As a first-time mother of a 6-week-old, it is no news when I say how sleep and time are my most precious commodities. Yet, every day, I choose to spend my free waking hours working vigorously to shed those extra pounds and searching for the best shapewear options available that can give me the illusion of a perfect body while I am at it. Honestly, I want to stop caring but every ‘friend’, ‘family’ and acquaintance I meet, in their politest but most condescending tone, never forget to remind me of those few happy pounds that I have gained. Despite repeated reminders from my doctor who tells me that I have gone through a major abdominal surgery and I need to let the body take its time, images of Kate Middleton looking absolutely dashing 24hrs after her delivery flash before my eyes reiterating that at 6 weeks, me still carrying pregnancy weight is abnormal. How and when did normal become abnormal and abnormal become normal, I do not know, but what I do not want is to be ridiculed for being lazy and still looking pregnant when I go back to work in a few months just like how Aishwarya Rai Bachchan was.
Rewind to about a year back, when my dear friend Charu of Colors & Mirrors called me up to quickly check on an Instagram post on their page that had suddenly gone viral. I quickly hop on to Instagram to see what the big deal is, the picture in question, being like any other on their page – pretty, poised and elegant. At first it did not strike me, but a quick glance at the comments below the image told me what I was not seeing. The model in the picture was beautifully dark-skinned and the brand was being lauded by people across the country for how they are a conscious fashion house promoting inclusivity and a space for all. I would be lying if we say we did not like the attention we were getting, but it got us thinking on how something that my friend did as a matter of fact and found normally beautiful, turned out to be something that majority of people find abnormally beautiful. I must remind our readers at this juncture, that India has always been a land of chocolate brown people, even our scriptures have references of our gods being bold, black and beautiful. Yet somewhere, brown & dark became abnormal and fair & light became normal.
Tracing back to when and how the new normal came about is probably a massive waste of time. It is extremely heartening to see how several people & brands are sincerely trying to change this notion of normal, but the message is lost on people like me, in this sea of social media influencers who are mostly big fat liars and wannabe fashion houses that are just using these trending topics/hashtags as attention seeking stunts. How do you think a lot of us feel when you have the perfect body but talk about ‘the need to love your curves’? How do you think we feel when you talk about ‘embracing your scars and imperfections’ when you are covered with umpteen layers of makeup? How do you think we feel when you talk about bringing back the normal when every picture you post is photoshopped and heavily post-processed?
With your perfect bodies, skin and photos, you are only making many people feel more inadequate, ugly and abnormal. Thanks, but No thanks. Next time you decide to be your overbearing generous self with a dark-skinned model by saying ‘hey, you are dark but beautiful’, hold back your insensitive ‘compliment’. If you can do nothing to promote how the ‘normal’ is ridiculously hard and expensive, at-least stop making people of my kind feel that we are rare, abnormal and beautiful. Stop making normal sound abnormal.