Vidya Balan Celebrates Body Positivity at IFFI 2023: “My Size Has Never Mattered to Me in Front of the Camera”

In a refreshing and empowering statement at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2023, Bollywood actress Vidya Balan emphasized that her size has never been a hindrance in her career or affected her confidence in front of the camera. The acclaimed actress, known for breaking stereotypes and championing body positivity, shared her thoughts on self-acceptance and the importance of embracing one’s unique qualities in the entertainment industry.

She has shattered the glass ceiling on multiple fronts, transcending barriers through her compelling characters on screen and triumphing over personal body issues that she transformed into sources of strength. Balan’s journey has been a testament to resilience and self-empowerment, marking a stark departure from a time when her physical appearance garnered more attention than her prolific body of work. Today, she purposefully relegates that phase to the past, choosing to revisit it only as a means of inspiring countless women who face relentless scrutiny for their weight and outer appearance. Vidya Balan’s story is one of triumph over societal expectations, a narrative that echoes far beyond the silver screen and resonates with those seeking courage and self-acceptance in the face of judgment. Her career has been marked by a series of powerful performances in films that celebrate women of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds. From “The Dirty Picture” to “Tumhari Sulu,” Balan has effortlessly portrayed characters that defy societal expectations, earning accolades and admiration for her versatility as an actress.

Engaging in a dialogue with actor-politician Vani Tripathi Tikoo during a masterclass focused on Women and the Glass Ceiling at the 54th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa, the discussion delved into significant themes surrounding women’s empowerment and the challenges posed by societal limitations. Vidya said, “I had realized I was only sending hate towards my body. I was constantly saying, ‘You are not what I want you to be’ (noted here). And therefore, I was constantly falling sick. I started working with a healer 12 years ago and I realized that you are abusing the very thing that’s keeping you alive.” She also added that the moment she started being “thankful” to her “body and breath” for keeping her alive, she started believing in it. “It has been a game-changer since then, because today, however, I wake up in the morning, I feel good about myself, and on days I don’t, I then tell myself, ‘It’s okay, tomorrow will be a new day. Let me live with what I am feeling today’. Sometimes, your body also expresses your emotions whether you feel tired, angry, jealous, grateful, hurt, tearful or whatever, but that doesn’t make you smaller. I had started to feel small in my bigness, and that’s ridiculous. It was almost like I was cowering.” (noted here).

The actor emphasizes that one thing she will forever be grateful to God for is that- “My size has never mattered to me when I face the camera. I love the camera so much I trust it so much that I believe that it will always love me back.” (noted here). She also gives a piece of advice to people who are judged by society by saying- “Forget about how they are judged, how do they judge themselves is important. When you look into the mirror, how you feel. And if you don’t feel good, it’s okay. We are humans and we have good and bad days, but fake it till you make it. Tell yourself that I love and accept myself, a little more every day, and it really works. We women have allowed our bodies to form such a large part of our identities.” (noted here).

Affirming that aspects related to our body can both bring honor and shame to a family, Vidya asserts that such matters have the potential to significantly impact our confidence, particularly when subjected to external comments. Elaborating on this, she emphasized- “If you have put on weight, you feel like you are undesirable, unworthy. If you shed, you suddenly feel like maybe you deserve a little more in life. It is ridiculous because your body is what’s keeping you alive and it must be honoured at all costs. I also learnt this very important lesson a few years ago because I have had my struggles, which you have all known and it’s out there for everyone who have seen me through the years.” (noted here).

In an industry where unrealistic beauty standards have often been the norm, Balan’s unwavering commitment to authenticity and self-acceptance has resonated with audiences. Her message at IFFI 2023 serves as a reminder that talent and passion should take precedence over physical appearance, encouraging a more inclusive and accepting environment in the entertainment world.

Published by HOLR Magazine.