So much attention to the size of an actress’s stomach shows we're far from accepting women’s bodies for what they are

So Aishwarya Rai wore purple lipstick and had a bit of tummy Why all the brouhahaPTI
news Celebrity Watching Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - 16:26

It’s happening to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan again. The actress, who grabbed attention around the world as “the most beautiful woman in the world” is being trolled for her appearance at Cannes, not for one, but two outfit choices. The more explosive reaction on social media and from news outlets was to her bright purple lipstick.

But already the day before, a frenzy had resulted from photographs of Aishwarya Rai that showed a slightly bulging stomach.

Aishwarya Rai reportedly shrugged off this unwanted attention, saying, “I am an actor by my career choice. I enjoy fashion and I treat it like art and I have a life, a family. So, I am not focusing on all of this. So it (look) doesn’t stress me out... It doesn’t get me nervous… I am a professional.”

It is of course reasonable to agree or disagree with fashion choices such as purple lipstick. And the Twitterati had some fun with it.

Of course, the media were quite eager in jumping onto the bandwagon, with one report observing “the sheer irony of it all, one of the world’s most beautiful women with access to the world’s best designers keeps getting it wrong at least fifty per cent of the time on the red carpet.”

The article also had much to say on a golden-brown long jacket ensemble, which it described as “clunky in look and cluttered in pattern—not great for her body type.”

Things did stretch from curious to borderline ridiculous when the purple lips became the matter of “weighty” news discussions, that quoted designers saying such things as, “It was like a beauty brand launched a new lip colour called The Kiss of Oompa Loompa. It was 50 shades of wrong in one shade…”

More problematic, though, were the number of rumours sparked off by Aishwarya’s appearance in an Ali Younes couture gown, which displayed a slightly bulging belly. Within a few hours of her appearance on the red carpet in the outfit, fueled by a minor social media stir, a number of news outlets began carrying articles titled some variation of, Is Aishwarya Rai Bachchan pregnant with her second child? Here’s the truth.

Others criticised the choice of outfit, arguing that, “When something makes you look bigger in size and hugs your curves in a not-so flattering way, it’s always a problem. Neither did the cape fall on her shoulders like it should have.”

While most media outlets fell over themselves to assure their readers or viewers that they considered Aishwarya Rai gorgeous and only found the outfit problematic for its bad fit, there is the fact that Aishwarya Rai was previously shamed for putting on too much weight while pregnant.

And while some might find it heartening to see more pregnant women flaunting their bodies in public, what is most problematic about all the media attention paid to Aishwarya Rai’s belly is that the only reason for women to show “less than perfect” bodies in public is if they are pregnant.

That women could simply be carrying more weight than allowed by mythical standards of perfect bodies, and that so much microscopic attention should be paid to the size of an actress’s stomach, shows that we are far from accepting women’s bodies for what they are.   

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