Social media has been abuzz with conversations around body positivity and stopping body shaming, following a post from Dr Tanaya Narendra aka Dr Cuterus — popular among millennials for her informative posts about sexual health, sex myths and more. She shared a beautiful picture from her recent wedding and wrote a long note highlighting how brides are often body-shamed by friends, families and even bridal stores, naming one of India’s most-respected couturiers, designer Tarun Tahiliani’s Ambawatta outlet.
This post has now begun a conversation demanding accountability from the fashion industry.
Talking about the demonising of flab and stretch marks by the fashion industry and media for financial gain, the body literacy advocate says, “The media has always published images of the fittest of celebrities. They have in fact highlighted people for having flab on their arms or a stretch mark on their stomach. People need to understand that all sorts of body shapes are normal and accept their own body.” She went on to stress that “Promoting body positivity is not promoting obesity. It is important that we understand our body and not let anyone reduce one’s value to just one’s body. People are so much more than their body; they have personality and talent.”
Echoing her, Savleen Kaur Manchanda, celebrity make-up artiste, says, “Beauty these days is all-inclusive, as it should be — all races, all sexes, all ages, everything is beautiful. And that’s the kind of world I believe in and strive for. I am from a generation where body positivity wasn’t the trend; but I feel it starts from within. Stop hating your body, change your attitude towards your body, which has been there for you, and things will start falling in place. No one can tell you how you’re supposed to look.”
According to Nitasha Gaurav, celebrity stylist, designer stores have always had limited size options. “Fashion has always been catering to a certain body size. It is time that people realize that 90% of their clientele don’t fall into that category and it is time for change,” she says. She also points out that designers charge extra for plus size clothing, saying more material is used. “Will they charge less for someone who is extra thin? No, right?” says Nitasha, adding, a discussion about this last year prompted designers like Gauri and Nainika to do away with the extra cost for ‘extra inches’.
For generations, stereotypical representations have defined and set standards in the fashion landscape. However, with social media being a powerful democratic tool today, millennials have helped widen the rigid mindset for fashion that people often feel pressured to match, making it a lot more inclusive, real and relatable, share Shivan Bhatiya, Head Designer, and Narresh Kukreja, Creative Director at Shivan & Narresh. “Body positivity instils in people the confidence to accept and embrace their natural self that extends beyond the societal notion of ‘fitting in’. Given the times we are in, it is even more imperative for us to be collective pioneers of what Inclusivity stands for, and educate people to appreciate natural beauty without any fear of judgement,” they say. “Inclusivity today is more than just additional sizes on a store rack — it is a holistic approach towards creating a level playing field, one that ensures style is never restricted by lack of choice or size limitation,” they clarify.
Voices from the industry:
“To judge others on the basis of their size is alien to us as a design house. Every shape, size, personality and lifestyle is celebrated. This is a core belief we are committed to. Our work and clients are testament to this. Body-shaming has no place in our world. We must adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards it as an industry and more importantly, as a society.”
— Saudamini Mattu, CEO, Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla
“I believe clarity of expectations is important between the client and the designer. No brand would slight their clients on purpose. At the end of the day, as designers, we want to make people happy. As a brand we do a lot of customisation. Mostly we don’t charge anything extra for customisation unless there’s some drastic change.
— Nachiket Barve, Fashion and costume designer
“Rude behaviour has no place in a civilised society. However, I must say that retail staff are sometimes also at the receiving end of unwarranted behaviour, so it must apply on both sides and absolutely should not be tolerated.”
— Pankaj Ahuja, Owner/Designer, Pankaj & Nidhi