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Why I Hope Teenage Girls Don’t Follow Parineeti Chopra’s Example To ‘Feel Beautiful’

By Supriya Ganesh

“Leave the average behind.”

parineeti chopra built that wayI was pretty taken aback by the caption. So Parineeti Chopra lost weight, presumably due to her own volition. And yes, she had a photoshoot celebrating her body, which is pretty great. I am all for a woman feeling empowered and at peace with what she looks like – God knows that’s hard to come by these days.

But the pictures, featuring a slimmer Parineeti and prominent “fitspiration” quotes, leave me uneasy. “Fitspiration,” according to Lauren Bersaglio, creator of the movement #StopFitspiration, is “any message (usually in the form of an image with a quote included) that encourages one to ‘persevere’, ‘push’, or even ‘suffer’ through exercise for the sake of achieving change in one’s physical appearance.” Parineeti Chopra’s photos are a classic example of fitspiration– a newly lean Parineeti tells us to “stretch, never surrender,” “push harder” so we can “feel stronger,” and more prominently “leave the average behind.”

Is this notion of “average” supposed to refer to less than physically “perfect” individuals– without toned limbs, or an above average height – or people who cannot achieve a fitness goal? Either way, this message is disturbing. I think back to the days when I would use similar rhetoric to restrict my eating to one meal a day or less. I think back to the several forums I visited, where numerous people wrote of “obsessiveness” with exercise– spending several hours a day running without much sustenance, repeating similar mantras of endurance under their breath until they nearly collapsed from exhaustion.

Parineeti Chopra might love her new body, but what she fails to realize is that by celebrating it in this way, with these messages emblazoned on her pictures for the world to see, she harms others’ perceptions of their own body. Her weight loss is used in tandem with these quotes, telling us her “struggle” led to “celebration”. She is equating pain and exercise with an aesthetic change in her body, and that is a dangerous underlying message.

Firstly, it perpetuates the idea of an ideal body type. Her campaign’s message is “built that way”; the idea is that she kept pushing until a beautiful lean self, who was built “that” way, emerged from the folds of her old “chubby, childish” body, according to her Twitter. She writes, “I am sure, like me, even you are built that way … you can also do it!” This isn’t necessarily true– not everyone is built to adhere to society’s standards of beauty, regardless of how much we push ourselves.

Secondly, it associates the goal of exercise with an aesthetic purpose, rather than with the improvement of one’s health. Exercise should be engaged in with the aim of prolonging our lives, of having functioning bodies as time passes, but not because we want to look like “that actress did in that poster.” Once we have that aim in mind, we begin to push ourselves to reach a certain body type– streamlined, with a perfect hip to chest ratio and fat distribution. We tell ourselves we will push through and get there, and once we do, we will feel so much better about ourselves– or as Parineeti puts it, we will “celebrate.” Conflating your self-image with exercise is risky, and will only lead to disappointment. As Bersaglio aptly puts it– if you don’t like yourself now, you won’t like yourself twenty bench-presses from now, either.

parineeti 3These aren’t ideas that Parineeti herself necessarily adheres to – when asked for her response to the criticism, while she did say that she endorses “being your fittest self” and not “being thin” (which is an important distinction, as slimness should not be equated with healthiness), she added “I wanted to work on my body and I got 6-8 months to work on it. I am glad that the results are showing.” This clearly reveals her mindset – that the goal of exercise is to be toned.

Parineeti might be happy with her new self, and I am genuinely glad for her– it’s her body and her choice, and I know I can respect that– but I have to say I am disappointed in her. In an industry filled with slim, toned women, she of all people must know how difficult it is to have her self-worth tied to your appearance. Regardless of her personal thought process behind her weight loss, I had hoped she’d be a little more sensitive to the message she’d send out there– or to how the media would inevitably react to her transformation, especially with these photos in mind.

Articles have already been churned out on the actor’s “hot” new avatar, and her “beautiful” photoshoot, celebrating and glorifying her transformation. I am sure there’s a teenage girl out there reading these articles, craving the same compliments, who has a body far from what is considered to be “perfect.” I can only hope she doesn’t begin to follow Parineeti’s example to feel beautiful– attempting to match societal standards of beauty won’t get her there and it likely never will. Even though Parineeti might claim you are “leaving the average behind,” you’ll just end up running into yourself.

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  1. Prachi Adesara

    Would you have written this article had she gained weight to become fit instead of losing it? So you'd be happy if no one in the world ever did anything to change their physical appearance? This isn't even drastic cosmetic surgery. If a teenage girl out there is reading these articles, and she does feel inspired to work at being healthy by exercising (healthy, not thin. Because that is exactly what Parineeti has done.), what is so terribly wrong with that? Parineeti's body in the images is not exactly the kind of “perfect” you speak of. She doesn't look like a bag of bones. What is with all these people labeling this as a body shaming campaign? What is your problem, exactly? Should people not work on themselves if they aren't completely happy? If an acne-ridden person starts making an effort to have clearer skin he/she's implying everyone else out there with acne is beneath them and needs to do so too?

    Do you not have real issues to write about? Since when did YKA become such a whiny platform?

    1. DN

      The idea is not to bash women of weight loss … by all means, go for it if it is possible … if toning muscles was the plan … if rigorous discipline is the plan … but what the author probably condemns is there is no reason to hype a body for mere cosmetic reasons … and the effort and the potential drain it comes up could be insane and if one cannot reduce weight, then Ms Chopra is not around to make appropriate disclaimers … Ms Chopra could've posted simpler pictures than sharing how smoking good her body can get … I am glad she succeeded but not all knows when to stop and not all can lose weight … and I prefer Farhan Akhtar's answer: apart from cosmetic end use meant of a character, a toned body is not of much use and he clearly differentiated health from cosmetic value.

      Ms Chopra seem to head in the opposite direction somehow …

    2. angel

      But why should she have to show simpler pictures of herself? She looks great and healthy. She is not
      Trying to put anyone down. Like it is wrong to body shame and I don't encourage that but being overweight poses health risks and lowers self esteem. I personally don't agree with the “love your body as it is” thing because you have to face the facts:being fat can seriously damage your health condition

    3. amaya

      Not always being overweight invites diseases,in rare cases being skinny can cause diseases too,its important to love your body the way it is more than physical health emotional well being is important,a positive outlook is important

    4. amaya

      Its important to love the body you have,because emotional and mental well being is important,not everybody has to be skinny to be healthy,being skinny invites trouble too,every country has eating disorder issues,its important to build confidence no matter what size you have.

  2. Bla

    Frankly, I think the perspective taken in this Article is wrong. Her photo-shoot has had a clear message of fitness and nowhere has it associated itself with being thin. She did this for herself and to promote fitness which is completely right. Not only teenage girls but everyone should see her as a person who has worked hard to achieve her level of fitness and is inspiring others to be fit as well.

  3. Shivanshika Shekhawat

    Well I don't completely agree with your views on parineeti's photoshoot. It is a major problem with people these days, everyone of us, that we keep searching for wrong in whatever is happening around us even if there is no need to do so. And this is not our fault. We have been treated this way for so long that we are bound to do that. What is wrong with this photoshoot and her celebration. We cannot deny the fact that all of us want to be fit, to have a great body and to feel good about it. I am not saying that being thin is being fit. And if a person gets motivated by her efforts and starts going for a morning walk, or starts doing aerobics, I don't think it would harm them. Doing some sort of physical exercise is important to keep us healthy and free from many diseases and it makes us feel refreshed. I agree with the point that excess of anything is bad, but it is giving a positive message all along. And this is not just about your body, this applies to whatever you do in your life. I agree that the girls should not take wrong message from it of being slim, going on harsh diets, etc. And about your “societal standards of beauty”, today's women are not led by society, rather they believe in doing what they feel is the right thing to do.
    So instead of finding out the wrong in everything, why not we start looking for the good in everything and we'll see that half of our problems will get solved automatically.
    So this new year, let's do that. Let's start picking up good things and leave the negatives behind.

    1. DN

      Being thin is being vata … a natural body type identified by Ayurveda. Slimming down is essential for Kapha because they will be burly but it's not necessary for pitta and vata. And may health be the reason …

  4. M

    Another looser writing why Parineeti makes her uncomfortable. Parineeti can't make you feel so bad about yourself if you somewhere already don't pin your identity to your weight. Its unhealthy to be fat. You can try to be better. Or you can be an idiot crying: “why is she saying I should be fit?” Do we stop glorifying beauty of the flower because the blind will feel offended? Idiot! No!

    1. Srinivas

      She might be wearing “looser” clothes but definitely not “looser”, do look up a spell checker or a dictionary online once in a while

  5. Parvina

    Why people can always took the positive side of stories , always had to be some other point that no one cares like I always say ” You can not win everyone nor everyone will love YOU!!!!

  6. Nilanjana

    As much as I respect the author's views .. I don't see anything wrong with putting in more effort to get a fitter body. Her photoshoot is inspirational. And nowhere does she mention anything on weigtloss. If people who don't wanna get off the couch because of lethargy are inspired by this. I don't see any harm in this.

  7. Gracy

    Ok, firstly I feel that the perspective taken in this article is completely wrong and Parineeti's intentions are not completly understood. Her purpose was to promote fitness, and motivation, not to make anyone feel insecure about their own appearance. She is not trying to promote something that is unachievable by an average citizen but rather her moto is that if I am able to achieve this, so would you. Furthermore if you look at her photoshoots, they promote strength and courage, not slim model figures which are achieved by starving oneself and becoming aneroxic which you mentioned in your article. This article seemed to be just for the sake of it, without any real purpose behind it. I think there are much more serious issues to address in our country rather than about a women who is trying to promote something good for once. You might have your opinions but frankly this was the most ludicrous and senseless article I have seen in a long time.

  8. Prathi

    Looks like the author has an axe to grind against people who endorse fitness through a proper fitness plan rather than taking short cuts like liposuction, slimming drugs, anorexia, etc. Should the author not highlight this point and Parineeti's sheer dedication instead? It indeed is inspiring when someone goes after their goals in a healthy way. Guess the author is unable to understand / unaware that unhealthy fat leads to ill-health one day or the other. And remember Ms. Supriya, over and above all this, Parineeti is in a profession which demands that she take good care of her physique, in case you didn't notice.

  9. chaandh

    She looked very good, chubby cheeks, rosy lips. Pari u look too too good, now why this ???????? yes you have to become little slim but dont expose too much.

  10. varun

    actually who is supriya ganesh to give judgment abut any1 on this planet???(leave alone parineeti chopra)

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