Turns out even Richa Chadha, an actress known for her confident screen presence and fierce performances, has had to face her own share of body shaming and being judged by people in and outside the industry.
In a recent TedX talk at Delhi Technical University, she come out in the open about an issue like Bulimia that does not only affects people in the film industry, but also many young people around the world—what she revealed was stuff worth knowing.
Years ago, a male colleague of Richa's mentioned to the film director that she was too skinny and he had to "pad her up a bit". When she found out, Richa was understandably hurt, even though she had always believed she was perfect in college. So she began over exercising to put on weight and once she did, she engaged in a million more squats to lose the excess kilos.
"There is a lot of pressure because everyone is judging you on the basis of how you look. On screen, your face is magnified so people are pointing to your nose, eyes, jawline, smile and even your eyelashes," she told the audience.
The actress tried her best to balance between two diametrically opposite roles that of a tough Punjabi lady in Sarbjit and a dancer in Cabaret, which left her susceptible to an eating disorder.
It was not a typical case of bulimia since she never gave into binge-eating. But she did indulge in long hours of fasting, feasting on protein bars and cans of red bull, which left her feeling guilty. She felt worse when she saw Asif Kapadia's Oscar winning documentary, Amy, on singer Amy Winehouse when en-route to the Marrakech Film Festival last December.
"It was a nine-hour flight. I saw the film in the first two hours and spent the remainder of the flight weeping, landing with red, swollen eyes. But being away from people helped and I decided to take control of my life and body," said Richa, recounting her experience.
Richa changed her life around when she got in touch with naturopaths, and nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar who made her start eating everything from rajma-chawal to dosas, parathas and salads, and avoiding bad fats, carbs and proteins that almost damaged her body.
"The reason I am talking about it is because I know not just actors but housewives and teenagers who're struggling with this poor little rich girl problem. At a time when the West is celebrating curves, we are ordering fat melting medicines and living on supplements which can mess up a woman's hormones and childbearing ability and lead to sperm and hair loss in men," she reasons.
Richa also went to talk about body-shaming in the industry, "I saw how viciously Aishwarya (Rai Bachchan) was attacked after she had her baby by jobless people. All I can say is that my grandmother who is 87 still has a small but healthy dinner every day of rice, chapati, sabzi, and never misses her dessert. She laughs when I run away from ice cream and she's as slim and beautiful as she was when she was young. I'd like to tell people to love themselves the way they are without bothering about popular perception."