Lose weight! Get Slim! Look young! These commands are flung at us by fitness parlours, diet drinks and sundry figure-trimming miracle-makers.
Ladies, otherwise acceptably proportioned, are being pushed to anorexia (that’s up-chucking after a 5-course feast) and bulimia (if you don’t know what that means, you shouldn’t be alive). Beware, a colonic irrigation café may soon be opening at the end of your street.
“Enough is too much,” complains a bridge group of Bandra ladies. “Why must we be forced to see ourselves as MRF blimps when we are only a few extra chocolate éclairs round the waist? In any case, our husbands couldn’t do without our love handles.”
“Let’s take them to court,” piped in Sheila Vaswani, a fire–brand lawyer when she’s away from the card table. “Let’s file a Public Interest Litigation against those Beauty Contests. How dare they squeeze nice Indian kumaris into skimpy Speedo under-water underwear and then parade them on national television? How many of these poor creatures can actually step into a swimming pool without getting drowned? Well, if the organisers insist on the swim-wear event then the Miss India contestants must compete in a 50-meter free-style race. That should put a stop to all this nonsense.
“And what about also challenging these Fashion Shows that present garments that nobody in her right mind would dream of wearing. Outlandish headgear inspired by creatures from outer space and gowns that feature giant cabbages sticking out of a lady’s rear. Can you imagine any woman dressed in one of these Planet Pluto pop-ups and walking into a party? All the guests would flee for the safety of their wardrobes.”
Added Anjali Sen an advertising executive: “Let’s use mass communication techniques to convince ladies everywhere that it’s perfectly fine to look their age and size. We need a catchy slogan on which to pin our campaign. Remember how successful the “Black is Beautiful” slogan turned out to be in the US. It went all the way to the White House. Any ideas, girls, for a slogan? ‘Fat is fab’? A good start. ‘Hips are hip’? Not bad — let’s keep working on it.
“When we finally do have our commandment, we need a celebrity to cry it out from the roof-tops. See how successful Aishwarya Rai has been with L’Oreal’s “You’re Worth It.” Or what a hit Juhi Chawla has been as the spokeswoman for ‘Kurkure’. We need some lady like that who’s nationally recognised. Sushma Swaraj? Not bad. She’s a bundle of energy with a voice that would shatter the light bulbs in any PIL courtroom. But not everyone would identify with the leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
Jayalalitha would have been an ideal role model on a good hair day. But she’s a bit here-today-gone-tomorrow. Mamta Bannerjee might fit the bill after a couple of facials and a wardrobe makeover. Mayawati of course would solve the problem by banning all non-Dalit fancy dress shows.
The ladies pondered these options before agreeing that there was room for further thinking. “All right, girls,” said Lorna Pereira, a housewife. “For now, deal the cards.”
Sylvester da Cunha is one of India’s pioneering admen whose agency creates the widely loved Amul ads.