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Aishwarya Rai and the bonfire of vanities

Posted by on May 28, 2012

I saw Aishwarya Rai’s photographs from Cannes while I was still in Melbourne. Yes, the one in the Elie Saab floor length number. It seemed unreal. Almost as if someone had placed a thin Aishwarya in front of a funny mirror, the kind they have at amusement parks, and then published her distorted mirror image. Aishwarya in her Elie Saab reminded me of Queen Latifah; not only because of her XL size, but also because of how content and confident she appeared, presenting herself to the world in her new avatar.

Over dinner that night, we caught up with a few students from MBS and Aishwarya’s weight gain became a topic for discussion. Everyone had an opinion and most of them were unfavourably harsh. “How could she do this to herself?” the women asked. “She looks gross!” said the men.

Aishwarya Rai

The stunner who stunned the world

As a woman who had been through two pregnancies herself, I can vouch for the fact that it is not easy to bid adieu to your pre pregnancy girl like body for the sake of procreation. Nature gives you nine months to prepare not just for childbirth but also to help you make a bonfire of vanities. In the first trimester you are mostly too sick to look or feel good. In the second trimester your body starts to expand inordinately and unflatteringly. By the third trimester your rib cage, your feet and in some cases (like mine) even your nose expands. By the time you are ready to deliver you are looking like a whale and indeed feeling like one too.

You would think that once the baby is out you will go back to happily wearing your old jeans again. But unless you are Victoria Beckham, Kate Moss or my friend Mallika, chances are, that isn’t going to happen to you in this lifetime. The baby is out and you are now just a barrel albeit an empty one.

However, the thing about motherhood is that this life outside of you leaves you feeling grateful even as it takes up every ounce of your emotion and leaves you feeling bovine, mostly on account of your new job profile.

This is the happy sacrifice most of us ordinary women make to become mothers.  How much harder must it be for a woman like Aishwarya Rai, known and cherished for her beauty the world over, to trade her whole identity as a ‘beauty queen’ for motherhood? She could have gone on a diet and hired the best personal trainers to shed the extra kilos but since she has chosen to be a hands-on mum weight loss is not her priority at the moment.

A lot of the beauty business as we know, is about being obsessed with the self. If Aishwarya has chosen to be obsessed with her baby instead, we should not only grant her that, we should laud her for it.



10 Responses to Aishwarya Rai and the bonfire of vanities

  1. kiranmanral

    Agree completely with you. Aishwarya has never looked better to me than in that Elie Saab gown. Her confidence is what blows you away. Here’s what I had written way back about our obsession with her weight:

    • shunalishroff

      Just read it. Yes we think the same, only you write better. I too was shocked when I saw her looking ballooned out in that dress and maybe I would have chosen something that was less snug but maybe she wants to make a point of it. Some other foolish person wrote on Twitter that she should not have gone to Cannes and let Sonam Kapoor enjoy the red carpet alone. Her trip to Cannes are part of her L’Oreal contract.And Sonam Kapoor is only the Indian ambassador/endorser of L’oreal while Ash is the worldwide ambassador of the same.

  2. Sunita

    Well I agree its completely the individuals choice to decide on one’s body or how to divide time. There is nothing wrong in being fat. But the point is people look up to Aishwarya as an inspiration. They want the person whom they think as perfect to be perfect always.

    More to that if a neighbor puts on weight the whole colony talks about it even if they themselves are not slim. Aishwarya is a public figure, so the whole public is talking about it and giving opinions. In this situation no body is wrong or right .

    • shunalishroff

      You are right. We are all entitled to our opinions. I have an opinion on Ash’s outfit myself and that is not a highly favorable opinion I daresay. However, I don’t think it is appropriate to create role models that mislead. Women do gain weight due to pregnancies and many strive to knock it off to go back to their svelte body forms from pre-pregnancy. To me, it is a huge relief to have a stunner like Ash care a damn about her weight at this point in time. My priorities were no different after my own kids were born and I can relate with how she feels. I feel it is a bit shallow if as a society we want a woman to look skinny and beautiful at all times, even shortly after childbirth.

  3. Anubha Charan

    I agree with you completely – and kudos to Aish for not only being a normal mom (and thereby functioning as a reality check for the rest of the world) but also not hiding away at home despite her new and very natural silhouette. This is what I wrote about the topic a while back:

    Though I do think the problem at Cannes was not her weight but knowing how to dress to suit her shape. And to be honest, she has not exactly looked the greatest at Cannes even when she was rake thin 🙂

    • shunalishroff

      I am with you that Ash should have dressed to suit her shape. Which is why I have compared her to Queen Latifah. If you can’t recall how she looks, I suggest you google Queen Latifah. I would go with something that is more flattering to my silhouette rather than flash the lack of curves on my body. She seems to be bursting at the seams in the Elie Saab. Going to read your blog now.

  4. Abhiraj

    Agree with you but I was just surprised she doesnt care about her career. I think that the perception of “the most beautiful woman in the world” has been shattered with this picture. Having said that, kudos to her for not giving a damn and embracing pregnancy/motherhood/weight/age and not hiding in the dark.

    • shunalishroff

      “Shattered” is the absolute right phrase to use Abhiraj given the proportions of the lady. Her choice of clothes has never been her strength and the Elie Saab this year defies all logic. Maybe she is keen to have a few more babies before she knocks off the bulk or maybe she could not be bothered with her career at this point or perhaps she takes it for granted. If I was her, I would be depressed right now. But she is doing a good job of being happy. Or so it seems.

  5. SimiG

    Yes we should laud Ash for that…and applaud you! Well done – great writing!

  6. shefali

    shun, after 2 babies and not getting into my figure hugging dresses i couldn’t agree with you more. but however much of weight we put on.. one decides to dress accordingly.. she didn’t need to be in that dress.. she does look horrendous.. but then she’s always made a fashion spectacle of herself time and again..

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