Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the skinniest of them all?

Published: November 2, 2012

Enter any local gym and you will see a variety of shapes, sizes, ages, skin colours engaged zealously in the war against inches. DESIGN: IMAAN SHEIKH

It is the ultimate battle. The one that every woman in this region, blessed with the infamous sub continental curves, (that has driven many creatively verbose men to poetry and others to tears), has fought with – her shape! 

While some have returned home victoriously, embracing ‘sleeveless-ness’, skinny jeans and all forms of Western attire in all its glory before it was too late, others have taken their last breaths on the venomous treadmill, expressing their desire to enter heaven only if they were re-incarnated as a size zero!

Enter any local gym and you will see a variety of shapes, sizes, ages, skin colours engaged zealously in the war against inches. Gone are the days when ripped muscles and toned abs was strictly a male domain. Gender equality has taken a complete new meaning in the world of health and physical fitness. The most common breed to be found in these ‘fitness sanctuaries’ are:

The bored-but-not-willing-to-admit-it-housewives

They are usually found in clusters, idolising Bollywood fashionistas and hoping to return to a size that they never were in the first place! They are usually the proud owners of weight that can only be accumulated through several rounds of childbirth and extended periods of inactivity during early years of marriage. Although their case might sound hopeless, one has to stop, notice and commend their determination at the cause and the lively chatter that they add to the otherwise-sterile ambience.

The ‘must-be-botoxed’!

As you move on, you will also notice the perfect socialite with an already chiselled-to-perfection body. Once you are done cursing her and then God for all the injustices in the world, you then console yourself by mentally fabricating and calculating the number of cosmetic surgeries she ‘must’ have undergone in order to look and weigh like that.

Of course, nobody can look like that naturally! Right. Right, right??

The big fat career woman

Then of course, there is the quintessential career woman; suffering from the classic superiority phobia that has inevitably earned her a six figure salary, a lonely existence and all the extra pounds gained from the consumption of endless comfort food every night while convincing herself by repeating outdated clichés like ‘happiness is subjective’ and ‘you do not need a man to make you happy’ to herself.

Heart broken hormonal teenager

Standing out like a sore thumb in this world of twenty, thirty and forty some-things you will also find that occasional, self-conscious bitter teenager who has recently been surpassed for a thinner, hence hotter female proto-type by a young and very-hormonal love interest. And nothing spells revenge sweeter than hitting the gym and returning to school after two months, having lost a few pounds on the scale but gaining massive pointers on the HDI- Hormonal Desirability Index, far more effective and usual than the Human Development Index!

Spring chickens of yesterday

Lastly, there are the senior-most members of the gym. Although the heart brims with respect and admiration for their persistence and dedication to the noble cause, one cannot help but ignore the feeling of exhaustion and hopelessness that slowly engulfs the heart whenever you see them. They are a painful reminder of the endless nature of this battle – a battle that begins for most women at the onset of puberty and continues till the very end, at times, the end of either those extra inches and of the person itself, at others!

However, what is remarkable in all of this is how women who have absolutely nothing in common, belonging to completely different backgrounds, having experienced completely different lives manage to speak the same language, share each other’s pain and agony, and unite for one cause when it comes to one thing: the battle of shapes!

Read more by Sarah here or follow her on Twitter @sarahmunir1


Sarah Munir

A graduate from the Columbia Journalism School and is currently heading the Magazine Desk at The Express Tribune. She tweets @SarahMunir1 (twitter.com/SarahMunir1)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Nobody

    I think it’s tragic women (and sometimes men these days particularly) are still so obsessed with their own looks and have this need to gain approval from others about how good they look. Why? I’m a woman. I love the way I look, and not at all in a cocky way. I’m just very comfortable in the way I look to myself. I endlessly tell women (and men actually as male vanity is not uncommon nowadays) to stop obsessing over something trivial. The confidence you feel in your own skin will naturally shine through and people won’t dare to judge you or criticize your looks; love yourself enough to not allow others to define the way you feel. Don’t hate others for seemingly being ‘better looking.’ We’re not meant to all look the same. I’m all for staying in shape for health and grooming yourself to look like the best version of yourself, but I hate seeing low self-esteem coupled with this. Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/BajiPlease Baji Please

    @Nobody, It’s not called obsession or anything. Everyone should gym, whether you are slim or fast. It has numerous health benefits. Oh and author, good one. You are a wealth of information.Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/BajiPlease Baji Please

    You see looking good is a ‘high-maintenance’ job but being a medical person myself, I recommend everyone to shape themselves up for both looking good and staying healthy. Age is just a number.Recommend

  • Parvez

    The subject is old and hackneyed but your approach and simple tongue in cheek style of writing made this a great read. Recommend

  • Nandita.

    I remember reading a particular person’s blogs on ET and thinking , ” He needs to stop obsessing over inane and absolutely trivial issues. There’s more to you than your weight or height or the way you look. A person is much more than that. Be happy with who you are”

    But, off late,my thoughts on the subject have undergone a slight change. A person is definitely much more than his waist size but there’s no denying that the way you look plays a significant role in your life. It does, to a large extent ,shape the way many people perceive you and the way one sees himself or herself. Looking good makes one feel good. When people compliment me for being very tall or thin, it stays with me for a long time. Being complimented by people around you for some attribute ( physical or otherwise ) can do wonders to one’s confidence levels. So hit the gym/go for a run everyday and control what you eat to look the best you can.

    Having said that, it’s imperative to realize that outward beauty does fade and when it does, your worth or your value should not wither along with it. There’s no harm in striving hard to look gorgeous but other aspects of one’s personality should not be neglected. Striking a balance is important. Recommend

  • Ayesha Pervez

    There is great, great, great importance and value placed on how a woman looks like; if she is over weight in this day and age, then God help her.Recommend

  • Nobody

    @Baji Please:
    Yes and as I said, for health and general esteem and well being, it’s only a positive regardless of what your physique is. That’s not always the case and I’ve come across too many people who are simply doing it for the sake of looking good for OTHERS as opposed to looking and feeling good for yourself. That’s what I don’t like. Perhaps you misunderstood my comment. Please re-read it. Cheers. Recommend

  • samar.xy

    Or…maybe these ladies just want a healthier life style!Recommend

  • http://uptonogood.tumblr.com Red

    I hate it when women stereotype other women. I did not appreciate the mocking tone throughout this article. Many women go to the gym in order to be more healthy and not to meet society’s ideals of womanhood. Recommend

  • Dr Ilmana Fasih

    This is a sad piece from some one trained as a journalist. Fitness taken as a mockery, and for slimming, when it is to be looked upon for good health.Recommend

  • Hafsa

    This is really well written and funnyRecommend

  • ZQ

    Real gentlemen like curves only dogs like bonesRecommend