The Seeds Of Body Dysmorphia Were Planted When Bollywood Embraced The Size Zero Figure And It’s Alarming

zero figure

I was barely out of my tightly wound pigtails when I first heard of the term ‘zero figure’ – a term largely used to describe Bollywood actresses’ bodies. Being an citizen of planet oblivious, it took me some time to grasp the true meaning of it, given my disinterest in pop culture at the given time. And when I finally cared enough to make sense of it, my lack of disinterest seamlessly transitioned into a truckload of insecurities and body image issues as puberty decided to come knocking.

To break it down for you, ‘zero figure’ is an aesthetical narrative of how woman’s bodies in the late 2000’s were supposed to look, in mainstream Bollywood. Waif-like and highly unattainable – these being the pivotal signifiers of the said body type.

Entry Into Vernacular

zero figure

The earliest memories of the zero figure body type trace back to Kareena Kapoor’s portrayal of Pooja Singh a.k.a. Gudiya in the 2008 action flick ‘Tashan.’ Have I seen the movie? Nope. But do I have those swimsuit stills of Bebo coming out of the water etched into my being? YES. Credited with spearheading this zero figure craze in the industry – one that could be blamed for thrusting insecurities into all women as this was hailed as a standard -this one was a trend we couldn’t wait to see the back of. It would be, however,  a gross generalisation to consider this era the main perpetrator.

Cinema has long worshipped the skinny, white-passing woman as the ultimate diva, desirable of all the male attention. Let’s not forget the blonde bombshell era of the early 2000s as well.

The Tidal Wave

There was Aishwarya in Dhoom 2 giving her competitors a run for their money with her airtight performance as Sunheri with her impeccably styled wardrobe. She was then applauded for her body, and quite often the praises were generously reserved for her physical form than any acting prowess. The former Miss World was also excessively trolled for her changing body post birth on multiple red carpets and that goes to say how superficial and glib our devotion to actresses is in this country. Build you up to tear you down.

Return Of The Heroin Chic

‘Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’ – unwise words by Kate Moss in her problematic era. Safe to say, the flag bearer of the heroin chic body type, a step-sisterly metonym of ‘zero figure,’ Kate Moss perpetuated the zero figure body type back when it didn’t even exist. Then came instances of models surviving on tissues and water, just so they could flex their ribs poking out of the abdomen in order to pander to the stereotypes back then. And now as well, to quite an extent.

News to no one, this entire debacle is also responsible for fanning the disordered eating situation and how. Kareena allegedly underwent a rigorous diet plan to lose weight in a stipulated time to fit into the demands of the role. Lemon detox water is excellent, don’t get me wrong. It tastes good and nourishes my carb loving system to the T. But it’s not breakfast. It’s not a meal. It’s not even a appetiser for crying out loud. As a self respecting Gen Z would say, this one should’ve stayed in the drafts.

A Personal Account


Having been personally victimised by the ‘zero figure’ agenda merchandised to the nines, I not only have a bone to pick with creators responsible for their failings on the representation grounds but also us audiences, who leave no stone unturned when it comes to fat shaming women on the screen. We’re so used to watching thin women on screen that an attempted diversion (Halley’s Comet type beat) invites ridicule aplenty.

‘Why are you promoting obesity?’ is the first in the long list spiteful comments you’ll be faced with, god forbid you support real looking women on screen. No sir, I just like my body type being represented organically. I don’t want a medal, I don’t need a arc fuelled with performative wokeness to iterate your previous failings. Let me be. Exist. Like a normal person.

Also Read: The Sexist And Forgiving ‘Men Will Be Men’ Trope In Advertising Needs To Be Done Away With

- Digital Fashion Writer


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