India has a myriad of political and social issues on its plate: the election of the nation’s 13th president, eradicating the oppressive dowry system, minimizing its fiscal deficit, increasing infrastructure investment to keep up with its burgeoning economy, upholding child labor rehabilitation schemes and controlling unemployment rates.
Amid these pressing concerns is apparently another matter of equal importance: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s post-baby weight gain.
Once dubbed as the “world’s most beautiful woman,” the Bollywood actress was predictably met with an onslaught of a criticism over her weight following the birth of her daughter, Aaradhya Bachchan last November.
Taking a turn away from the “mommyrexia” cult that’s taken Hollywood by storm, Aishwarya’s failure to morph into the twig-sized Victoria Beckham nearly eight months after her delivery has continued to spark a flurry of concerns, with some proclaiming it her “duty” to get svelte.
Her fans (if you can even call them that) berated the new mom with a deliciously inventive panoply of insults, from the much superfluous comments regarding her double chin, to the harsh “before-and-after” video that even features sound bites of an elephant in the background.
While many of the comments have branded the YouTube video, titled “Aishwarya Rai’s Shocking Weight Gain,” “disgusting” and “pathetic,” others have expressed agreement with the sentiments. One comment says: “The woman is in the public eye. Her baby is seven months old and she looks like she gave birth yesterday. … Sorry, many of us have had kids and worked hard to lose it. Motherhood doesn’t give you [a] license to be overweight.”
Cinema professor Shohini Ghosh told The Guardian: “There is a glorification of motherhood in India and Indian cinema. But people are confused because they don’t know whether to glorify Aishwarya in her new motherhood or lament that she is not looking like a runway model.”
It is likely that such a conflagration of criticism was sparked due to the recent success of her Bollywood counterparts in shedding the stubborn baby pounds. Lara Dutta and Shilpa Shetty have both flaunted their perfectly sleek bodies just months after their pregnancy. Aishwarya clearly hasn’t felt the pressure to look skinny. In fact, the former Miss World has made it clear that she has instead chosen to spend as much time with her baby as possible, leaving the ab crunches and celery for a later time.
Medically speaking, a woman should wait at least two months after delivery before trying to lose weight. Quick weight loss where the mother compromises on her intake of certain food groups is sure to affect the health of the baby and mother. Beyonce’s no nonsense, pilates-cardio workout combination, along with her strictly vegetable-only diet may have made it possible for her to lose a whopping 27 kilograms in less than four months after giving birth to daughter Blue Ivy, but Aishwarya’s slow and steady drive to reach her ideal weight goal is a healthier strategy for new moms to follow.
Refusing to let the cruel weight jibes spoil her baby bliss, the 38-year-old “Bride and Prejudice” actress stepped out in all her baby weighty glory at the red carpet in Cannes — a place that conventionally hosts a wealth of skinny starlets. Dazzling in an elegant Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla golden embroidered ensemble with her hair structured in a sophisticated updo, she stepped before those flashing bulbs with dignity and poise.
Being the subject of constant media scrutiny hasn’t dampened Aishwarya’s confidence. Although the pressure to return to her former figure has heightened, Aishwarya’s ignoring of the frustrating tirades makes her a role model to “real” women out there who can’t afford to splurge on fancy nutritionists and spend hours and hours at the gym.
If Aishwarya Rai Bachchan can turn a blind eye to the matter — despite whatever animal people on the internet liken her to — it only goes to show that a little baby weight isn’t anything worth staying home for.
Neha Nathani is an intern at the Jakarta Globe