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Why Strong Is The New Pretty

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Body shaming is officially being shamed now. From men breaking away from the sculpted stereotypes peddled in ads to show off their  ‘dad bods’  to  model Chrissy Teigen tweeting an image of her stretch marks and inspiring hundreds of women to post images of their post-pregnancy bodies. To ‘mom bods’  with their saggy bellies and ‘’tiger stripes,’  trending with pride,  the invisible millions who have been discouraged and demoralised by impossible standards of perfection are striking back to show the world that the real and the imperfect can be beautiful too.

As advertising companies and fashion magazines negotiate the difficult space between trying to be sensitive to the changing  perceptions about beauty and what constitutes it, and selling the aspirational idea of perfection, there are parents who nip trouble where it first rears its head. In the toys sold to little girls and boys.

Sonia Singh, a mother from Tasmania in Australia, uses a ‘’make under’’ technique to normalise the glossy fashion conscious dolls sold to little girls by companies. She uses nail polish remover and eucalyptus oil to clean the dolls’ faces and remove heavy lipstick tints, adult eye shadows and even their eyes. She then puts in place childish innocence that needs no glamour. Her dolls are an Internet sensation because they remind so many of us of how easily we buy into mass marketed and oversexualised body imagery and even subject our children to its tyranny.

Another idea that is sweeping the Internet is the  “Strong Is The New Pretty” photo series that questions the notion that young girls and women must look a certain away to be accepted. The photographer behind it is Kate T Parker, a former college athlete and marathon runner who has nailed the Ironman Triathlon.

The photo series shows her two daughters in unselfconscious play sessions enjoying races, rollerblading and more and the pictures resonate with power and the enjoyment of purpose. These girls do not preen to appease a certain approving gaze.  They are themselves and that is a big statement to make in a world cluttered with stereotypes for women.

Kate wrote in her blog, “My girls know that who they are is just perfect. Being themselves is enough for us. And ultimately, for them, too… that’s the goal, at least.They don’t need to have their hair done, clothes matching, or even be clean to be loved or accepted.”

More and more women are beginning to assert themselves to break out of the moulds imposed on them and recently, a new item informed that actor Barkha Madan, remembered for her role in Ram Gopal Varma’s Bhoot, has become a Buddhist nun.

This may not be the path for everyone but she is one of the many who are finally thinking outside the roles designated for them and to play the parts they want to. Unapologetically and without fear.

 Pic credit: Photo campaign ‘Strong Is The New Pretty,’

images (4) with The New Indian Express  Reema Moudgil works for The New Indian Express, Bangalore, is the author of Perfect Eight, the editor of  Chicken Soup for the Soul-Indian Women, an artist, a former RJ and a mother. She dreams of a cottage of her own that opens to a garden and  where she can write more books, paint, listen to music and  just be silent with her cats.

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