Slim is weak and healthy is fat? Are women a flock of sheep?

Published: April 25, 2013

If you are slim, they call you weak, and if you are chubby and healthy, they call you fat. PHOTO: FILE

Submerged in a conversation with my friend a few days ago, she suddenly looked at me and quipped,

“Oh, I wish I was as thin as you.”

As per ritual, I started blabbering about how healthy she was, how her weight suited her and that she should embrace and flaunt it rather than complain about it.

A few seconds later, I joined her and started complaining about how extremely petite I was and how I wish I was slightly athletic looking. We spent almost fifteen minutes cursing, complaining, then patting each other on the back and consoling each other.

The conversation went on and my friend told me how the Egyptians and people of the Middle Eastern countries like their women to be a bit heavy rather than the slim, stick figures people prefer here. I agreed and we went on discussing this.

This was when it occurred to me how unrealistic and amusing the conditions for beautiful women are in all the societies. Think about it, majority of the people here prefer women to be petite and slim. However, there are some who consider heavy women beautiful and skinny women not that attractive. This became evident to me when my grandmother, who was at our place, was staring at my nine-year-old sister’s Barbie doll and after a long and hard evaluation, she said,

“Why do you think she is pretty? Look at her skinny legs.”

Even if you get out of Pakistan and look around the rest of the world, you will be astounded. At first, there was an emphasis on extremely slim figures but now there is a new trend; the hour glass figures, where celebrities like Kim Kardashian tell girls to embrace their curves. This shows some hope but there is still a lot of confusion because if you are slim, they call you weak, and if you are chubby and healthy, they call you fat.

And it does not only stop at the issue of weight; even the size of feet is a disputed issue. By the 19th century, Japanese women had to wear small wooden shoes regardless of the size of their feet to stop the growth of their feet as small feet were considered as a sign of beauty, femininity and possibly a good marriage.

Therefore, according to the Japanese, the foundation of a prestigious marriage was the size of the woman’s feet. That is still the case here, where brides go on a strict diet of only boiled vegetables and severe gym routine to attain the perfect weight for the most amazing day of their life.

Our conversation ended when I blurted out angrily,

“This constant criticism and evaluation of our physique and appearance from head to toe, makes me feel as if we, women, are a bunch of sheep being picked for Bakra Eid, where every customer has a different requirement.”

My friend broke out laughing, nodded, took out a bar of KitKat and started nibbling on it forgetting her diet plan or weight issues for the remaining hour and the world was beautiful again.

Read more by Shahla here.

Shahla Hameed

Shahla Hameed

A Mass Communication from NUST Islamabad, Shahla loves to read and has a passion for sketching and drawing.

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

  • Asjad

    When you would like to remove a tag from yourselves, you would also have to also De-attach with the things you love that come with the tag i.e. expensive clothing, asking your bf meeting how do I do? By uploading by pictures of yourselves on different forms and making (or voluntary) friends comment on it you look so cool, I wish I had straight hair…its simple society is judging you with same measures you use to judge yourselves…so no more fair n lovely no more instragram or stuff…No more 50 year old highly professional working women standing in front of 20 years old and asking them how does my dress look…

    (by you I mean majority women, exception to the rule does come in) Recommend

  • Umer

    Well, the shifting quicksand of human perception would always make us do silly things. Just the other day I was reading Carl Sagan’s book Billion & Billions which is one of the very vest books on the dangers of these kinds of stupidity in the age of immense technological advancement. He comments on the color perception that we intrinsically have no color at all and its just a matter of light reflection that makes the difference. Black people have greater enzymes called Melanin which absorb the white light and reflect a darker shade, thus giving rise to black color. White people lack, and in some cases have no, Melanin. On the other hand, due to this very lack, white people have greater exposure to ultraviolet rays and hence have greater risk of skin cancer. He drives his point home by saying:

    “It makes no sense to describe individuals with high melanin content as ‘colored’ than it does to describe individuals with low melanin content as ‘bleached'”

  • Sarah

    I think you are right. in our society, we, the females, are not taught how to accept ourselves and how to accept the compliments and praise. we blush or deny that what is being said is right and that it is our positive point.
    also i think now the beauty parameters are changing, instead physical symmetry and apporpritae BMI are the need of the town. we need to prmote health rather then diet and being slim and having glass hour physique. no everyone can be size zero or model…so we need to accept and learn that fact. Recommend

  • I am a Khan

    Its the same on both sides. Not just girls, now even guys are judged by their looks! A friend of mine was rejected by a beautiful girl’s parents because he was balding, was overweight and too tall (I think he is a perfect 6ft 1) even thought this guy is doing a very good job, well settled and very well mannered. Speaking of myself, I have an athletic built, 5′ 11″ height, no issues of balding (have good hair), average looks, but I was rejected by loads of people because of a slight defect in my hand. If I go to visit my relatives wearing a smart outfit, clean shaven, they all complement me saying ‘you are looking smart today’. If by mistake I go in to visit someone in a casual shalwar kameez and unshaved stubble, they tell me ‘Majnu banay kyun phir rahe ho?’ 20 years ago people never judged men by their beauty but now the media has corrupted people’s minds. So both the girls and the boys are in the same predicament.Recommend

  • Rakshinda

    This article could have been MUCH better if it wasn’t ONLY a story of you and your carefree friend.Recommend

  • Hardliner

    I prefer slightly healthy women :-DRecommend

  • Lost & Found

    It’s very simple :

    Only Dogs like bones…….

    and no pakistani likes skinny type they want healthy girls with reasonable weight not the 90% skeletons walking around our cities……. Recommend

  • Hafsa

    Huh~!! Story of my life…!!
    I hope soon there is a fashion of fat girls and all the slim ladies have to eat soo much that they cant even take it anymore…and suffer…like we suffer when we have to strave ourselves…!! Recommend

  • Hardliner

    @Lost & Found:

    Lolzz…. my words exactly!!!Recommend

  • Nandita.

    Hellooo !! I was going to eat a Gulab Jamun but stopped after reading your blog. I will not forgive you for this Miss Author. :( :PRecommend

  • Ali

    Fit is the word ! Not skinny not healthy ! One needs to be “Fit” ! And your friend will regret eating that “Kit-Kat” !Recommend

  • Usman


  • Hala

    i think you have it backwards, a lot of women do what you say. but only because society tells them they have toRecommend

  • a

    @I am a Khan:
    its not the same at all
    please do not make false equivalancies
    you and your friend were rejected for marriage by horrible people you did not know
    but you still think you are ok looking
    and you think your friend is a great guy
    you don’t have annorexia, you are not trying to kill yourself, your own parents arent constantly worried about your looks.
    the difference is that you think it is stupid to judge people by their looks, because you are judged by other things also
    most women do not have that luxury. they believe what they are told. they judge themselves by their looks because they are told they have no other value.
    yes because of media, men are expected to look a little better than they used to be
    but women are punished for not looking a certain way
    i don’t mean to minimise your proplems, i’m sure you have plenty
    but you minimised the issues mentioned in this article saying that no this is not a women centric problem when clearly it is.Recommend

  • a

    eating 1 kit kat will make you unfit?Recommend

  • Ali

    hahaha ! Not really; but what I meant was that its the attitude. As in women and men both need to be careful with their diets. Why should one not take care of themselves?!?!
    And its dumb to say dont care and do what your heart tells you to do. A rich man can be a spend thrift but it would be really dumb for a poor person to do that, like wise if your fat you better be miserly on the carbs and calories.

    And honestly Pakistani women are very pretty but they do have issues maintaining themselves; make up is not the solution to everything you need to take care of your diet as well. And this should not just be limited till marriage even after marriage people should take care of themselves.Recommend

  • http://NewYork Jibran

    Of course skinny is better for both guys and girls. If you wear shalwar qameez, you may get away with a pot belly. But with pants and shirt, you look like a gorilla. Recommend

  • Usman

    What happend to the kit kat? EAT EAT EAT EAT EAT EAT EAT EAT EAT EAT EAT EAT EAT EAT EAT and women love eatingRecommend

  • ALI

    And the same women run after men who should be rich handsome young and all that. Men have right to choose at their whim, as women are also doing the same. Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Sarah: we, the females, are not taught how to accept ourselves and how to accept the compliments and praise. we blush or deny that what is being said is right and that it is our positive point…….Problem is low self esteem……low confidence which depends on what kind of environment kids grow up in.Recommend

  • Shahla

    It wasn’t meant to be a story of me and my friend only. I tried to use our context to give my opinion about this situation but I understand where it might have seemed otherwise. @Rakshinda: Recommend

  • The Only Normal Person Here.

    FINALLY, somebody spoke in favor of Skinnies.Recommend

  • Lisa

    You need to reconsider the vocab you use when you talk about women. What is chubby? What is healthy? Also, a little grammar goes a long way. Recommend

  • Parvez

    After reading such a lot of doom-and-gloom and India-Pakistan nonsense, this came as breath of fresh air……………and the first thing that popped into my head was Sonakshi Sinah….wow !

  • http://yahoo [email protected]

    I think that in Pakistan mostly girls are fatty eat eat …..too muchRecommend

  • http://yahoo ania

    Fashion of fatty girls:)Recommend

  • http://yahoo ania

    men’s eat tooo muchRecommend

  • Waqar

    So true…Recommend

  • Nobody

    Dear women are only punished if they allow themselves to be. I NEVER cared about other people’s critique of my appearance because I’m so comfortable with myself and you know what, people don’t criticize me. At least not to me face and if they do it behind my back, I couldn’t care less either way. Make your own opinion of yourself, be confident whether slim or healthy and you’ll stop caring. Some women judge themselves a certain way (and men now too) and that makes society do it even more. Stop caring and set your own standards. Don’t give others the liberty to bug you about yourself if you’re comfortable. Cheers! Recommend

  • Pakistani Says

    But you seriously written this whole chapter on your own vision without any public words, you just posted the whole thing on your conversation with your friend who is cursing herself due to her personal issues, and you also started cursing yourself. –

    Girl, believe me! There are more than 90% of men who don’t like sticks around them, who don’t like the skinny girls around them. If you found out yourself in such trouble, then once ask yourself who asked your boyfriend to comment on yourself, or your husband.

    You ask them to comment on yourself, let them comment by their own. You will definitely get 100% shocking answers. Recommend

  • Ahmad

    Dont bring it upon yourself. You can either be a woman of substance or a woman of just looks.

    However, it is that you want to be perceived is how you will act, dress, talk and live.

    Let real men be attracted to you since they go for substance. Or you can chose a shallow choice and try looking good for men who dont care about anything but looks.

    Looks will wear out but intelligence, knowledge and integrity will always remain. So at the end of the day its your choice.

    E.g. men dont wear sleeveless shalwar kameez and you dont need to either. Just an example.

    Educate yourselves and be confident. Take care girls. Recommend

  • Mozart

    This is coming from a person who is using “vocab”? :)Recommend

  • Skeptical

    Its a pity when I see thin girls flaunting about that they eat everything and dont get fat….well….I just wanna tell them that its natural that their body is like that….God gifted is the word!!
    And to those who say Pakistani guys like thin girls…..Please!! Pakistan guys nowadays like thin skinny girls over healthy and chubby girls….because according to them such girls look younger and can easily wear any kind of outfit without looking absurd…..They are more photogenic and even after having kids they look younger and hot since they dont put on weight!!Recommend

  • Baba Ji

    flock of sheep ???? Noooo … Pakistani women are a herd of cattle !!!! Honestly no pun intended … fact remains a fact … just look around today when you drive to work … Recommend

  • Omer

    Men and women need to have a healthy living, the result will show to indicate that one will move towards the naturally desired equilibrium of neither weak nor fat. Actually, one observation is that indiscipline and trying to find a short-cut to being smart in the shape of dieting has led to unhealthy outlook. What is needed is balanced diet and exercise, and to take proper sleep at proper times (aligned with the internal biological clock of early to sleep and early to rise). I think in all these respects the generations gone by were more intelligent and modern. On another note, life with a purpose keeps one focused and content, which brings health. Recommend

  • Namra Wajid

    Women were supposed to be curvy btw! :)Recommend

  • Syed Masood

    LOL @ women, are a bunch of sheep being picked for Bakra Eid.
    Well you heard it alot, couples are formed at the sky. so be relaxed & let it go.Recommend

  • Sarah Ansari

    Although I agree with most of the things you have said, I would still encourage people to be conscious about their weight. I am a foodie and it shows, and it would not have mattered if my food diet consisted of healthy items along with a splurging weekend, but it does not. Being fat is very uncomfortable and unless and until you are bound by a medical reason, you should not console yourself about it being all right. I am all up for individuality and embracing ones curves, but once they start looking like tires, it is not cool.

    On a different note, women should stop criticizing themselves on their size and go to unrealistic measures to resolve this issue. I know men set our standards in this society, but it is very ironical when an educated (elite) woman looks down upon a sub-standard housewife as she takes measures or worries about controlling her weight. You are doing the same when you shop for clothes stitched with less material to stay on top of the society in the morning and your husband at night.

    Every class has a different way of dealing with it, and they have fair enough reasons.

    Lower/middle class women rely highly on their husbands, they don’t work nor bring food to the table. Lower/middle class men don’t really have easy jobs or respected environments to return home from, so if they ‘demand’ a clean house and a properly dressed wife, I don’t think it is a lot to ask for. No matter how submissive you are as a woman, you would not want to go in the arms of a sweaty man with unmatched clothes, maybe he does not want to either?

    Higher/upper class women have other women on their minds, not other households. Their race is ‘tougher’. They have a husband to keep on a leash and they have a society to burn. Sorry, too much pessimism there, but just sing along for the sake of this argument, I have a point. It is not their fault that they are running mad behind their weight, it’s just their designers have set really high expectations.

    In a way, I like the fact that they are driven by unhealthy motivation to be in shape, because if being slim/fit was not addictive, they would not go through all this trouble to be that way. That money can easily go on something else.

    We all have the tendency to turn something negative into something positive, and if you feel the need to burn this fat is negative, do it for yourself. I would give up anything to be able to wear whatever I liked and not worry about where the pleats go or get upset over a wrong cut on my shirt.

    Life is good without fat, and yeah, sort of faster too. Recommend

  • HiraZ

    Story of my life!Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Sarah Ansari:
    You are what you eat. What is keeping you from loosing it?Recommend

  • WellDone

    eat dark chocolate. its yummy but not fatteningRecommend