In Defence of Aishwarya


In Defence of Aishwarya

Isn’t it time to let one of the most beautiful women choose how she wants to look?

Aishwarya Bashing (Large) is the new version of an old spectator sport. Ever since the former Miss World — a ravishing model and film star — known as one of the most beautiful women in the world, put on weight after the birth of her daughter in November, a sniggering fest has been unleashed on her. Unkind videos on YouTube with the word “fat” writ large in their titles, shlocky blog posts that label her as “aunty” and debate about the size of her face, tweets that trend with her photos every time she steps out for a social do and sections of the media chiding her for not looking like Angelina Jolie or Lara Dutta (post their respective childbirths), have become everyday fare.

Aishwarya Bashing (Lite) has been an ongoing obsession with bloggers, glamour and fashion hacks or whoever had a quick opinion. Taking potshots at her Cannes red carpet appearances were reason for annual laughter riots back home. She was easy game through the many years of her stardom (which still endures) — sometimes for very good reasons while at other times, for no obvious reason at all — until a social anthropologist tells us why. All the time, her critics called her fake, plastic, too photoshopped and too unreal.

But now that she looks like most “real” women would after having a baby, we still want to ridicule her. Few would have the gutsy attitude to step out as she does, knowing too well that she is the subject of intense public scrutiny. Yet, she has made a clear choice. This is also where the beauty of this beautiful woman seems to be finding its character. Recent motherhood at a mature age, pre or post-pregnancy body and health challenges, dietary changes — what do we know of the reasons behind her weight gain anyway? Yet, what we do know but are willing to ignore is that the glamour industry is walking two contrary paths. It can hardly claim to have turned into a more sensitive space, less tolerant of the tyrannies of commercial ideas of body and beauty, sponsor shows with themes of “women’s rights”, give quotes about “inner beauty being more important”, shoot calendars celebrating “real women”, argue in favour of plus-sized fashion and then slam Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan for looking fat.