By Atiqa Ali
Ever since the dawn of fashion and media industry, one of the main requirements of getting a job, is to look perfect.
Although, these standards of perfection have changed over time and become slightly more progressive, there is still a certain maximum weight limit for anyone wanting to be a part of the industry. This weight limit focuses less on the health perspective and more on the looks.
Unfair body standards within the industry
Tall, skinny, fair and lovely; four words that describe the main criteria of becoming a model. After all, the walk can be learned, the dressing sense gets better over time but to break through the surface, you need to have a body every girl would dream of and every guy would fantasize about. This usually consists of long limbs, micro waistlines and luscious locks. Size zero is a must or no deal.
This strict guideline also applies to the actors, mainly actresses working in the television and film industry. No matter how destitute a character on-screen will be, the glamour of a star will still shine through and with it, the same body image.
This body image, although beautiful to look at, is often extremely hard to attain. It requires rigorous gym routines, bland diets and expensive personal trainers but hey, when you’re part of the glamour, you can afford it all or can (should) you?
Over time, we’ve had a few cases on and off, a few above the designated size limit divas who’ve spoken up about the unfair and honestly, unhealthy body standards.
Zara Noor Abbas calls out the industry for body shaming her
As of yesterday, Zara Noor Abbas is one them. The actress posted a collage of the same picture from a shoot, before and after photoshop. The difference is substantial.
View this post on Instagram
Left : Photoshoped Right : Original A shoot i did sometime ago. The people involved sent me this picture and i made a collage of it. For the longest time I have heard people telling me that I am ' too broad ' or ' too big ' I was told: Sizes 4 and 6 SHOULD be my friends! I should go through body transforming surgery. A very prestigious brand didn't want to work with me because I was not ' petite ' This disturbed me a lot on different levels but one level so loathing that I stopped liking myself wearing anything. I began to question if it was all about how I looked and not about who I am at heart or if i am talented or not. If I'd have carbs at dinner, I'd cry. If i'd have some chips to eat, people would tell to get rid of them because actresses and models dont eat. They have to look desirable. And ONLY skinny is desriable. If I had desserts, I'd hate myself later on and create an energy so negative that it effected me mentally. Then one fine day, while this was taking a huge toll on me, I looked at myself and told myself what I always believed in. Being who you are. And who am I? I am a curvy woman. And I love myself. Take me as who I am or else don’t bother at all. I will never change myself for what you think I should be. #ShameonBodyShaming
In her own words, Zara tells us that she’s been called “too big” or “too broad” by brands and had a label refuse to work with her because she’s not petite.
She then speaks about the mental toll this attitude has had on her and the times when she cried after having a few carbs for dinner. She ends her story with her tale of self-acceptance and clear message that whoever wants to work with her must accept her as she is or move on.
What more can and should be done?
We acknowledge and applaud the stance she has taken on her body image but we cannot help but wonder about the difference it would make if more starlets started voicing their self-acceptance.
If there were more diverse body types shown all across the media, it would help us move towards a more progressive body image in leaps and bounds. Young girls all over Pakistan wouldn’t just be staring at and fantasizing about size zero bodies but they’d see more attainable, healthy bodies like the ones they already have. There would be a decrease in the body dysmorphia with girls seeing their idols looking humane, rather than having plastic barbie doll looks.
The industry itself would be more approachable to people who have the talent but not the perfect look.
Alas, we can only dream of a future like that and hope for the best.