Miss Nepal 2023 Jane Dipika Garrett is making news as the first plus-size entrant in the Miss Universe 2023 beauty pageant. She is 5’7” tall and weighs 80 Kgs, and her entry to the top 20 finalists has sparked the inspiring idea worldwide that beauty standards are dynamic
The success of Miss Nepal 2023 has inspired us to celebrate those icons who have redefined the meaning of beauty
Miss Nepal 2023 Jane Dipika Garrett is making news as the first plus-size entrant in the Miss Universe 2023 beauty pageant. She is 5’7” tall and weighs 80 Kgs, and her entry to the top 20 finalists has sparked the inspiring idea worldwide that beauty standards are dynamic and that all shapes and sizes of the human body should be celebrated. While 90 countries participated in Miss Universe this year, and her success is a significant milestone, we can’t help but contemplate over terms like “plus-size” and “curvy”, which have made the headlines. As polite as their purpose may be, a term like “plus-size” and curvy imply “out of the ordinary ”. In practical usage, it implies “abnormal”. Most apparel stores rarely stock plus sizes; there are separate stores catering to plus sizes. These terms are specific labels on a person due to the shape and size of their body.
Many biological factors, like hormonal imbalance and bone structure, impact one’s body mass. Therefore, categorising a person by how they look implies the pressure to look a certain, popularly accepted way. The pressure reflects on how obsessively counting one’s weight and calorie intake is considered normal behaviour in our society. Right from infanthood, society conditions us on the right and the wrong way to look. For some reason, we look up to the media to reinforce the conditioned idea of perfection. It’s a vicious cycle, one that we think is fed through one’s unhealthy relationship with oneself. So, let’s look at some women who have been in the public eye, and have chosen to keep it real and have nonchalantly maintained their own beauty standards.
Five iconic women who broke stereotypes & successfully maintained their own beauty standards
Known for her roles in Bollywood blockbusters like Baazigar (1993), DDLJ (1995) and KKHH (1998), Kajol has donned her signature unibrow throughout her career. In an industry that thrives on women meeting the conventional beauty standards, Kajol carved a league of her own in spite of a dusky complexion, and frizzy hair. Loved for her candour, strong mind and hearty laugh in interviews, she was once quoted in a Times of India interview in 2012 saying “everyone has the right to their lives and to look the way they want to! Tomorrow I can put on 25 kilos…it’s my choice, my body!”
Often seen making jokes on herself, her own team did not support her decision to eat well and lose weight, as it would affect her public image of the “fat, funny girl” that was formed with her work in Hollywood comedies like Pitch Perfect (2012), and Bridesmaids (2011). When the pandemic hit, Rebel went on a fitness regime with her doctor’s advice, to experience motherhood as well as to take care of her body by eating healthy. After losing about 34 pounds, Rebel once posted on her IG about gaining 3 Kgs during a holiday saying “if you’re like me, just know YOU are more than just your weight, your weight doesn’t define you, just try your best to be healthy and don’t be so hard on yourself. Be the best version of yourself.”
Popular for her party hits like “Don’t stop the music”, Rihanna is also considered a fashion icon. She has launched her own fashion lines, and has also teamed up with the likes of Armani, Puma and Dior. Rihanna is known as the fashion mogul for her unique, fearless style quotient, variable from casual chic to avant-garde. She carried her legacy into her recent pregnancy by sporting her baby bump in comfortable clothing like bralettes and joggers. She was quoted in an interview to People magazine, saying “I’m enjoying not having to worry about covering my tummy. We found love. If I feel a little chubby, it’s like, whatever! “It’s a baby!”
She is regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time, and yet, has not been spared by body-shaming. On multiple occasions eminent personalities have commented on her body structure as “too muscular” and “too masculine”. In 2014, the president of the Russian Tennis Federation referred to the 23-time Grand Slam Champion and her sister as the “Williams brothers”. Unshaken by such vile and hurtful comments, Serena Williams, who started her career in 1995 at the age of 15, has consistently been known for her unusual outfits on the court, been on the cover of Vogue, and has launched her own lines of athletic and sustainable clothing. In an interview to Self, she was quoted saying, “I am who I am. I love who I am. Just that whole attitude of being strong and powerful—that’s something I can get behind.”
Bollywood actress Vidya Balan has often talked about how people have intruded her boundaries since childhood, asking rude questions about her weight and fat-shaming her, even calling her lazy for not being slim enough to meet the conventional Bollywood actress stereotype. The actress who has been applauded for her outstanding career choices, had for a long period of time succumbed to the pressure, hated her body, starved herself, and suffered the consequences of hormonal imbalance, until she realised she was harming herself more than benefitting from setting unrealistic goals. “People would insinuate that you must be eating unhealthy or that you’re lazy. And these things stick with you. It would anger me no end. I kept wanting people to stop judging me. But over time, I realised people judge you/your body only if you do”, she told Hindustan Times. Now the lady has found a good place where she eats a balanced diet, sleeps well and works out with a focus on staying healthy instead of losing weight, and seems to have renewed that glow of hers.
Adriene Mishler, co-founder and teacher of Yoga with Adriene, changed the perception of yoga from boring to “an experience”. Backed by the motto “find what feels good,” the Yoga with Adriene library has more than 600 classes, out of which barely 5 focus on weight loss. Yoga with Adriene is one of the 1000 most subscribed youtube channel, with men, women and children, of all body shapes and weights showing up regularly on the mat to practise yoga with Adriene, simply because she encourages to approach fitness with a sense of self-care, self-love, and most importantly, to embrace the present, where you are, as you are. She is often heard saying in her uniquely designed classes “The awesome in me recognises the awesome in you.”