***Guest Post Follows***
(Thanks and hugs to Carolyn for the space to tell you all what I’m seeing and feeling about bodies, beauty, food and culture while I’m here in Mumbai. I’ll be your on-the-road correspondent until the end of June!)
Women’s bodies are the same, all over the world. Right?
I mean, we all shift and get wrinkles as we age. We all have boobs and hips. In any culture, some might have smaller hips than others, and some have bigger biceps. A cross-section of women in a culture have the same categories of differences, even if in some places the range of difference may be more (or less) dramatic. So we’re the same. Right?
Well, yes and no.
As I sit in my office in Mumbai and see the women of my office interact, I don’t hear them talking in negatives about their bodies. I don’t hear that they’re on diets, or that they’re counting calories (or fats, or carbs, or proteins, or anything). Their vegetarian choices happen mainly on religious holidays, and they always bring a tiny piece of sweet or chocolate (only 1 bite!) to have with a cup of tea or coffee in the afternoon.
And they dress loving their curves. One thing to think about here in India is that the sari is worn by all walks of life, by all ages of women. I've seen both Aishwarya Rai Bachchan AND my colleague’s 72-year old mother look stunning in saris, the only difference in the saris (which the grandmother of 4 was proud to say) was the color. The curves were there for both of them, but the beauty wasn't in how much of the curves we saw; it was how the colors and sparkle of the fabric made these women glow.
And I think that speaks a lot for all of us who look in the mirror and hear the voices saying that we simply should not be satisfied with what we see, whatever our size or shape. If we took size numbers out of the equation, along with pants that are built to hug hips and shirts cut to accentuate the bust… If we all wore the same basic cuts of clothing…how much would our perceptions of our bodies change?
Someone once told me (you know who you are) that I have the “good curves” for a sari. But I think that I look at that compliment differently now. I see that there is no such this as a “right or wrong” curve in a sari.
To Indian women, feminine body shapes are pretty much all the same. The only real question of beauty is whether or not you glow.