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What Does Huma Qureshi’s Femina Cover Mean For Women And The Stereotypes Around Their Bodies?

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By Anshul Tewari:

For long, our society has stereotyped women and their bodies, and compelled them to be “in shape” to suit the needs and imagination of men and the society. The reality is, women don’t owe their bodies to anyone, and in no case deserve any form of body-shaming. We live in times where body-image issues have led to higher stress levels, depression and even growing suicide rates among young men and women across the world. Celebrities, fashion magazines and their ideas for perfect bodies have only furthered the stereotypes – and this impacts both men and women negatively.

But celebrities themselves can set an example. Huma Qureshi shattered the stereotype around the “perfect body” in the latest Femina cover, giving a strong message, “I don’t owe you perfection. My body, my rules”.

Huma Qureshi

The cover not only questions the society and our flawed perception of beauty, but also makes a striking remark about who decides for women in our society.

Some even called off the hypocrisy they thought that Femina showcases.

Though the cover did receive its fair share of criticism about the amount of airbrush used on this photograph, and that it still compares perfection to a “size zero mannequin”, it certainly is a good start.

From the moment a child is born, the stereotypes around how one should look take over our perceptions, compelling us to treat people with different body shapes differently. Does this cover solve the problem around body-image? Certainly not! We need a more cultural shift from patriarchal values which have driven our society for the longest, and move more towards a society that respects other people’s bodies and their rights. However, what this cover does mean for women and the stereotypes around their bodies is that the much needed conversation is now out in the open.

What do you think about this cover?

To know more about what I think, follow me on Twitter @anshul_tewari.

You must be to comment.
  1. Lakshmi

    Though it is a good move, but let us not forget it is by the same Times of India that organises that the Pantaloons Femina Miss India, who we all know is obsessed with exactly the opposite of what is shown here. The Documentary ” the world before her” had aptly demonstrated that

    1. Ads

      I don’t reli think the 2 concepts contradict as each one of them is different.Beauty pageants are about well sculpted bodies and extrovert personalities but that in no way means that a person who is not a beauty pageant winner is not good enough.and that’s exactly what the cover is trying to stress upon!

  2. Ananya

    I might be reading too much into it. Buy it says I don’t owe you perfection. Which implies that because she is a little buxom, she isn’t perfect. Isn’t this just a subtle way of yet again getting people to conclude that they are flawed due to the 5 extra kgs on their body which shouldn’t be there?

  3. shipra singh

    they didn’t have to put the ‘i don’t owe u perfection’ quote there. they might be doing some harm along with some good. by saying that, they have already lead to the conclusion that a size 0 is perfection. but maybe the other way of looking at it is, ‘our society ‘thinks’ that is perfection, and so using layman terms such as that we have tried to put our point forward.

  4. Ra’s al Ghul

    Women are the ones who feel the need to show their bodies in public. No one is obsessed with men’s bodies because men cover their bodies. It is women who wear sleeveless and backless dresses along with miniskirts and shorts, not to mention skin tight clothes. If women had enough sense to cover their bodies, then we would not have a problem. Also, all kinds of businesses prosper and flourish through marketing strategies, be they cosmetics, clothes, or products related to diets. Target women and get money out of their purses. Women are not welcome to join the League of Shadows.

    1. Batman

      Welcome to 21st century!
      Justice League 😛

    2. Bane

      I’m here to fulfill Ra’s Al Ghul’s destiny!

      But he’s just a misogynist jerk anyway!

    3. ANUVA

      And why girls don’t cover their bodies is none of your business and don’t try to say that if a woman covers herself properly then only she has a sense of how to wear clothes and it clearly says that no girls owes you anything and that itself includes the fact that your interference is not required and from your point of view I am going to say that there are men wearing only vests and shorts and roaming around on the streets -why don’t you offer your suggestion to them and then there are those who urinate on a highway-how about teaching those men ethics instead of laying down a list telling what women should or shouldn’t wear.
      And plz I don’t want rubbish slangs or comments if they cannot convey their message using proper language.

    4. Ra’s al Ghul

      It is a fact that women are the ones who set the standard for women’s bodies. If women don’t like being stared at by men, then who are they wearing revealing clothes for? – Other women? It is women who believe that if they have a toned body they must show it off. In the olden days, only prostitutes revealed their bodies in public. Now a lot of girls do it, and then they cry about negative body image. These girls should join the League of Shadows where some sense will be pumped in their fashion obsessed heads.

    5. Somia Sharma

      OH MY GOD!!!
      Man you are such a jerk.
      If you wear a shorts or roam about in a vest, does that mean that you want people to stare at you and pass comments. Why are these stereotypes in case of women. Its their way of dressing, their life. If you see a girl or women where she is showing some skin would that make you salivate and want to check her out?????
      AND who said men keep their bodies covered.

      DO NOT use offensive language for anyone.

    6. Ra’s al Ghul

      Somia, how many men do you see in short shorts, backless shirts, skin tight clothes as opposed to women? Furthermore, if all men out there started wearing revealing clothing, then women would also stare.

    7. Batman

      Men in shorts? – Yes
      Skin tight clothes? – Yes
      Backless shirts? – No but shirtless, yes

      “In the olden days, only prostitutes revealed their bodies in public. Now a lot of girls do it, and then they cry about negative body image.” – What???!!! Seriously? So you equate all women wearing short dresses to prostitutes? Since when is dress equated to character? So a man going around in shorts is a prostitute too? Any person wearing what he/she feels comfortable in is a prostitute?

      If men cannot control their animal instincts force them to wear goggles or blindfold themselves instead of forcing their narrow mindedness on the other gender!

    8. Ra’s al Ghul

      How many men go shirtless or in shorts as opposed to women in revealing clothing. Furthermore, men’s shorts happen to be knee length whereas girls wear shorts the size of their underwear, not to mention miniskirts, backless dresses, and cleavage revealing tops, shirts, and dresses, and of course, skin tight clothes. My point is, if men revealed so much, women would also stare. In fact, they already do. The League of Shadows is getting stronger by the day, you won’t win with Ra’s al Ghul.

    9. Batman

      You managed to convince me… that this is a pointless debate!

    10. Ra’s al Ghul

      Dress does not equate character. My point is, the whole issue about negative body image arises when women reveal their bodies, and it becomes a norm. If women learnt to cover their bodies, they would not have these issues. Members of The League of Shadows are taught to cover their bodies.

    11. Ra’s al Ghul

      All members of The League of Shadows unanimously agree that rapists should be catastrated and hanged from trees in public.

    12. Ra’s al Ghul


    13. Somia Sharma

      Possibly you are one of those people who would blame a girl who was raped. It is useless having a discussion with a person like you. And you are right. It is possible that girls may stare at u if u go shirtless, they may drool as well. But they would never throw themselves upon u- TO RAPE YOU.
      Maybe u should stop having chowmein as well bcoz if u do so u would be so aroused that u may just not be able to control yourself when u see a female member of ur family as well.

      And FOR UR INFORMATION- The rape that happened on 16th Dec 2013. The girl was fully covered as it was a chilling cold out there and was still raped. Not only raped but also her intestines were fatally injured.
      A girl might be dressed anyhow, she might be out at night, with guy friends or alone but she is never asking it to happen to her.

  5. Gaurav

    what I do not understand is that why do women bother with their looks . in india , all the beauty parlours, clinics which offer plastic surgery and other such places should be shut down. no one needs to change their looks or their bodies. we should accept ourselves as we are. applying makeup is a sign of trying to fit in the mould that society has made for us. to hell with what society thinks.

  6. Prashant Kaushik

    She has demonstrated liberation from stereotypical perfect figure while promoting a stereotypical perfect face.
    Look at her face. No dark circle beneath eyes. No wrinkles any where. The entire notion of plastic beauty is intact, just its focus shifted from body to face.
    Her real self looks something like this which is a far cry from this photoshop photoshoot
    No doubt she is beautiful, and am not understating her, all I mean is that in real life, she doesn’t look like the one on this cover.

    Its stupid to blame men alone for stereotypes or standards related to ‘female’ beauty. Let women introspect.
    In this age, No body but they themselves decide what they follow and whom they want to look like.
    Salmaan, SRK, Akshay and almost every male Bollywood hero fake a waxed chest in movies. Does that make the boys on Indian streets to line up before saloons for waxing ? No. At max, Most of us are happy getting a hair cut/shaving.
    And no matter which place u visit, a village a suburb or a city, you can see women’s beauty parlor mushrooming every nook and corner. It may be difficult to find a mobile or dairy shop, but never to spot a women’s parlor.

  7. Apoorva Rajhans

    Woman don’t want to show off their bodies to the jerks present out there.. It is completely about feelingconfident about their looks that they put make up..
    There is no problem in wearing sexy dresses as far as the lady is comfortable.. The need to fight stereotype is to let people be confident about themselves…
    If you are so much against dressing up and putting make up on, then probably you should go to your office n for shopping in ur pajamas… :p

  8. Shivani

    I do feel that this Huma Qureshi story is being over hyped- in the sense that in most of her interviews, what she actually says is that she will not starve her way to reach size zero but that she will do it the healthy one … she binges on sweets once a week as recommended by her experts, so and so forth… there is still no questioning of the need to do that… While definitely one can try and acknowledge that to say we will reach a particular shape the healthy way is a one step ahead of starving our way towards it, but the underlying message is that we still must aim towards it… And as one of the twitter posts pointed out, after decades of making women hate their bodies by only choosing to include the thin and lean on their cover pages, is Femina, correcting an age old wrong or just succumbing to the temptation that one now sees abundantly around- of trying to encash ‘feminism’ for some profits. Sharing a link – .. Plz do see

  9. Member of the LOS

    I really doubt if anyone has ever asked for “perfection” from her. x’D

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