Sridevi’s Death and Looking “Healthy”

Just trying to get something positive out of this.  Might as well use it as a reminder of what “healthy” actually means, versus how the Indian press and public figures (just in the past few years!  It is still reversible!) have started to use it.  And how the West has been using it for years.

About 5-10 years ago I started noticing a disturbing trend in interviews with female movie stars.  I had already noticed a disturbing trend of female movie stars being expected to be skinnier and skinnier.  But now in interviews it was being talked about and phrased as being “healthy”.  Not only that, it was being described as some kind of public service by celebrities, modeling for the uninformed public what “healthy” looked like.  That was explicitly said, but also implied through the content like providing exercise or diet tips.  These were the “healthy” ideals with the general slovenly unhealthy Indian public (especially the female public) should look up to.

What is frustrating for me is that this is all pretending that India is not India.  That is, ignoring that a large number of the population is skinny not because they follow diets and work out but because they are malnourished.  And, more important in terms of the film industry, it is ignoring that the female ideal up to just a few years back was something that could be achieved without dieting or going to the gym, but merely normal human activity.  And that this is still the female ideal in major parts of the country.

And that same idea comes up with the response to it, films like Shaandar that are “teaching” people to appreciate differently sized women.  Instead of acknowledging that most people do appreciate normal women in India, it’s only the very small elite community that does not.  And talking about it in this way is in fact normalizing that it is okay for your first reaction to be “ewww, she doesn’t look perfectly skinny, I hate her!”

(Sanah Kapor in this is the same size or smaller than Namitha in Billa just 6 years earlier.  Namitha of course playing the unbelievably sexy vamp that all the men naturally wanted, because Namitha and Sanah are the beauty ideal for much of the country while Alia is not necessarily.)

The messages against this ideal that have begun to appear are accepting the basic premise, that people have to be “taught” that big is beautiful, rather then that most people already know that and the media and celebrities have to be “taught” to understand what the idea is in the majority of the country where they are.  All you have to do is step out of the Hindi film industry of the past 10 years to find different beauty standards. The women of Bahubali are beautiful and have bodies that are the same as the body that was idealized in Indian film and art for centuries.  Silk Smitha was the sexy ideal for years.  “Ooo La La” with Vidya Balan from just a few years back is still considered one of the sexiest songs ever.  There is a lie being perpetuated both that thin=”healthy” and that thin=”popular Indian beauty ideal”.

Image result for silk smitha

(The female ideal)

It’s a strange sort of globalization effect.  First the imitation of global beauty standards, and then the imitation of global beauty standard reform movements.  Neither of which really fit in the Indian context.  And both of which are phrased in terms of “health”.

(not saying India is perfect, just saying there should be a big song and dance number about the beauty of darker skin instead of the beauty of curvy women if you want to start a reform movement)

 

What does this have to do with Sridevi?  I’m not going to get into dieting or plastic surgery or anything that may have caused ill health related to her appearance.  I just want to acknowledge the simple fact that meeting the upperclass Indian/Western ideals of feminine beauty has NOTHING TO DO with physical health.  Good or bad!  The outside of your body can tell almost nothing about the inside of the body.  At least, not unless you are a trained medical professional looking for trace indications of ill health for diagnosis.  “Health” and beauty standards should not be considered as related in any way.

So when Parineeti talks about “getting healthy”, meaning her weight loss, that is a dangerous white lie.  Because it isn’t necessarily healthier, especially for women, to be thinner.  And it plays into a whole idea of the Western/Indian elites being wiser and better and trying to “teach” others how they should be.

Image result for parineeti chopra

(It’s also not necessarily unhealthy to lose weight.  I’m not Parineeti’s doctor, I don’t know her body.  But if she wants to spread that message, she needs to tell us “my doctor told me I was unhealthy and that’s why I lost the weight, for me”.  Not just a general statement of weight loss as “healthy” by default)

Sridevi was remarkably young looking for her years.  In terms of body shape, face, everything else.  But that had nothing to do with her overall health.  A beautiful woman will not necessarily live forever.  We can look at Madhubala, at Meena Kumari, at dozens of examples of beautiful sparkling women whose appearance did not show what was happening inside of them.  Reema Lagoo died last year, at 59, seemingly in perfect health.  Daisy Irani is the opposite in every way of the female beauty ideals (grey hair, round body, etc. etc.) and she is 68 and has outlived Sridevi.

Image result for daisy irani

(Here she is with Shammi, who is 86)

 

All I want to do, so long as we are having these discussions, is point out that  an unattainable western ideal of beauty is making its way into Indian culture where it never had a place before and history is being erased to pretend it was always there, and the method being used to erase it is to say that it is “healthy” to look a certain way.

The problem with the western ideal of beauty being conflated  with “health” is two-fold.  First, people who do not meet it are constantly being told that they are unhealthy which can be very frustrating to fight back against.  But second, perhaps more dangerous, people who do meet it are more easily able to ignore unhealthy elements of their life.

For a personal example, years ago I had a friend who was very very pretty according to Western standards.  A tiny physical frame, long legs, small face, big eyes, etc. etc.  And I am not that, I am the opposite of that, very tall, large frame, etc. etc.  I lived in a 3rd floor walk up at the time and when I had her over once, I ran down the stairs to let her in, and then ran up the stairs back to my apartment without getting winded (since I did that 5 times a day).  Meanwhile, she was stopping at every landing to catch her breath.  Clearly, I was in better shape than she was.  But while I was feeling pressured to go to the gym, to eat healthier, to do everything I could to be as healthy as possible, she felt none of that pressure and was happily continuing to eat junk food and never walk anywhere.  Both of us were being treated unfairly, but while my unfair treatment would lead to minor daily irritation, hers could lead to serious health problems.

 

So, as long as I am looking for the good to come out of this situation, a reminder for us all that it’s not enough to go to the gym and be your ideal weight and put on moisturizer every night and dye your grey hairs and all the other things that can make your body look young on the outside, you also have to go to the doctor and find out if your body is still young on the inside.

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78 thoughts on “Sridevi’s Death and Looking “Healthy”

  1. Thank you! That’s always nice to hear.

    I was so careful as to how I treated parineeti because we can’t know if her weight loss was healthy or unhealthy, every woman is different.

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    • Yes. all those “but how could she have depression, she was so happy!” reactions.

      On Mon, Feb 26, 2018 at 5:47 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. Its saddening when people associate overweight or fat as being “unhealthy”, one can still be healthy and overweight if they maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, etc. .

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    • Yes, exactly. I am seeing so much coverage focused on “Sridevi was so healthy! How could this happen?” But what it really means is “Sridevi was so thin and young looking”, and that’s not the same thing as “healthy”. Healthy is something between yourself and your doctor and no one else can really know. Or should know.

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      • Some people are so judgmental as if they are doctors themselves and can just assume who is what. Also after Anushka shetty did her role in size zero and gained a bit of weight, people started calling her “aunty” she is stunningly beautiful either way, and when prabhas gained some weight no one says anything, double standards much.

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        • Speaking of Anushka, that’s one thing I alluded to but didn’t say. Women’s bodies are meant to have a layer of fat over them. So it would be very unlikely to have the kind of defined muscle tone all over that men do. Looking at Anushka in Bahubali, we know from behind hte scenes and so on that she was doing her own stunts, learned sword fighting, all sorts of very difficult physical feats. But her body was still curvy. The same would be true of Sridevi when she was young, all these amazing dance performances, clearly a very physically active body, but not the kind of defined muscle tone that had started to be considered “healthy” and “strong”.

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  3. Excellent post, but I want to add a few things. It must be a very new development that the Hollywood standard appearance began to be called “healthy.” It was only a few years ago that I was talking on the phone to a person in an Indian clothing store, either to buy ready made salwar kameez or to find out how much material was needed to have them made. At any rate, during the discussion, the store person asked me, “Are you slim, or healthy?” Since I am what might be called “very healthy” in this context, I found that euphemism rather funny. But that was the accepted usage in India at the time.

    Now Hindi film people always prided themselves on “looking west” i.e., Hollywood for their standard. Hence all the cutting remarks about how fat and ugly South Indian heroes and heroines are, and the comments nowadays, about some South star not being “Bollywood material.” Heck, even Sridevi was labelled “Thunder Thighs” when she started in Hindi films. And since we’re talking about the Bahubali women, Tamannah has said in several interviews that, when she went to act in Hindi films, she was told she must lose weight — at least five kilograms, or eleven pounds. Prabhas happened to be with her in one of these interviews, and exclaimed that they must be crazy, and Tamannah looked visibly relieved to get this kind of support. Because really, from where would a person as slim as Tamannah lose the weight? But she did it, and explained that that was why she was so tired when she first reported to the Bahubali sets, because she had just come from some Hindi film (possibly the atrocious Himmatwala) for which she had lost weight.

    The real push toward the unhealthy weight standards for women started when Indian women winning the “international” beauty pageant titles like Msis Universe and Miss World. Now no one could question the beauty of Aishwarya or Sushmita, but the later title holders from India kept going down and down in quality, to the point where even Indians were questioning how these women could ever win. And then they realized that it was all a plan to push western cosmetics onto the Indian population. But, to meet the standards of those pageants, women had to diet to unhealthy levels. And then it moved into Hindi films.

    You talk about women here, but it’s not as if the male actors in Hindi films are particularly healthy. Now they must all have a “toned” body, and you can see the steroids in every one of them. Is there any man aspiring to play the “hero” who actually has a flat chest? No, they all have puffed out breasts, and some times they are even bigger than the heroines’.

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    • The other euphemism I see all the time is “fit”. Parineeti got “fit”, Hrithik focused on his “fitness”. But then you think of Tamannah too weak to do stunts in Bahubali because she had no weight, and you realize it is the opposite of “fit”.

      I did a talk on Femina Miss India and Priyanka Chopra a few years back, and wrote a paper on it for my class on body images. There were a couple of really interesting studies by women who observed the actual process of the training camps. The contestants were fainting and weak, not allowed to meet their families, told to only trust the “professionals” around them, it was terrifying. The physical was part of it, but also the way they were taught to talk about their Indian identities, to dress, the kind of language to use, all centered on crafting a Western female ideal. And you can see that in film, the new actresses that entered in the 2000s from the beauty pageants, or imitating the beauty pageant look, have a different set of skills from earlier actresses, along with their different look.

      I’ll be interested to see how the current batch of male actors ages. Because the sort of punishing physical routines they are going through are the kind of thing that results in terrible health problems. Aamir’s weight loss and gain for Dangal, Salman’s constant body-building, Shahrukh’s sudden weightlosses for item songs, none of it is good. There’s all of this “wow! At age –, look at their body!” kind of coverage instead of “wow! At age –, this is very unhealthy!” Akshay is probably the one who is most actually fit, and (unless I am missing something) he doesn’t have six packs or anything like that, just a very strong frame. And Abhishek, with his softer body, is probably in better overall health than Hrithik.

      On Mon, Feb 26, 2018 at 7:28 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I saw a documentary about the pageant training process, and in addition to all that you mentioned, they were also injecting these girls with botox. Now these were 18 and 19 year old girls! With botox! It’s like these promoters just got hold of a new toy and want to use them on all and sundry with no understanding or discrimination.

        As for the “mental” preparation, of course we have Priyanka’s infamous gaffe in the final round of her Miss World pageant, where she was asked to name someone living who was her role model, and she said Mother Teresa, because that was the canned answer she was prepped with. They never expected that she would be asked to name a “living” role model, and Priyanka, despite her professed admiration, wasn’t award that Mother Teresa had died several years previously! And so it goes.

        I can’t remember if I’ve said it here before, but I hate the way all the current film directors play around with actors’ weights. I didn’t even like Prabhas and Rana being made to gain weight for BB. And the diets they were made to follow were extremely unhealthy, to say the least. SRK has never looked healthy to me since the time of Dard-E-Disco. Salman is an interesting case. So much of his star image and persona is about being in perfect physical shape that the least deviation is frowned on by the public. Ever since his health problems were diagnosed at the time of Bodyguard’s release (meaning, several years ago now), he is in fact not able to do the same physical regimen he used to maintain before. That is, the doctors expressly forbade him from doing some of the routines (also the reason why he relies on stunt doubles now). So he modified his routine, but he can’t maintain the same shape, and both fans and non-fans have commented unfavorably on his physique for the last few years. He really needs to find another career path.

        You’re right that Akshay is the only one who’s fit naturally — that is, he has a very disciplined life style to maintain his body — but he relies more on athletics, not drugs, and as a result looks much more attractive than all these gym boys.

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        • Salman is one where it’s started to physically hurt me to see him onscreen. Not during the action scenes (thank goodness they are working around him and using doubles there), but the dances. He clearly has large parts of his body that he just can’t move any more, his back in particular seems to have completely locked up. Which is not unheard of for a 52 year old man. But it makes me very aware of how much pain he must be in, all the time, while he is trying to work. And then I get taken out of the movie by sympathetic wincing. And it’s not that he can’t act any more, I just want him to play a role where all he has to do is walk around, sit down, and deliver dialogue. Similar to what Amitabh started doing when his health problems started.

          One thing about Akshay’s disciplined life style, he is truly “healthy” in all ways. It’s not just that he eats a reasonable diet and does push ups every night, he is also infamous for insisting on going to bed no later than 10pm, working short hours, taking vacations with his family, everything that a doctor means when they say “healthy lifestyle” rather than just the little bit that gym trainers mean. Minimal stress, enough sleep, healthy family life, and so on and so on. I don’t wince when I see him onscreen, it feels like he isn’t pushing himself to do anything more than he can handle. Heck, the role he did in Rustom would be perfect for Salman! Sit in a cell, give some speeches, walk down the street a few times, and that’s it.

          On Mon, Feb 26, 2018 at 8:19 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • By “different career path” for Salman, I didn’t mean he should stop acting, but just pick different roles and films than the action film streak he is currently on. However, he is convinced that that’s the only way his fans will accept him on screen, so no hope of any change in the near future.

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    • I so second the male “health” myth in Bollywood. At this moment, all our top actors are abusing steroids, going on crazy supplement diets and really straining their bodies way way too much than they should. And that too just for show.

      The Indian male ideal is close to Dara Singh – hairy, beefy, actually strong. BUT, we keep seeing the Hritik Roshan/Salman Khan ideal being pushed as the ideal to aspire to.

      You have to basically not eat indian food to get a Hrithik style body and Salman is all steroids!!

      When I first heard of Sridevi’s cardiac arrest my first thought was “did it have something to do with her recent sudden weight loss?” because she sure as hell didn’t achieve that with a workout. The next image that flashed in front of my eyes was SRK’s hollow, leathery cheeks post OSO. The thought scared me. It really did. People they age aren’t supposed to look 25. They just aren’t. Especially if they’re getting there through cheats.

      Look at Milind Soman. He is not just chiselled but also fit through activity. He did the iron man!! And then I look at boys like Vidyut and Tiger and their bodies make sense because they are active for it.

      We all saw Prabhas wrecking his lush physique gaining and losing weight for BB and then going nuts eating once he didn’t have to diet and now he looks ghastly with that forced weight loss. That’s how Sri looked.

      I think the problem is that Indian actresses want to be able to look good in western clothes. Which is driven by our fashion industry’s inability to work with Indian styles (our salwaar kameez fashions are inspired by Pakistani dramas and designers than our own!) which is due to the fact that they work with international looking models who look stupid in indian styles.

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      • Anil Kapoor is another one who seems to have aged well. He is still very graceful and active, but he’s not losing all his body fat just so he can take off a shirt. He’s probably a lot thinner than he would be if he weren’t an actor, he talks in interviews about his careful diet and so on, but without going so far as to be unhealthy. It is possible.

        Sunny Deol is another one, he had a natural youthful strong active body that aged into a larger and larger body as he aged and his metabolism shifted, without him trying extreme methods to fight against it.

        The thing is, even the international looking models aren’t healthy! Because international styles aren’t made for a woman’s body. It’s too bad that standard has begun to invade Indian fashion along with everything else.

        On Mon, Feb 26, 2018 at 9:05 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • I will throw in Mammooty also. It’s as if he’s on some elixir of perpetual youth. He was always known to maintain a healthy lifestyle & that shows at age 67. His is fit, active & his face glows with health so much so that it’s conceivable for the fans to have him play aged roles which he was comfortable doing in his younger years.

          Love the discussion going on here. Women in particular are also expected to get back to ‘shape’ within weeks of child birth. Aishwarya would have my respect forever for braving it all out & getting back to her prepregnancy body in her own time unlike a Kareena who seemed to be living in a gym post Taimur.

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          • And conversely, Mohanlal is one I am now concerned about! His recent extreme weight loss does not seem right.

            But you are right about Mammootty! In the most recent film I saw of him, Bhaskar the Rascal, he was playing a fit man of 40-50, and he looked like a fit man of 40-50. I wouldn’t believe he could take his shirt off and male model, but I could certainly believe he could still win a fight or toss his small son in the air.

            From the female side of things, Hema Malini is one who when I saw her in Baghban, I just did not believe she was 50. But she hasn’t gone through extreme weight loss or anything like that which I can see, it’s just dancing and healthy living. And she looks like a lovely mature woman of her age, if you look close. Waheeda Rahman too. And Helen. Lovely women who have naturally changed as they got older instead of fighting time.

            On Mon, Feb 26, 2018 at 10:06 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I want to second your point about “international” type of women who look terrible in Indian clothes. I used to think Indian clothes, especially the sari, made every kind of body look good. But no. Not the stick thin “international ideal” for women on whom, notice clothes “hang well.” (Every time I see that term, I want to say, if you want a coat rack, why are bothering with people?) So now I realize that Indian clothes make every kind of “real woman” (i.e., with the wide variety of body types and shapes that real women have) look good.

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        • One theory I heard, which makes sense to me, is that western style fashion is based on the assumption that women are wearing corsets or girdles or some other kind of hard structure underneath to support the fitted styles. And then when women stopped wearing those things, the models got very very skinny so that the skeleton itself became the structure. Actually, we should be asking joyomama this, she’s a fashion historian. Maybe she will come by and enlighten us.

          On Mon, Feb 26, 2018 at 10:43 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Are there any “fitted” styles now? Or perhaps the word is “tailored.” And the fabrics have also changed, so almost everything now is a weave, and clings to the body, again forcing women to have the “perfect” or “toned” body, or else look hideous. I mean, remember the women’s clothing styles in Hollywood films by Edith Head? Perhaps they demanded the kind of rigid undergarments you are talking about, but those costumes also looked like they could stand up by themselves. Nothing clingy about them.

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          • what I’ve discovered whenever I have tried to make myself or purchase a fitted style of the older designs (including actual 1940s styles, Vogue has reissued their old patterns which is SO COOL), is that they fit me fine about 1 day a week and not the rest. Women just aren’t built to be the same size every single day! I can wear knit shirts and jeans any day of the week because they adjust, but those non-adjustable clothes really need something to make up for the random body changes day by day.

            On Mon, Feb 26, 2018 at 11:00 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • The “International” look is really very abnormal. In the Indian context, the international look looks like malnourishment/starvation since those women are abnormally tall and broad boned than the average! It just looks dystopian!

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  4. A doctor said in a health show that fat on hands and on back is protective for women and not unhealthy.

    Used to be that in India, if you were thin, it was considered a sign of illness and not healthy.

    Common form of greeting a person whom we are meeting after a long time is to ask why they have reduced weight? Are they all right? You can see this kind of greetings in many movies too.

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    • It’s funny, in the West the status symbol of being thin almost makes sense. It used to be that being tall and “well-built” was considered desirable in a woman. And then food technology changed and suddenly foods that were high in fat and sugar and empty calories became cheaper. And at the same time sedentary work became the standard. So the people who could afford to take time off to enjoy physical fitness and buy the more expensive healthier foods became progressively thinner. So now moving around America, seeing someone thin and muscular triggers “rich” in my head, while seeing someone fuller figured with no muscles makes me think “poor”.

      But it seems like in India the reverse is still true, the poorer you are the more physical labor you have to do and the less you have to eat. So the idea that a fuller figure is desirable and a sign of status makes a lot more sense than thin and muscular. That feels like it is just borrowed from the West for no reason.

      On Mon, Feb 26, 2018 at 7:29 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I’m sorry, but in the urban areas at least, Indians are fully vested into the “you can never be too thin” ideal. In fact, they believe in it to the extent that they feel no compunction on commenting on total strangers’ weight. Ten years ago I was in India for several months. I had to take my car in for servicing, and when I went to pick it up, the owner came to explain what problems the car had, then started telling me about this wonderful weight loss product peddled by one of his relatives, which he was sure would help me. I almost felt like not paying the bill for the car service, I was so annoyed with him.

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          • Your comment reminds me that when it comes to a baby, the ‘plump’ look is preferred. No one cuddles a thin baby. But once you hit teens, all that baby fat is expected to evaporate and size zero is the ideal frame. I was struck by the drastic change in Khushi Kapoor who was such an adorable, plump child with chubby cheeks & suddenly she turned into this super-thin girl with a barely recognisable, long face.

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          • I have to admit that the one firm objective beauty standard I have is that babies should be fat. I want big cheeks and round arms and little tummies! I will accept a small overall size so long as body mass over all is still large.

            But once the baby gets to be about 2 years old, I am flexible. Any 2 year old is adorable, skinny or chubby or anything else. But younger than that, I want them to be nice and plump.

            On Tue, Feb 27, 2018 at 9:11 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. Just want to cosign on a comment above. In Indian English, when someone says you are “healthy”, they mean you are curvy, stocky, or plump. Not genuinely overweight or obese, but not slim or slender either. Depending on what region of India, the term “healthy” could be either a euphemism or a compliment, but it always means a mid-sized person.

    [To your point, though, both bolly and the Indian Internet has adopted the thinner is fitter mantra].

    Also depending on where you go in India, thin doesn’t have to mean malnourished. It’s just a de facto after effect of living in a hot climate in which you walk everywhere. An active non sedentary lifestyle that comes from nothing else than using walking or bicycle as your primary mode of transportation.

    Tying these two concepts together, so many women in India are extremely thin, with almost girl-like bodies (almost no breasts, buttocks, hips, thighs, or tummies) that curvy women really stand out and look healthy by comparison.

    Also cosign on health is on the inside. I know marathon runners with under 20% body fat who have cholesterol through the roof or high diabetes levels or high blood pressure or vitamin/mineral deficiencies. And I know plump ppl with higher BMIs but with ever single other number (cholesterol, diabetes, etc) within normal range.

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    • My grandmother remembers from when she was young, living in a farming area in America in the 1920s, being a “well-built” woman was a sign of status. Because the default for the farm women was thin and strong and hardworking. You had to be at a certain level to be inside all day instead of working in the fields and riding in wagons instead of walking and so on. Which from your description would also match with many places in India? I assume even in areas where most everyone of every class walked or bicycled, there would be the rare elite who had air conditioned cars?

      I’m thinking back to Reema Lagoo again. I remember people were upset and felt she was too young, but I don’t remember quite the same kind of “but, WHY?” reaction. And really there should have been. Or if not then, then why now? Two women who were both in their 50s, perfectly healthy (seemingly) and working full time and dying after no illness or anything else. But Reema Lagoo always looked more matronly so somehow it didn’t feel as “wrong”.

      On Mon, Feb 26, 2018 at 10:10 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • With Reema, there’s the added fact that she’s been playing mothers and aunties for so long that people might not realize how young she was.

        Yes I agree,
        Well Built matches the Indian English “Healthy”.

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      • While we’re talking mostly about the cosmetics of a healthy look, I want to add that urban India has become unlivable for anyone with a naturally active lifestyle. When I lived in shimla, I used to walk 5kms to town to walk more the entire day. College was 7-8 kms away on foot. Uni was around 9-10 kms away. That’s one side only. And we could make multiple trips on foot each day. But here in the plains, I can barely walk three kms without my lungs starting to hurt.

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        • That’s interesting. In America there’s talk about unwalkable cities and walkable cities but what it means is a lack of sidewalks and other features that make it easy for pedestrians versus cars. I know what you mean though, the first time I went to India I spent a whole day going back and forth in rickshaws, and the next day I felt so light headed and ill. And then I learned that if I was going to be in a rickshaw, I had to put my scarf over my mouth and nose the whole time.

          On Tue, Feb 27, 2018 at 12:40 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I don’t know who but there’s a quote by someone who said cities are made for cars not people. The more I think about that sicker it makes me. I’ve grown up in the mountains which meant you had to walk everywhere and you enjoyed it. It gave each city and town a unique character because people just have so much time to stop at strategic points to catch their breath and those points end up becoming the nukkads (Street corners that are a hub for gossip and catching up. Usually there are chai stalls, newsstands, sweet shops and pan-cigarette gumtis there) But for the brief periods that I’ve lived in the plains, I’ve seen these nukkads disappear or get taken over by cars and bikes as parking spots.

            There is hope though. Barcelona has started their superblock strategy to reclaim urban spaces for people. I so desperately hope for public spaces off limits to cars (that aren’t dedicated parks) to become fashionable again. And for public transport to become fashionable again too. Maybe that’ll happen sooner than later and not under anyone’s control if Dmitry Orlov’s views turn out to be true.

            In indian films, at least smaller budget hindi films, you see the romanticism of no-car public spaces re-emerge. The nukkads and gumtis and small town lanes are being featured more and more than the overwhelmingly industrial looking four lanes and “posh” places.

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          • Well, from the optimistic side of things, in America we are already seeing the good benefits of high gas prices. More and more people of my generation don’t have cars, or even know how to drive. Outside of the cities, it is still fairly impossible without a car (simple things like getting food, you would have to walk 5 miles there and back), but the city population is growing and growing partly because of the advantages of being able to walk places, or use good public transit. There still needs to be massive infrastructure investment in public transit and other solutions for the suburban places, but it feels like the peak is over and it is beginning to swing back to where we were as recently as the 1960s, when cars were still more of a luxury and most people walked or relied on public transit.

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        • In suburban America, no adult walks 3km total in even a whole week! Our cars really are our legs. An American movie called “L.A. Story” parodies this by showing people driving their cars to get their mail or visit their next door neighbor.

          Also, homeless people in India are malnourished and bone thin. In suburban America, homeless people are plump, misshapen, or overweight. As Margaret mentioned, this also comes from malnourishment but of a different kind – empty refined carbs from non perishable “food”.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. This is very relevant to my life and my work. Thanks for talking about it! I work in international nutrition and I hate it when I hear my colleagues fat shaming the families and communities we work with. We in the Global North need to stop exporting our unhealthy relationship to food and our bodies, AND the multi-billion dollar diet industry, to the rest of the world. Here’s a relevant youtube video posted on Twitter today by a well-known Health At Every Size (HAES) medical practitioner:

    Liked by 1 person

    • I notice weight mostly as a “class” signifier now in America. The thinnest most body ideal looking people I know are also the richest most upperclass people I know. It seems like it is partly because rich people just have access to more options to look that way (can afford healthier food, gym memberships, etc.) but there is also a pressure of “don’t get fat because it’s lowclass”. I mean, you wouldn’t actually say that, but it is in the background. There’s a certain body type that means you are a certain class, just like there is a certain way of dressing, of doing make-up, of hair, and so on and so forth.

      On Tue, Feb 27, 2018 at 10:11 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

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        • I think it’s getting there, but only in a weird half the country (or less) kind of way. There’s still areas (I suspect) where the look of people who have to walk everywhere is lower class than the look of people who have cars.

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        • Yep! And it really feels like it is skin tone in India which has a similar melange of prejudices as part of it, I don’t know why all the focus is on weight all of a sudden. I mean, Tamannah had a nice full figure in Bahubali, but was also sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo white, which is probably something someone should be talking about. Not me, because it’s not my area, but someone.

          On Tue, Feb 27, 2018 at 11:28 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

          >

          Liked by 1 person

          • But Tamannah is naturally that color. It would only be a problem if she was taking some supplements (like Kajol) or some cream (like SRK and many others) or was manipulated that way in post production “color correction” (like Kajol in Dilwale, or SRK & Deepika in CE).

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          • I’m thinking of putting up a post just to discuss this issue. It’s not directly related to anything, but so much of the weight conversation here can be translated into skin tone. And I feel like that is a much more important conversation to have in terms of Indian popular culture.

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    • oh no no no. I stay away from weight related topics everywhere because of how controversial they can end up being. But this HAES thing is awful, awful, awful. Linda Bacon is not a doctor and no doctor would advocate the things she says. Being overweight does increase risks for lots of diseases and makes them worse if you already have them. That’s not to say anyone needs to sit in the gym all day or have visible muscles especially if it involves using dangerous things like steroids.

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      • I didn’t say she’s a doctor. She is a health care practitioner, in allied medical fields–she mentions her degrees and clinical experience in the video. Your reaction seems quite emotional to me. Overweight and obesity is correlated with many conditions. Correlation isn’t causation. And even if causal links were clear between overweight and obesity and conditions like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc, there is literally no behavioral weight loss intervention that is effective in the long term for more than a tiny percentage of people. Many interventions will help people lose weight, and the vast majority will gain it all back and more after a couple of years. And weight loss surgery comes with it’s own set of risks and side effects–like malnutrition and lifelong fecal incontinence. Here’s the Cochrane review website for treatment of overweight and obesity. Feel free to correct me if you see any actual evidence for long term effectiveness here.

        http://www.cochranelibrary.com/app/content/special-collections/article/?doi=10.1002/(ISSN)14651858(CAT)na(VI)SC000026

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        • People end up gaining weight again because they see diets as a short term thing to shed weight instead of a lifestyle change. Consuming less calories than you burn will always result in weight reduction. If you maintain your daily caloric limit, you won’t gain weight. How much will power a person has for that depends on the individual. Weight loss will almost always reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and bring diseases like diabetes more in control. And there are the purely physical issues like the strain that extra weight causes on your knees and other body parts. A younger overweight person may feel healthy but this will not last forever as the side effects will start piling up with age. There is a loss in energy, knee and foot problems, and lots of increased risks for many other issues.

          Look, there might be the occasional 70 year old overweight person who is doing okay and “healthy” but there are a lot more who are worse off. It reduces the quality of life in so many ways.

          This HAES thing is one of the most dangerous things I’ve seen in recent years. Bacon is selling a “feel good’ potion to the masses in America who can then throw up their hands that nothing can be done about their weight and nobody can maintain it and so they should just eat/do whatever they feel like. This is the last thing that a country that is facing such an obesity crisis needs.

          Being thin doesn’t automatically make anyone healthy but being overweight does increase unnecessary risks.

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          • And as queen of the blog, I am now shutting down this discussion! You have both very clearly stated your positions, I don’t believe there is anything productive to add to it.

            Now you can hop over to the new post on skin tone and start a new discussion there on an equally complex issue 🙂

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          • This statement is a dangerous falsehood: “Consuming less calories than you burn will always result in weight reduction. If you maintain your daily caloric limit, you won’t gain weight.” Simply not true. The body processes different types of ingredients differently, and factors like stress levels, genetics, health history, and hormone levels all impact digestive processes like sugar processing and fat storage or burning.

            Let me know if you’d like to have a conversation based on evidence sometime. Based on how quickly you responded I can tell that you didn’t look at any of the robust evidence I sent.

            Have a good day!

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      • Also, I have no idea what definition of HAES you are using. The one I’m using, which health care professionals, including doctors, use, is the idea that health measures should look at functionality–blood sugar levels, cholesteral, heart and lung function–not appearance (e.g. BMI). This is based on robust evidence that healthy behaviors like eating well and regular exercise improves health and reduces mortality risk for everyone, regardless of BMI. Here’s an abstract for one article for example:

        Healthy Lifestyle Habits and Mortality in
        Overweight and Obese Individuals
        Eric M. Matheson, MS, MD, Dana E. King, MS, MD, and Charles J. Everett, PhD

        Background: Though the benefits of healthy lifestyle choices are well-established among the general population, less is known about how developing and adhering to healthy lifestyle habits benefits obese versus normal weight or overweight individuals. The purpose of this study was to determine the association between healthy lifestyle habits (eating 5 or more fruits and vegetables daily, exercising regularly, consuming alcohol in moderation, and not smoking) and mortality in a large, population-based sample stratified by body mass index (BMI).

        Methods: We examined the association between healthy lifestyle habits and mortality in a sample of 11,761 men and women from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III; subjects were ages 21 and older and fell at various points along the BMI scale, from normal weight to obese. Subjects were enrolled between October 1988 and October 1994 and were followed for an average of 170
        months.

        Results: After multivariable adjustment for age, sex, race, education, and marital status, the hazard ratios (95% CIs) for all-cause mortality for individuals who adhered to 0, 1, 2, or 3 healthy habits were 3.27 (2.36–4.54), 2.59 (2.06 –3.25), 1.74 (1.51–2.02), and 1.29 (1.09 –1.53), respectively, relative to
        individuals who adhered to all 4 healthy habits. When stratified into normal weight, overweight, and obese groups, all groups benefited from the adoption of healthy habits, with the greatest benefit seen within the obese group.

        Conclusions: Healthy lifestyle habits are associated with a significant decrease in mortality regardless of baseline body mass index. (J Am Board Fam Med 2012;25:9 –15.)

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  7. I regret that I’m not able to read all the comments (simply lack of time), but I want to let you know that I like the way you get to a VERY important point through Sridevi’s death.

    …and there is something I always have loved when it comes to ShahRukh and his behaviour towards (female) fans: I got and get the feeling that he looks for other things than body-shape (maybe also a value instilled by his mother who was an Indian beauty in whatever body-shape she was).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll flip your last comment around, I feel like the way Shahrukh plays love scenes and love stories in general is with a combination of “I am falling in love with your soul and personality” and “I am super attracted to your body”. But it is always both, not just one or the other. And it is certainly not related to a particular body type, or style of appearance, or any of that. I’m thinking of, for instance, the choice in K3G to put in Shahrukh falling for Kajol while she was doing Bhangra, in an extremely modest Salwar, and falling more for her through their cross talk conversation. And separate from that, the sexy moments they had together. Really, that was the entire story of JHMS, Shahrukh’s character working through his feelings for Anushka and separating the lust from the love.

      I don’t know if you saw, but I finally watched the HARDtalk interview, which was just ridiculous, partly because she was trying to get Shahrukh to claim responsibility for turning heroines into sex objects, which is just so completely NOT what his films do or have ever done. Not saying they are perfect, but that one particular area is just not how his love stories work, and that is part of why he has found such a huge following among female fans. And he is smart enough to know that and keep it up.

      I expect Sridevi’s final appearance onscreen (to bring this back to the point) to follow a similar pattern. It sounds as though she will be one of many famous actresses doing cameos, similar to OSO. And, like OSO, I expect Shahrukh to play it as though they are all beautiful and wonderful equally.

      On Tue, Feb 27, 2018 at 12:20 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Liked by 1 person

  8. nice article .You’ve no idea how here the news channels are covering her death.oh my god.Just running the same thing over and over again.Just because she never drank hard liquor in front of everyone doesn’t mean she never did.
    The elite crowd is so immersed in hypocrisy that you can actually understand why she never drank in front of them.Judging people by their looks ,by what they like,..oh and the skinny look?How can anyone say skinny is healthy?How you maintain yourself within defines your health.
    And the crowd outside their house that is just going to end up in creating unnecessary traffic which means if in that area somebody actually ended up having a heart attack they wont be able to make it to the hospital on time that’s for sure

    Like

    • And in the same way, you can’t say skinny is unhealthy. The news I am seeing seems to veer wildly between “how could she die, there must be something more, she was so ‘healthy’ (meaning youthful looking)” Or alternatively, “of course she died, she was so skinny, she must have been unhealthy”. While if it was a random accident, then it was unrelated to anything. If it was a heart attack, then there could have been a variety of factors which only a doctor could determine and might not be visible. And if it was related to alcohol, that’s the most invisible disease of all.

      I just feel like the entire appearance part should be removed from the conversation. At least, this conversation. Dying of anorexia complications or plastic surgery or something, then yes.

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      • yaa totally agree with you but I’m not talking about appearance either nor am i saying being skinny is unhealthy .I’m talking about people’s perspective well at least the ones that come on the idiot box.
        For the past 3 days they would bring in some idiot(who might’ve known/seen her from near/far)they would say “she was so fit I’m so shocked .there is definitely something more to it”.
        How ?how can anyone rate somebody’s health just by looking at them?What logic is it?God knows how much pain she must’ve put her body through to look that way.
        The truth is we don’t know whether she was in perfect health or not.It’s a good thing the Dubai police kept the media out of it else they would’ve twisted and turned the entire situation.

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        • Really the only way to end it would be for her doctor to come out and give her medical history, but I certainly don’t think he should have to! Best to just assume that her death was not seriously unexpected if the Dubai police have closed the investigation.

          On Tue, Feb 27, 2018 at 2:25 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • yaa i wish the same.Also judging by the details i strongly believe her death was an unfortunate incident if only the media and “the elite” would accept it.You know of all the people in her family i feel bad for Arjun Kapoor.He has always been candid about how he feels about her.
            So the minute he arrived they had their cameras up his face and even when he left for Dubai to get his dad they were taking close-ups of his face.You could actually see his frustration.
            I can’t even imagine the pressure Jhanvi will be put through when her movie releases.

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          • Poor Jhanvi and Khushi. They are going to spend the rest of their lives under the shadow of their mother. At least someone like Abhishek, or Hema’s daughters, had time to grow into his own position in the world and make his own way, but Jhanvi and Khushi will always be just “Sridevi’s daughters” no matter where they go or what they do.

            On Tue, Feb 27, 2018 at 2:53 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

            >

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  9. Pingback: Discussion Post: Skin Tone in India! Discuss and Educate Us! | dontcallitbollywood

  10. well nobody can be better than their parents but that doesn’t mean they will be bad .Everyone is distinct in their own way .But yaa you are right they’l live in their mom’s shadow not because they want to but because they’l be made to stay there even if they enter films and may give a better performance than the actors belonging to their generation .In fact that constant comparison will always be made at anything they do.

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    • Exactly. And a constant responsibility. Even if they marry and move overseas, the media will still want them to comment on every death anniversary, be present at every tribute, and so on and so forth.

      On Tue, Feb 27, 2018 at 3:17 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • i agree. The media has become so predictable .Why do they do that?I highly doubt anyone even wants to see that.Why should the children be burdened with such kind of a responsibility?it’s actually sad.

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  11. Pingback: Another Youtube Video! On Sridevi | dontcallitbollywood

  12. but her death is a loss..we wont get to see her in new movies in the future..and yaa i agree we don’t know the actors personally to feel sad over their death but come on a death of a talented actor/actress is a loss for the audience..btw i did end up watching Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja the other day..wow that movie is so early 90s..a diamond heist..comments like the female lead is only beautiful and cunning and what a weak story..but she was so fun to watch and that is what makes me sad we wont get to see that in upcoming movies in the future.of course the sadness is nothing compared to what her family is going through that is for sure

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  13. There was this twitter post from Rujuta Diwekar where she said a woman should dump a man who tells her to lose inches around her waist…I wonder who she was hinting towards in the aftermath of what happened…
    I read at the time of Boney Kapoor’s first wife’s death there were some articles doing the rounds about how Mona Kapoor used to feel helpless and inadequate when her husband left her and she also felt she had no value because she used to be an overweight lady those days. Was Sridevi’s obsession with her looks out of fear that her husband would leave her the way he left his first wife? So if cosmetic surgery is to be blamed for what happened, can we say the villain wasn’t Sridevi but her husband.

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    • Interesting thoughts, but there are a lot of assumptions there. First that cosmetic surgery is to be blamed. Second that Boney Kapoor left his first wife purely because she gained weight. Third that Sridevi feared the same thing would happen to her.

      Generally body issues with women have less to do with a particular person in their life than with an over all social message of what is the right way to look and be and so on. As a public figure, I am sure Sridevi received many of those messages.

      On Thu, Mar 1, 2018 at 7:35 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  14. These are assumptions but I am going by Rujuta Diwekar who knows the industry and its weight obsession to a considerable degree. The story about BK leaving his wife coz she was overweight may not entirely be the truth but there are articles on the net doing the rounds about her feeling inadequate coz she believed she was fat and therefore unattractive and Sridevi was the opposite. Also regarding Sridevi’s cosmetic surgery, it may not have led to her death but it’s one of the showbiz world’s best known secrets. However was she aware that she was abusing her body and moreover did her husband have no control over it? And this is where the story about her husband leaving his 1st wife comes in…

    Like

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