Turn to a page in any celebrity magazine or website and sure enough there’ll be a remark from someone about the appearance of a celebrity. Whether it’s a snide comment at an actress’s choice of outfit or pointing out that they’ve gained a few kilos, it’s become all too common that these are accepted points of daily discussion.
But what kind of message is this sending to young girls? The ones who’ve already grown up playing with Barbie dolls that have less than ideal body proportions and watch Disney films where inadequate portrayals of life are projected on the screen. The girls who then go on to read these types of magazines, which at the same time are sending conflicting messages and telling us that we should love our bodies while pointing out flaws in celebrities.
When it comes to body image and how we perceive and are perceived, let’s face it. We just can’t win.
And that’s why I want to introduce you to Mindy Kaling. She’s a force to be reckoned with, having made a name for herself as a writer, actress, comedienne and producer. Fans will love her for her work on The Office and The Mindy Project, and last year Entertainment Weekly named her one of the “50 Coolest and Most Creative Entertainers” in Hollywood. But as inspirational as she is for her work, it’s her view on body image that makes her my idol.
I recently read an article by Elissa Strauss that outlines why Mindy Kaling is the body positive icon of the moment. Strauss compares her to Lena Dunham (Girls) who’s known for her portrayal of Hannah Horvath and the character’s “couldn’t give a sh*t what you think” attitude, noting that when it comes to appearances, Mindy Kaling absolutely cares about what she looks like, both as herself and her character on screen.
She likes to wear flattering clothing and often speaks of her conflicted relationship with food and exercise; and in a recent interview with Vogue, she unleashed this gem:
“There’s a whole list of things I would probably change about myself. For example, I’m always trying to lose 15 pounds. But I never need to be skinny. I don’t want to be skinny. I’m constantly in a state of self-improvement…”
And this is why we should all be a little bit more like Mindy Kaling. In an entertainment world saturated with stick thin models and actresses who are always trying the latest diet craze, she looks at the positives and focuses on the things she loves – writing, producing, dressing in gorgeous figure-flattering clothing and eating damn good food as her Instagram pictures would suggest – rather than on a desire to be thin. And she accepts that.
Now I’ll be the first to admit that there are definitely some things I’d love to change about my body. First and foremost would be my height. My license says 162cm but I’m pretty sure I barely scrape past the 160cm mark. My family are a bunch of shorties and that’ll never change (unless I procreate with someone much taller and keep my fingers crossed that our kids inherit his genes). Secondly, my wide-set hips. While the fat can disappear from that area (and it has been), my bone structure will always be the same.
It’s taken me years to accept my body for what it is today and as much as I’d love to be taller or have smaller hips, I know that will never happen and I’m okay with it. If these are the biggest complaints I could have of all the problems in the world, then I’m doing all right.
So next time you look in the mirror, I want you to challenge yourself. Don’t stand there and notice all of the imperfections or the things you wish you could change about yourself, instead find a reason to love them. Not overly fond of your big hips like I am? Well they’ll come in very handy when you’re trying to squeeze out that watermelon of a baby in ten year’s time. What about those small breasts you’re always feeling insecure about? Well you’ll be glad you have them when you hit your sixties and can only watch as your larger counterparts fall victim to the cruel nature of gravity, having to purchase spacesuit material undergarments to hoist those things up.
Too often we focus on the negatives and lose sight of the good things we have right in front of us. There’s not one person in this world that will ever be entirely happy with how they look, but you only have to turn to your friends who’ll rightfully put you in your place and instantly make you feel a whole lot better about yourself. Trust me. Or you can pick up a copy of Mindy Kaling’s book, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)”. Either way, it’s time we all looked a little more on the brighter side of life.