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POSTPARTUM BLUES: If Aishwarya Rai's weight gain and the barest hint of cellulite on a celebrity are capable of sending people into a frenzy, is it any wonder why 'normal' people are under such intense pressure to be slim?
BOLLYWOOD goddess Aishwarya Rai is now a bigger star than she once was. Literally. Anti-fat supremacists everywhere have and continue to post malicious comments on Internet forums about her "disgusting" post-pregnancy weight gain.
It's been six months and Rai should be ashamed, they screech.
Some are positively incensed with rage and have put up comments more vile than those seen on social networks post-Bersih 3.0.
It is as if Rai had committed something criminally wrong, or brought shame to her homeland.
Bizarrely though, they think she had -- "She had brought disrepute to her country," one particularly livid person ranted.
"I think she looks disgustingly fat. There is no excuse to not be back to one's normal weight within one month tops after giving birth," one commenter wrote while presumably picking on her bowl of carrot sticks and boiled cabbage.
"The woman is in the PUBLIC eye! Her baby is 7 months old and she looks like she gave birth yesterday! Not to mention she has a double chin!", and "Fat, fat, fat, fat, fat, fat PIG! I would DIE if I was as fat as she is!", others posted.
Rai, considered a national treasure in her homeland, is a former Miss World and married to the son of one of India's best-loved stars. She was "the most beautiful woman in the world" but going by recent developments, it is safe to assume that quite a number of people don't think so any more.
Tongues started wagging on the Internet after a recent video entitled "Shocking! Fat Aishwarya Rai!" went viral on YouTube, receiving over half a million views.
The video, posted by a group called "Bollywood CIA", shows the star in all her post-pregnancy glory, with the sound of an elephant trumpeting in the background.
Now, google "Aishwarya Rai fat" and one will be perplexed by the sizeable number of search results -- over three million. "Feed hungry children" does not even come close. Is it any wonder that women the world over are willing to starve, sweat or suck their fat away after delivering their bundles of joy?
Those in the public eye definitely have it much worse. The pressure to be a yummy mummy is more intense.
Celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, who lost whatever excess weight she carried the split second after giving birth and was back tottering in vertiginous heels at parties a week later, do not help.
Rai is not the only celebrity who has had to bear this weighty burden. Other targets have included Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, Nigella Lawson and, most recently, Adele.
Even Oprah Winfrey has had to deal with her share of fat jokes. Her weight fluctuations were issues of global concern, overshadowing even revolutions in the Middle East, and the Mayan countdown to Armageddon.
Back home, we have Andrea Fonseka, Miss Malaysia Universe 2004. Many had wondered then how she could represent the country in a beauty pageant with a global audience. She has since slimmed down.
If a "muffin top" or the barest hint of cellulite on a celebrity is capable of sending people into a rabid frenzy, is it any wonder why "normal" people are under intense pressure to keep up with the current cultural standards of an ideal appearance?
Is it such a shock that eating disorders, especially among women, are on the rise?
What's "ideal" in terms of looks now is not what it used to be. By today's standards, Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren and Jane Russell, all sex symbols in their time, would be considered fat, or to be more politically correct -- plus-sized.
After all, most "role models" for girls these days look as if they have been drained of all bodily fluids.
Most, if not all, can convincingly impersonate fish sticks.
Unless one is horrifically obese and suffering from a life-threatening disease, or worse, unable to get out of a chair without the help of a crane, why the pressure to lose weight?
Rai has been open about the fact that she is in no hurry to lose the few extra pounds she gained during her pregnancy.
If she has no problem with it, neither should anyone else.