We have always been obsessed with the ideal female body shape. The perfect female body shape has evolved across history, changing depending on the needs, ideals and fashions of different cultures.
In prehistoric times, women needed to have large and healthy childbearing bodies as a means of survival.
Plus-size body shapes were idealised during the Italian Renaissance for a different reason. Weight was a sign of wealth, so ‘rubenesque’ figures with round bellies and thick thighs became the pinnacle of beauty in art and high society.
Fast forward to today. While the extreme hourglass has been popularised by Kim Kardashian, the rise of the body positive movement has seen more women embrace the body they’re in. Body positivity is about being unashamedly you, whatever your shape or size.
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There has never before been more diversity in the media we consume.
Plus-size models are everywhere: on the covers of magazines, in advertising campaigns and walking the runway. Models like Ashley Graham, Iskra Lawrence and Tara Lynn are becoming household names. One such name is Mumbai-based Anjana Bapat.
Software programmer and plus-sized model Anjana Bapat is a picture of confidence, and a strong advocate for body positivity. However, she admits that things weren’t always this way.
When she was in school, she was bullied and constantly shamed for her size. As a result, she spent her growing years uncomfortable with her body.
Certain incidents from her teenage years are burnt into her mind, like what happened the day before her class 10 board exams. She was stressed about the English paper the following day when her uncle came home. With an expression of disgust, he demeaned Anjana by telling her how she didn’t look her age and went on for almost three hours about how she should lose weight.
When Bapat was in her 20s, her friends began to encourage her to come out of her shell and embrace her size.
A large part of the credit for her self-acceptance goes to her friend, Priyanka, and the women in her family.
She then started taking lessons in belly dancing. Around this time, a friend told her about a call for auditions to a play. She wasn’t so keen at first, but belly dancing got her a role in the play which ran for more than two years.
In 2016, she decided to finally audition for a plus-size brand, ALL, which she had read about for months. Amongst hundreds of contenders, Anjana emerged in the top ten, one of the first batches of plus-size models to emerge from an open platform in India.