We all have fond memories of our childhood. My best ones though, come with a pinch of salt. Because as I was growing up, I was constantly mocked and teased by my relatives and teachers about how short I was. Every time I topped my class, or when I was chosen Head Girl of the school, people discussed my achievement later; they first wondered how a girl so short and tiny could do things so big.
"Itni choti si hai ye, kaise kar leti hai sab kuch!"
"Itni choti hokar company kaise chala leti hai tu!"
"Arrey, tu thodi lambi nikal jaati toh sahi rehta. Bahut chhoti reh gayi."
They never missed a chance to remind me that I was inadequate. As if my worth stopped at my height.
If reading this makes you sad, don’t be. Because mine isn’t a unique story. Every woman, tall or short, curvy or skinny, fair or dark, has heard stark criticisms about her body. These remarks and casual comments can put a deep dent in a woman’s self-esteem and how she feels about her own self. We asked the women in our office, our friends, friends of friends about what they think about their bodies, and none of them stopped at "I think it's great" or "I feel quite comfortable and beautiful about my body". They all had horrible stories from their past about how they were bullied, criticised, or casually teased about their bodies. And that’s what’s sad.
Stemming from this very insight, we made a beautiful ad film that aims at making women take notice and feel proud of their so called “imperfections”. We got Aparna Thankaraj, a part of Team Carmesi (casually called a Zebra for her stretch marks), and Richa Tigga, a friend of the brand (who’s been extremely conscious of her tummy all her life), to model for us. Even though they aren’t professional models, they did not hesitate to stand up to the challenge. There they were, in front of the camera, with the lens focused on everything that supposedly made them "imperfect". Their bulges, their protruding tummy, their stretch marks, the colour of their skin, their cellulite-laden thighs! And the video captured it all, beautifully, perfectly. And that happened just because we created an environment where these women did not feel judged, they just felt "perfect" in their bodies.
But our hopes were shattered when Facebook disapproved the video for promotions quoting "Your ads were correctly disapproved for containing images which imply or attempt to generate negative self-perception in order to promote diet, weight loss, or other health related products". What disappointed us is not just that our campaign could not be run, but more importantly the fact that our campaign could not be run because of the very thing we were fighting for, with the campaign. Apparently, shots of real, unedited bodies can create negative user-experience.
So, with this post, we intend to raise a very important question. Are we scared to see a woman’s real body? Have all these years of admiring airbrushed bodies conditioned us to feel disturbed by what’s real? Because if that is the case, it’s time we stand up and make some noise. More people, more brands, more organisations need to come forward and take a stand against unrealistic body standards. The toxicity that comes with mockery of our bodies needs to end. And believe us, having front cameras with in-built features for straightening our noses and trimming our jawlines aren’t showing us a promising future.
It’s time that women feel loved and cherished in their bodies. That they understand that their bodies don’t determine their abilities. We also think that “perfection” needs to be re-defined. It shouldn’t be someone’s idea of what a woman should look like. Because we truly believe that a woman in all her raw, natural self, is perfect.
So, if you think that this post and our film can help even a single woman overcome inhibitions about her body, if you think that we can inspire her to stop being critical of her own self, SHARE IT.
Help us the reach the women that we couldn’t because Facebook’s idea of a socially acceptable body doesn’t have stretch marks or body hair. Share it because every woman’s body deserves affection.
Tanvi Johri (Author)