Ramona and I talked further about the question of beauty ideals in India, especially for women, as well as the attitude that people have towards these ideals and their body.
On one hand, the idea of how thin a beautiful woman is, is definitely different here in India than in the west. In India, the models we usually get to see on posters as well as the actresses we get to see in movies usually weigh some more kilos than the ones in the west. Size zero was and is not as popular here as there. I believe that this has something to do with the fact that we actually have people dying of hunger. The general Indian will associate an extremely thin body with poverty, not with beauty.
In the same way, having a few kilos more than the average is considered as good in India. That’s how, when we once visited friends whom we had not seen for a while, the lady told Ramona ‘You look healthy!’ with a smile. What she meant was that Ramona had gained weight since she had last seen her – and it was a compliment made sincerely! I explained that to Ramona later, as in that moment, she had just been slightly confused for having been complimented on looking to be of good health. She had to laugh and now always tells our non-Indian friends that she’s not really keen of looking ‘healthy’!
So that is the difference in how women see a figure in India. On the other hand however, they do talk about it in very similar ways as out of India, too! There you have women discussing their weight and ideas on how to lose weight fast, shows on TV where the female characters try to go on diet and finally lots of products and charlatanry trying to sell pills that make you slim in a very limited amount of days.
You can see and hear both in India – but while those who are happy in being big get bigger and bigger, those who wish to be slim and fit know only one way to achieve it: go on a diet and be hungry for most of your day. Obviously, that is not the right and best solution but it is the sad truth that there are little to no fitness offers for women in India! It obviously depends on where you are, as you can easily find a gym for women in Delhi or Mumbai – but once you are out of the mega cities, it gets difficult! Colleges and universities offer sports but for adults, working women, housewives and those who simply don’t attend these schools, there is nothing! No place where they could learn exercises, no place where they could meet and work out in a group!
There is even no awareness about exercises during pregnancy or after birth. That’s another reason for women to look pregnant although they are not – after five children and with no exercise for your belly muscles, your belly won’t look flat anymore! No complaining or dieting will help here, you would need to exercise!
Of course, yoga is one option which you can easily do at home with little equipment and space. You can use help like our online yoga posture directory.
In the end however, in order to help people in India to be fit and healthy instead of oversize or undersize, India would need to first of all create awareness and the possibility for women to work out. It might change the image that people have of themselves – and maybe improve it one day!