The following three dresses – all from their so-called Free Size section – were clearly meant for pre-teens or as they are now called in a fancy shmancy manner, Tweens!
At the second store, the attendant – herself a barely-there 24 inches of waist – looked at me, then at the black floral dress and then back at me again and quipped: “Look at the dress and look at you. You think you will fit?”
I looked into space. The attendant was pretty and petite. She barely weighed 40 kilos. And must have been all of 23. Tact was clearly not something that she had been able to mistress in her life so far.
Dealing with an image-conscious, selfie-driven Generation that lives in the instant meant that she knew every fad was a fashion. And that Saturday in April 2015 it seemed fashionable to be a Size Zero. Else, the world was sure gonna judge you. Which it did.
Else, why would you have store after store retailing similar kind of outfits – similar patterns, figures, material – almost an assembly-line production? And all of them came in the same size! If they weren’t sourced en masse it would have not been possible for all to sport the same range of size-s.
I left the second store, dejected. And while I don’t have an hourglass figure and have never aspired to have one (and don’t think will want to have one), I am what would be called normal and healthy by Indian standards. Having survived a scrawny teen, I know the baggage that used to come with being thin.
But after visiting six stores and trying to try out dresses, I realised that thin is in. And by thin I mean an unnatural thin. For close to three hours that day, I felt close to having a moment which popular culture and Hollywood know as #fatshaming. It seems like the normal Indian woman (whether in her 20s, 30s or 40s) is expected to be a 36-24-36. Any thing away from that is an aberration of sorts. Looking at the mirror and the realising that what you are forced to see are only bulges and tyres does little for your ego, self-esteem and body image.
And there seems to be a whole school of thought perpetuating that myth. Being healthy, fit and fine is one thing. But being a serial dieter with serious body image issues is another. Thankfully, I know where to draw the line.
And I think I have placed the pencil in the right direction: why make brands rich that make me feel poor about the way I am? Instead, I shall patronise the (Ladies) Tailor who shall at least make an effort to follow my word in making me look good.
Cause it’s my body. And I shall have the last word.