Be it real-life or Bollywood, the beauty standards society holds for women are blatantly awful and problematic. As women, we are frequently reminded to feel insecure about the way we look. Flawless skin, perfect physique, perfect facial structure, not to mention the obsession with fair skin and slim bodies go to a whole different level. The conventional beauty type of society pressurizes women to torture their bodies and often encourages harmful behaviours.
Here are 11 Bollywood celebs who open up about their struggles with these unrealistic beauty standards:
1. Priyanka Chopra
Priyanka Chopra listed down the conventional beauty standards that women had to reach and maintain to work in Bollywood.
Being ridiculously skinny was one, which I didn’t think about in my 20s at all because I had a crazy metabolism at that point, as you do. But more than that, the equity on lighter skin in Asia for sure, that was something I fell for The fact you have to be sort of perfect. Your face has to be perfect, your hair has to be perfect, you have to dress perfectly, you have to speak perfectly, you have to have the right opinion on everything, you have to say the right thing. I think that part was the first that I kind of was like, ‘Forget it. I’m okay being messy sometimes, and it’s okay.
Kajol made a brutally honest remark on Bollywood’s unrealistic beauty standard and said:
Actors have dehumanised themselves. We hold ourselves to these impossible standards because we’ve created them. Looking a certain way is an issue we’ve created. I wear regular stuff, clothes which are comfortable. It’s not airport fashion. It’s what normal people wear. I can’t wear stilettos while travelling. Flats were created for a reason. What is size zero? I don’t understand it. I can’t allow critics to pressure me.
3. Sonam Kapoor
Sonam Kapoor underlined how women are expected to be flawless and said the strict rules of beauty are hard to win.
Despite being on the cusp of actually being a movie star, I didn’t believe I looked the part. I constantly worried that, if asked to dance in a backless choli, rolls of back fat would give me away as an imposter to the industry. Nobody lines up to buy tickets to see cellulite. We’ve been taught that women need to be flawless even when our flawlessness is wildly implausible, sexy even when our sexiness is a break from plot. We’re sprinting through Jurassic Park in heels, fighting supervillains in strapless corsets, being stranded on deserted islands for days without a hint of stubble.
4. Sonakshi Sinha
Sonakshi Sinha had to lose 30 kgs before making a foray into Bollywood.
I lost 30 kilos for my first film. When it was released, the audiences lapped me up but the worst part is I was being fat-shamed by the industry people and the media. That really hurt.
5. Vidya Balan
Vidya Balan has come a long way in accepting herself and giving us the rightful definition of beauty. But she had her struggling days. In an old interview, Vidya shared how she dealt with the pressure of looking good.
For the longest time, I hated my body. It was important for me to have gone through what I did. It was very public and at that time it was so insurmountable. I come from a non-film family. There was no one to tell me that these phases don’t last. My weight issue had become a national issue. I have always been a fat girl; I wouldn’t say that I am at a stage where my fluctuating weight doesn’t bother me anymore at all. But I have come a long way. On the days I was under the pressure of looking my best, I would bloat up and I would be so angry and frustrated.
6. Taapsee Pannu
Taapsee Pannu always thought she was the opposite of beautiful, she felt she wasn’t conventionally pretty. She talked about her understanding of beauty and how she evolved.
I didn’t have those big ‘doe eyes’; I didn’t have an elegant, small nose… I had this large, ‘royal nose’, as people call it. I didn’t have luscious lips or straight, silky hair—you know, the kind that actresses flipped around. I had curly hair, and I remember noticing that none of the actresses on television had hair that looked like mine. So yes, I did not fit the conventional parameters of beauty. And for many years, I tried to change myself, and failed miserably at it. Until finally I realised that I need to live with—and love—what I have… Today, I understand how beautiful it is when you truly love the way you are.
7. Kangana Ranaut
Kangana pointed out how Bollywood holds on to an unreal beauty standard. She added how she tried hard to fit into Bollywood’s beauty standard in her initial years.
Bollywood propagates a certain beauty standard that is absolutely unreal. Personally, even in the roles, I do I try for it to be a real and relatable woman. We as Indians now I think are trying to not give in to those pressures. When I started, I tried so hard to fit in. Honestly, I am telling you, I would try to be the damsel in distress because I thought there was no other way. But I am my own savior and I had to stick to my guns eventually.
8. Esha Gupta
Esha Gupta opened up about the horrible things people told her when she made her debut in Bollywood.
When I became an actor, and my first film came, I remember when I used to go to meetings or auditions, people used to say, ‘Oh, you should do your colour light or take those injections, which cost a lot of money.’ Because a lot of actresses have done that and changed the colour. But I never understood that concept. Someone even told me that I should change my nose because my nose was not sharp like other actresses.
9. Huma Qureshi
Huma Qureshi spoke about unrealistic beauty standards and gave us a perfect definition of what beauty standards should look like.
The focus should be on developing personality and individuality, which is more important than having poker-straight hair or a Size 24 waist. I have so many friends who are shamed for being skinny. Why can’t we just let women and their bodies be?
10. Richa Chadha
Richa Chadha opened up about how during the beginning of her career she was outcasted because of her skin colour and body type.
For the longest time, for most of the industry, I was not good-looking. I was good-looking only for my mom and dad, because I was dusky, and didn’t have a model-like figure.
11. Katrina Kaif
Like many of us, Katrina too felt conscious about the way she looked. Here’s what she shared.
I grew up thinking that there is just one kind of beauty—it was what you saw in the magazines, and if you didn’t conform to that, then you didn’t cut it. I used to be rather conscious about the way I looked because I felt like I didn’t quite fit in. Today, people might find that admission a little strange, but back then, I felt that there were things about my features that were not ‘perfect’. I realise now that I was the one putting this pressure on myself,
We as a society need to evolve with the beauty standard we carry for women. I think it’s important we accept and celebrate the diversity in beauty and truly love the way we are!