If you think women actors being asked to lose weight for the sake of it and obviously to cater to unrealistic beauty standards is a thing of the past, you might be wrong. Actor Rakul Preet Singh recently opened up about how she was made to gain weight to look desirable in the South Indian film industry and how she was forced to lose weight for a Luv Ranjan film.
In an acting profession, presentation matters but at what cost? Who are the directors catering to? Is it not objectification of women if they are asked to build a certain body for a certain target audience? These are the questions that are bound to pop up after Singh reveals the toxicity of two separate film industries.
During a chat show with Shilpa Shetty, she was asked about her experience of working in the south. Singh said, “When I debuted, Samantha (Ruth Prabhu) and Kajal (Aggarwal) were already stars, and they were fit. I think people became conscious about how they look on the screen because the content was being consumed everywhere.” Although, she did have to increase her weight as people would call her “stick”.
Rakul Preet Singh Weightloss
But when Singh came to Mumbai for her debut in the Hindi film industry, she encountered another bias. Losing weight was in the memo here. “…started auditioning at the age of 20, I was told that I will have to lose weight because that was the standard for Bombay,” she said. For Luv Ranjan’s De De Pyar De, in which she starred alongside Ajay Devgn, she was asked to lose 10 kilograms in 50 days.
It seems Bollywood seems fit to pair double the age male actor with a young woman actor who is also skinny. What kind of logic and creative licence is this? Moreover, what is the Bombay standard? Are the beauty standards different across India and are women responsible to look according to that?
This is problematic because, in all the talk about weight by Singh, one thing is clear is that she was constantly asked to look a certain way to please the crowd. She was essentially being told to be part of the larger facade in the name of acting. As an actor, she needs to have the skills to act. Why do people care if her waistline is 34 or 24?
As a society, we are obsessed with one activity and that is to objectify women. Think of, the majority of the beauty standards for women are structured in a manner to please men and to soothe their eyes. Can we stop thinking of women as mere sexual objects and consider them humans with blood and flesh?
The film industry has been of no help either. The gatekeepers of this industry did have the power to change the way how people see women and their bodies but did we? Did directors take the effort to stop portraying women in accordance with the beauty standards prevalent of the time? Did they not give so many women across India body image issues? This madness on how women look and weigh needs to stop. One can only hope that women become so aware that the filmmakers and creators have to discard their prejudices about women’s bodies.
Views expressed are the author’s own.