I find that people are getting more covetous with time… Their perceptions about day-to-day things are leaning towards the bizarre slowly but steadily. Apparently, loud make-up, flashy clothes, being brand conscious and all that glittery razzmatazz with these fake, put on accents is what is ‘in’ and the rest of us are ‘out’. And to top that, a weird perception rules that only the ‘thin’ can be successful or look smart or make it big? What hogwash!! And how did bigotry get so rampant?

I was actually dumb-struck when I watched Vidya Balan being questioned by a reporter if she had thought about losing weight for glamorous roles? What kind of an idiotic question is that? I can only call someone who thinks like this: A dim-witted imbecile! Of course her response to this cretin was tasteful and tactful but she gave it back to him in a swift blow… I wouldn’t have been this kind in my retort, frankly speaking.

I cannot for the life of me understand the connection between her weight and her movie roles. She is an actor par excellence and isn’t that what matters and not her weight? Otherwise, it leads us to believe that Bollywood is ruled by the ‘skinny’ and the rest just melt away into thin air! Fat shaming seems to be in vogue in India…it is fashionable to criticise and look down upon people especially in our so-called metropolitan cities where I believe the ‘educated’ live? Do they?

While no one begrudges an individual's attempts to improve their health, the attention paid to the weight woes of these otherwise talented women is unsettling. Lauded as heroes when they shift a few kilos, they are seen as, well, big fat failures when they don't. And this alignment of form and function isn't the sole preserve of the entertainment world, either.

Recent studies show that overweight women across many sectors earn 12-15 per cent less than their non-obese counterparts, while also struggling with a lack of promotions and wrongful terminations. And that's if they can land a job in the first place! This shocking data once again shows discrimination at its peak.

Obesity discrimination is the last acceptable form of discrimination. An individual in the workplace must be judged on their intellect and not their size. Size has no relevance regarding an individual's workplace capabilities.

Despite shifts over history, women are still looked at and evaluated in relation to the way that they look more than men are. This scrutiny is not just about a woman's body, but about the values attached to it. A non-normative body invites questions about why it is that the woman being scrutinised doesn't conform to a particular model of femininity or beauty. There would be a range of reasons why women's appearances are the way they are, but often negative values that imply laziness or craziness are attached to this scrutiny.

I know for a fact that such discrimination exists abroad too but in India it is widespread and getting out of hand. On a recent holiday abroad, I was happy to notice that no one cared how you dressed and what you wore… Everyone has a life you know and it is not the other person’s life to concentrate on but your own. The words that reflected the general public walking on the streets was: Suave, Simple, Elegant and Classy! I was completely confident in my body and wore dresses and shorts without a hundred prying eyes either ogling or glaring at me. I could dress in the clothes I had always wanted to dress in and not feel uncomfortable.

Back home, I rarely dress the way I did in the Netherlands and in Spain. This is a real shame. The most unobtrusive outfits here get cat-calls and leers. Even an innocuous t-shirt and a pair of jeans are not demure enough for the public. It’s the way things have always been. The patriarchy has the country in its iron grip and the women collude with it. To speak out is to live a life of singular daily harassment. We don’t question it. We stick to our ‘traditions’ - traditions which dictate that female foetuses are routinely aborted and female new-borns murdered and that’s just scratching the surface. This shaming goes much deeper.

It is a known fact that disrespectful treatment and medical fat shaming, in an attempt to motivate people to change their behaviour, is stressful and can cause patients to delay health care seeking or avoid interacting with providers. Some people, especially those in the public eye, are forced to look to professionals to help them present themselves in the best way possible. This is where an image consultant comes in. Unfortunately both these areas have turned into money-making businesses as they live off people’s shortcomings, fears and inhibitions. It is a vicious circle. You are moulding a person into something that they are not and people are paying big money to change into something that isn’t them to begin with.

I firmly believe, every person is unique in their own way and if left to themselves, without the added baggage of peer pressure, social norms, various discriminations, they will bloom in their natural manner and stand out as individuals. Self-empowerment must come from within…the confidence…the glow…the inner beauty and not be forced under unnatural circumstances. The strange norm of ‘changing’ for other’s perception is leading to full-fledged narcissists!

Sexist micro aggressors are around – they exist on structural levels and personal levels and in many cases they are entrenched in our culture and society. But we need to be aware, and we need to deal with them swiftly and boldly.