Rakul Preet Singh made a name for herself in the South Indian film industry before making her Bollywood debut in the 2014 film Yaariyan, a questionable rom-com that invested more time in objectifying women than an actual script. Recently, the actor got candid about the double standards in both industries. 

In a not-so-shocking revelation, Singh claimed that in the south, she was asked to put on some kilos, but when she came to Mumbai, she was demanded to lose weight. This only goes to prove how volatile idealistic beauty standards are.

During her guest appearance on Shilpa Shetty’s chat show titled Shape of You, the host shared her experience of working in the south recalling how she was deemed too skinny. When questioned about her experience, Rakul replied, “When I debuted, Samantha (Ruth Prabhu) and Kajal (Aggarwal) were already stars, and they were fit. I think people became conscious about how they look on the screen because the content was being consumed everywhere.”

I was told I am too thin. People would call me ‘stick’ and I would say no. But after two-three years I gave in also.

-Rakul Preet Singh

However, when the actor arrived in Mumbai to try her luck in the Hindi film industry, she was asked to shed some kilos. 

When I came to Mumbai and I started auditioning at the age of 20, I was told that I will have to lose weight because that was the standard of Bombay. But I didn’t have access or understanding since I was a kid,

-Rakul Preet Singh

Much like many of her peers, Singh too fell prey to the myriad of fad diets. She was forced to lose 10 kgs in 50 days for Luv Ranjan’s romantic comedy De De Pyar De, in which she starred with Ajay Devgn.

I lost 10 kgs in 50 days, and I didn’t think I was 10 kgs overweight, but I was,

-Rakul Preet Singh

Not just in Bollywood, but in film industries across the country, a woman’s number on a scale is valued more than her talent. As time flies by and geography changes, the idealized notions about the female form shift. But one thing remains constant. The world will continue to shove the patriarchy sanctioned standards of beauty down a woman’s throat and attach her worth to it, denying her the agency to be her true, authentic self. This phenomenon starts in Bollywood with actors like Rakul Preet Singh, and slowly trickles down to mainstream society which is poisoned with the propaganda that ideal = beautiful. Given the massive hold cinema has over our country, it’s high time they do better.