March 11, 2021 5:30:55 pm
In Dove India’s latest advertisement, a plus-size woman gets ready to ostensibly meet her prospective in-laws and husband. She appears tentative, even as her affable mother helps her, hovering and smiling. But just then, a relative enters the room, glancing at her and admonishing her mother for not getting her dressed ‘in a saree’. “Phir wazan dikhaayi de raha hai,” she says pointedly. The mother quickly fetches a shawl, and asks her daughter to cover the weight: “Dhak lo“. An impactful little sequence that reeks of social conditioning and the disdainful definition of ‘beauty’, coupled with the problematic ritual of dressing up and looking presentable for a marital alliance, for a man.
Delhi-based Jasvinder has been challenging what has come to be understood as ‘acceptable standards’ of beauty. While the aforementioned advertisement posits an important PSA, Jasvinder has been doing her bit to make people feel more included for some time now. A plus-size woman herself, she has been called ‘moti‘ (fat), by people who have tried to disparage her, to make fun of her body. But she has only ever ignored such comments. “I was never insecure about myself or my body. My family, however, has been,” she shares with indianexpress.com.
The 30-year-old social entrepreneur and model is the founder of Fashion & Lifestyle Council — a platform to promote inclusivity, especially for plus-size people. Jasvinder is busy right now organising a beauty pageant, “to raise the morale of men and women”, who find themselves tipping a certain way on the weighing scale. More than 120 models and around 30 designers will enter this competition to launch India’s first plus-size runway show. While the first edition will be held in Delhi in April 2021, forthcoming editions will take place in Mumbai and Dubai. And in the end, Mr, Ms, and Mrs Plus Size India 2021 will be announced.
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Around the world, people are made to feel uncertain and unconfident about their bodies on the regular. The viciousness of body shaming, and its normalisation, often makes women and men feel belittled. The consequences of it sometimes assume a dangerous form, leading to health issues which are both mental and physical in nature. “Being a plus-size woman, I have personally experienced it. Which is why, we intend to provide a platform for plus-size individuals to come out of a zone where they are stereotyped, and showcase their talent,” Jasvinder tells this outlet.
For plus-size people, there’s a lot of hostility. And little inclusivity. Most of it comes from brands that have little understanding and sensibility of body types. Jasvinder agrees, saying: “All plus-size brands must include more ethnic wear in their collections now, along with having more trendy and different designs. Plus-size people have limited options for lingerie, for instance, and that needs to be changed.”
Jasvinder hails from a middle class family. But she has always had a sound understanding of fashion. “It [fashion] is important to the society because it has the potential to bring different people together, to celebrate their individuality,” she says. “Fashion is about uniqueness, and about not adhering to what is considered to be ‘latest’ and ‘trendy’. The best way to enjoy it is to wear what you love and be yourself.”
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She adds that she looks up to body advocate and model Sakshi Sindwani, and that she is her motivation. “I watch her videos on Instagram.”
In 2019, Jasvinder was one of the finalists in a beauty contest called ‘Ms Curvy Queen’, and while she had been working within the industry for women empowerment, female education, etc., this was a novel experience for her, an eye-opener. “There came a realisation that while many Indian women have made their way up in the society to achieve their goals, there are many still in search of a platform.”
She urges that self-love is the best thing one can learn to do. “Self love is important for everyone. I always promote healthy lifestyle, and even if you are plus-size, you should have a daily routine for yourself like exercising, doing yoga and self-motivation. These things can help you to live a better and healthier life, and also make you excel in your career,” she says.
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While registrations for the aforementioned contest are open, more information is available on the website. Those looking to “showcase their beauty, intelligence and wisdom” can apply. “I am expecting a lot of fun and excitement for the contestants and myself,” Jasvinder concludes.
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