The ‘perfect’ pressure
With the ongoing debates on the lifestyle of late actor Sridevi, celebrtities from the film industry share their take on the moral policing of actors
Stardom comes with the onus of facing vitriolic comments from unknown people on social media and websites. In the world of glamour and glitz, actresses always come under scrutiny to look good or a certain way. More than their work, it has became the norm for people to criticise them for their fashion choices, looks and their too-good-to-be-true-skin at public appearances or even when they are spotted at airports. The accidental death of superstar Sridevi shocked the nation, but also led to some news channels unnecessarily debating on botox injections, cosmetic surgeries, fat-burners, and steroids, linking all of that to her death. At the same time, actress Amala Akkineni has broken the silence on ageing and the pressure of looking gorgeous. Sample some lines from her Facebook post:
Will you let me age gracefully without needing to comment on how tired I look or the weight I have gained?
Will you let me dress without feeling low self-esteem that I am not size zero anymore, nor that I wear the season’s couture? A washed hand loom engulfs me providing market to the looms, comfortably accommodating menopause.
Will you let me discuss meaningful things without interrupting the flow with questions on how I cook or what the season’s latest gossip demands?
Will you free me of the box office madness, the TRP wars, Page 3, the likes, the comments, the traps that menacingly surround everything we do? You have caught me in a time warp, a cage of fame, while my spirit is free.
Allow me a life, some privacy, to engage with humanity and the universe, with purpose, truth, compassion and some respect for those now gone.
In the wake of the heated arguments, actors feel that the public views them as dream beings who exist without imperfection. Actress Sana echoes Amala’s thoughts, “To the viewers we symbolise perfection, creating a larger-than-life persona which towers over their own lives. And no mistakes or imperfections are tolerated. So, there is the pressure to always look good, cheery and perfect so much so that it becomes inherent in the minds of the stars.” But aren't the floodlights are always more trained on the female actors? “Yes, of course. You cannot put on weight, get dark circles or those blotches because you are required to always look your best as a public figure. What people don’t understand is that we, too, age and have beauty issues like any common person. But the mindset is such that they refuse to accept us as normal human beings. Such is the price of stardom.”
At the same time, a lot of stars are said to have gone under the scalpel or are alleged to be taking hormone control medicines. Sana explains further, “We aren’t plastic or gods that we won’t age or get wrinkles. Ageing is bound to happen and we, even as stars, get old. For me ageing is graceful. Unfortunately, while women are blessed with the softer skin they are also burdened with a lot more responsibilities than men whether it’s running the household or selecting what’s to be cooked. Naturally, we age faster than men. But this idea of perfectionism puts women in the showbiz under more pressure to look perfect and not just good.”
And yes, men also do have some concerns. Actor Srikanth says it’s ridiculous for people to have expectations that an actor or an actress has to look perfect all the time. He explains, “I want to be myself and I like to wear whatever that makes me comfortable. For example, see Rajinikanth, he doesn’t apply makeup and likes to be simple. Thankfully, being a male actor, we are not subjected to such style trolls. But, for women, the pressure is constant. Unfortunately, they can’t escape from judgemental people who increasingly scrutinise them to dress specifically to maintain their age and respectability in public. It’s time people stop policing a celebrities for the way they dress well. There will be times when our dressing preferences fluctuate based on the mood, weather and where we go. You can’t expect flamboyance all the time.”
He admits there is nothing wrong if someone goes for bodily perfection. “People of all ages have the desire to look perfect or might have the belief that changing something on the outside will create a lasting improvement on the inside. So, it’s okay if it works for them. Who are we to judge? It’s their choice. Let’s respect their decision.”