You always have to go to plus size section to find your dress!
Your friends call you a potato!
You can't wear a short dress because you have fat legs!
Are you really ashamed of your body shape? No matter what our judgemental society thinks, a woman should embrace every curve.
Sudha Pillai, a Bengaluru-based artist and media entrepreneur, roars against body-shaming and shows us how beautiful it is to have a healthy body, through her paintings.
Apart from being an artist, Sudha is a journalist, writer, and professional photographer too. She is also the founder of A Sunny Square, a digital lifestyle platform/magazine for creative ideas and and inspiring stories.
She shares many of her drawings and scribbles on her Facebook page, Lines By Su.
While talking to International Business Times India about her experience, she reveals how she came up with the idea about the series of drawings Fat Bottomed Ladies; a graceful effort to shut down the haters.
Here are the edited excerpts of the interview:
International Business Times: Your drawings are steeped in a sense of realism. What inspires you the most?
Sudha Pillai: My art is my response to the world around me and within me. Events and experiences inspire me the most.
IBT: How did the idea of the 'Fat-Bottomed Ladies' come up?
SP: I was having a conversation with a friend of mine. The last time he saw me I was "thin". Now I am 20kgs heavier. We were discussing working on some international projects when he suddenly blurted, "You're too fat to make a good first impression on international clients. So, instead of showing your face, we will show them your work. Because once they see your work, they cannot say no to you since it is so damn good."
You're too fat to make a good first impression on international clients. So, instead of showing your face, we will show them your work.
Let's say his words took my breath away – not in a nice way, though. I know my friend well enough to believe that he didn't say those words out of malice.
My friend has lived and worked abroad all his life. So if those words came out as naturally as they did, then it means he must've witnessed something more often than not. He was making an observation based on ground reality.
I resort to drawing, painting or writing when I am disturbed by something.
Though I gave my friend an appropriate response (yes, we are still friends), the exchange rankled me.
Like always, I began drawing, and soon I found myself drawing a fat-bottomed girl with a camera – it could be a subconscious association since I am a professional photographer too.
That's how Fat-bottomed Ladies Rock! Started.
Somewhere down the line, I began reimagining famous film posters with fat-bottomed leading ladies. Because if you notice, even when a movie is a strong heroine-oriented one, she is expected to fit a stereotype – tall, slim and fair.
If the women are fat (nobody calls a fat woman plus-size in their heads) they are usually relegated to playing a comic sidekick, or even if she is a lead, it will be a comedy film (as if fat women can't be serious, can't kick butt or be sexy).
So, I decided to make my re-imagined heroines fat-bottomed, and they rocked!
IBT: How has your series 'Fat-Bottomed Ladies' helped change the perception of 36-24-36?
SP: The series is all about "say yes to healthy bodies" (whatever size or shape it is) but say "no to body shaming". I believe in things happening organically. People always see, hear and perceive things depending on where they are in their lives at that point.
Fat-bottomed Ladies Rock! is filled with images of happy large women in day-to-day situations.
People always see, hear and perceive things depending on where they are in their lives at that point.
Those who connect with these ladies will get whatever message they want. Any art for that matter is a personal pursuit. How people interpret it and the messages they take away from it are all a bonus for the artist. But considering the response that I have been receiving, my fat-bottomed ladies seemed to touch a chord somewhere.
I have had people telling me that the images are "liberating" or that it "goes a long way in reaffirming beliefs that one needs to be fit and not worry so much about the numbers".
IBT: Do you think Indian society has always been judgemental about women's beauty standards?
SP: There are stereotypical notions of beauty (and every period has its stereotypes) and the society judges women based on that. We are no different. So yes, we are judgemental.
If you are fair, slim, and young, then you are considered "capable", "intelligent", "a doer", "highly productive" and "an asset". And that's bollocks!
Otherwise, tell me, why is it that we never see dark-skinned, curvy air hostess in India or news readers or models (and NO, the dusky models that our fashion industry claims to have are not dark-skinned at all).
Yes, we do judge people based on looks and first impressions. People will go blue in the face denying it publicly, but there's always an invisible unfair association i.e. if you are fair, slim, and young, then you are considered "capable", "intelligent", "a doer", "highly productive" and "an asset". And that's bollocks!
IBT: Body-shaming has become a common term all over the world. How can people's mindsets be changed?
SP: Nothing is going to change overnight. But change can and will happen over time if we are going to consciously practice the concept of saying "no to body shaming" in popular culture and in our day-to-day living; in our educational institutions, workplaces and public spaces. And should start at at home.
IBT: Please tell us more about your venture, A Sunny Square.
SP: A Sunny Square is an online magazine for happy stories with a specific focus on stories of innovations and creativity. When you get weary of reading about tragedy, suffering, rage, crime and corruption, then you come to SSQ for your daily dose of sunshine.
IBT: What are the other projects taking shape?
SP: As far as my art is concerned I am currently working on a series called the Pink Tales based on the concept that a single picture can tell a hundred different stories to a hundred different people. I am also working on a book that will have my verses accompanied by watercolors.