Can we take weight loss off the pedestal? 

Aishwarya Rai at the 75th Cannes film festival.
| Photo Credit: REUTERS

“It is uncool to fat shame any one,” tweeted Malaika Arora Khan last week after her sister Amrita was body-shamed for gaining weight. The trolls, of course, did what they best do.

After her red carpet appearance at Cannes last month, Aishwarya Rai was at the receiving end for her ‘botox looks’. The trolls labelled her ‘buddhi’ (old) and aunty and said the fillers treatment went wrong for her and as a result she’s lost her charm.

Amrita instagrammed a befitting reply: “Got a lot of hate on my weight gain! I own it…. I love it… my weight my problem! Since when has everything become everyone’s issue.”

Kareena Kapoor Khan, age-shamed for her looks, also responded wackily: “Buddhi is meant to be an insult?? Coz for me it’s just a word… a word that means old? Yes we are older… n wiser… but you, are nameless, faceless, ageless? And so are your folks.”

When netizens show insensitivity, divas are well within their right to take a savage stance against the trolls for their own emotional well-being, says Dr. Kersi Chavda, psychiatry consultant at PD Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai.

‘They are vulnerable too’

Beauty and power is a heady mix but celebrities often pay a price for their popularity. It is not easy for anybody to remain unfazed when fun is poked at them. The celebrities may put up a bold front of being unaffected, but they are human too. “Besides being a public figure, they are also a partner, parent, sibling or a friend and are vulnerable like anybody else having a good or a bad day,” says Dr. Chavda. But for them, doing what their job demands, there is little focus on their emotional health. They randomly draw flak for their looks and outfits but does anybody care to extinguish their anguish? asks Dr. Chavda.

Psychiatrists, psychologists, fitness trainers and nutritionists say both genetic and environmental factors contribute to personality, continuity and change. The person who is bullied and the one who bullies, both need help; though it is not a said or done thing in our society.

Celebrities are under tremendous pressure to keep their bodies looking good and in shape. To constantly live up to perform flawlessly, they endure hidden stress ignoring their physical and mental health, depression and anxiety issues, says Dr. Priyadarshan K, senior consultant of plastic and cosmetic surgery, Fortis Hospital, Bengaluru.

To deal with the ordeal of faceless trolls, it is not mandatory but at times it could be better to seek help.When individuals come to him for a cosmetic uplift, he indulges in long conversations to elicit information on any past or present mental health condition. “If I think they need therapy, I send them in for an assessment and counselling before surgery,” he says and adds, majority of them have a clear idea though, of what they want. It is the trolls who have impaired empathy, particularly, when it comes to understanding and experiencing other people’s emotions. So, is there a specific way to deal with them?

The intervention is situational but the idea should not be to reinforce their behaviour, says Dr. Sahir Jamati, consultant psychologist and psychotherapist at Mumbai’s Masina Hospital. For instance, Aishwarya Rai’s strategy of implicit silence also works because the more you demonstrate your hurt or anger, the more you feed their amusement as trolls are always hungry for attention and reaction, and look for acknowledgement and not resolutions, he says.

A whole community perhaps waits to see how celebrities handle trolls. Body neutrality, body positivity, body respect, body confidence – as part of the global campaign #fatacceptance — have allowed women to make peace with their bodies.

Being fat is not a moral failure, rather obsession with body size is a waste. Gender stereotyping is a trope we know well enough and therefore, need to focus on accepting the feel of the body than being obsessed with beach-ready bodies and before-and-after-diet photos. “When the happiness quotient and healing of the mind is better, the trolls can be policed even better,” says Dr. Priyadarshan.

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