Body-shaming is something which continues to plague the Pakistani media industry today. From shaming women for being to skinny to shaming them for not fitting “the idea size” or aesthetic "visual image" is a common thing for most actors who face discrimination for not conforming to the apparent perfect look or standard.
The issue has been a longstanding one which over time has worsened due to cosmetic procedures and a constant competition to keep up with beauty standards. In times before when a gap-tooth or curvy figure was considered a style statement and desired, has now been dethroned by the new psychological mindset of 'no flaws acceptable'.
Social media has played a part in the stimulation of increasing criticism for public figures especially, who are under constant scrutiny from the public to conform to certain norms set for them, as being authentic is now no longer in fashion. The side effects body-shaming has on one’s mental health has been generously discussed, by some celebrities themselves who have chosen to come out and talk about their own personal experiences.
Hareem Farooq is a renowned figure in the industry, yet she has disclosed several times how she’s been told to lose weight, as it is evidently more crucial than mastering her craft, to look “skinny” - and in turn when she loses weight she is targeted for that. The Dobara Phir Se actor claims that she has been pressurised consistently to look a certain way, despite being a reputable actor - 'my fat cells have nothing to do with my skill.'
Subsequently, a similar case of cyber-trolls harassing women about their appearance in the media industry is Armeena Khan’s. Armeena has revealed via her social media platform how she has been bullied and bashed and "slut-shamed" online. The actor expressed how she was shamed by cyber-bullies for exercising her right to free-will. The 'Janaan' star spoke up against hateful comments she received about... yes, her captions and pictures on her social media, opinions necessary apparently and a free pass for picking on the actress for her choice of pictures.
'I want to ask, (1) Why is it that the Pakistani female actresses are subjected to this poison? Secondly, I also note that a lot of these are by females. Why is that? Why is it that Pakistani females wish to attack Pakistani actresses in such a vicious manner. What have we done to you except entertain and create an industry that will benefit the economy, culture and arts of Pakistan. How is that a crime?'
In a now deleted post, the actress questioned what motivated such hate and abuse from bullies.
Hania Aamir is another celebrity who has experienced body-shaming after the Yasir Hussain incident in early 2019. She had shared her difficult struggle with acne last year, coming to the conclusion that she would not let it define her nor control the way she sees herself.
‘My skin has been better than before. But it made me wonder. Why is my skin defining me? Who has made these beauty standards that we always feel the need to match? Society?” she asked. She refuted the idea that beauty is defined by clear skin. “I know that the idea of being “perfect” is appealing to the majority but you don’t need to be an airbrushed flawless image to feel beautiful’
After her reveal, Yasir Hussain cracked yet another inappropriate and ill-timed joke, referring to Hania as “daanedar” when a fan asked him to describe her in one word. The Dil Ruba actor took to her own social media platform and slammed him, 'Degrading is not funny. I’m not laughing, no one is’, being vocal about self-acceptance and embracing any flaws you may think you have, Hania does not hold back when it comes to advocating self love.
Most recently, Zhalay Sarhadi, who has acted, modeled and been an integral part of the media industry discussed the topic of body shaming with Faisal Kapadia on ‘Keeping It Real With FK’,
'How can someone be a part of this business which is all about appearances, and not be body-shamed?' Zhalay revealed when asked about her own experience. She disclosed that the problem is not only the industry but the mindset, which constantly pressurises models to lose weight, in her own personal experience as well.
'From makeup artists to designers, especially other women around me, my contemporaries.'
It’s not only the industry which pressurises women in the spotlight to maintain a nearly impossible "perfect image" but other people around as well who impose an unrealistic concept of beauty which misconstrues the idea of authentic beauty and sends an unhealthy message to the world, especially impressionable young minds.
We applaud our strong women in the industry who speak out against body-shaming, more power to them!