Flix Sunday, June 07, 2015 - 05:30
  The untimely death of a once popular actor who was struggling to return to the limelight became headlines on Saturday. As more information emerges, it appears that she became a victim of an ideal of beauty. Thirty-one-year-old Telugu actor Aarthi Agarwal reportedly died due to complications after a liposuction surgery. Her death and its connection to liposuction has suddenly opened the door for debates, discussions and articles in the local media – both Telugu and English – with various media outlets roping in experts and doctors to discuss the procedure. A report in the Deccan Chronicle, talks about how Aarthi's death could have been caused by a rare case of fat embolism that occurred after her liposuction and which in turn blocked her heart. The report then goes on to explain liposuction and its possible complications. Other reports in local newspapers and websites also discussed liposuction at length, mostly in an alarming tone.  In a panel discussion on Telugu channel TV9, a plastic surgeon named Srinivas Swaroop spoke of the medical procedure. Around one-and-a-half minutes into the show, the anchor and doctor actually share a "joke" about how fat Aarthi was.  The doctor is heard saying that this could have been the third or fourth time she went under the knife. The anchor’s response saying “but she was never thin and she has only been growing fatter” is met with a chuckle by the doctor. Meanwhile the visual on the split screen zooms in and out of Aarthi's pictures. Later, the show talks at length about the process, costs and dangers of the procedure. It is not easy to brush off the chuckle as a harmless joke given that it reinforces the stereotype of a "slim figure" as good looking. What all the media discussions with doctors, directors and producers have failed to show is that Aarthi may have been another young actor who succumbed to the pressure of the fashion industry where being slightly overweight is looked down upon. According to a report in The Hindu, Aarthi Agarwal was first turned away by a Hyderabad-based plastic and cosmetic surgeon who told her that she would not benefit from liposuction because she hardly had any fat under her skin. Aarthi was clearly depressed. She had reportedly attempted suicide in 2005 and had a failed marriage two years later, and had no support. In fact, she was shunned by the industry by not getting a single movie offer in 2007. It’s a classic case of the media having missing the woods for the trees. The immense pressure to fit the industry’s standards of good looks may have driven Aarthi to get a fourth liposuction surgery, which eventually claimed her life. So should the media be talking about a surgical procedure or the circumstances that made a woman actor think it was necessary for her to use the procedure so she could get thinner and thinner, and hence “more beautiful”?  

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