Women of Substance

Written By

Chitra Doraiswami

Women of Substance Loading

I bemoan the loss of women of substance. Rather, I mean, substantial women. In other words, large ladies. Now, why in Heaven would I like big ladies? Simple. I am one myself…well, not too large but not too small either.

The thing is, larger ladies were popular in earlier eras. Seen Renaissance paintings? Your Titian, Rubens, Botticelli, etc. See their nudes. What beautiful clothes they painted…yes, yes, not on the gal. I did say ‘nude’, didn’t I? See her skin tone. Her skin is peachier than any peach I have ever met in any market. I remember this nude, lolling on a couch, covering her, ahem…you know, with a large apple. I think the artist intended to show Eve, modern day (as modern as it got in the 1600s).

The model has a round face, round arms, chubby legs and … Heavens, a paunch. No, I’m not mistaken. She looks as if she has done herself well on pasta, cream and the cheese. Now, she has picked up the apple in passing (in case hunger pangs should strike during the sitting) but even Miss Jaws can’t eat another morsel. So, the artist (possibly a starving one) found a good use for the apple.

Take our movies. Of not so long ago. Our Meena Kumaris, Madhubalas, Vyjayanthimalas, etc. were never diddled out of their rotis or dosas. Even in their tragic roles, they may have died saving the hero from a bullet, but only after tea, thank you.  They never died of starvation. Even on screen. How would you show that when their blouses were stretched at the seams?

Our Southern belles were plumper. They could have easily given Asha Parekh (of the wall-to-wall butt fame) a run for her money. I never saw Savitri and Shivaji Ganesan in one frame. Possibly, the camera didn’t have such large apertures to get them both in one go.

 Not that they weren’t pretty. They were. They invariably had beautiful large and expressive eyes, lovely smiles, excellent acting skills, dancing ability and if it came with an extra addition of a chin or two, so what? Nobody minded that.

My cousin from Chennai shared this ‘gyan’ with me: poorer people like such voluptuous women because they are half-starved. How it helped the local Shaktivel if Saroja Devi had an extra idli for breakfast, I can’t say.

It’s all Jane Fonda’s fault. She brought this abs and sleek and slim craze to the world. Words like Bulimia and Anorexia weren’t even invented before her. Gyms were English translation for Akhadas where oily, muscular men trained for Mr. India, wrestling matches, etc.

Down with skinny, up with chubby, I say! (Don’t complain. I know it is easier to lift up skinny.)




Chitra Doraiswami, 69, is from Bangalore. She has written for many publications such as the Deccan Herald, The Times, Femina, Eve’s Weekly, etc. Chitra has many an interesting tale to tell including the one about finishing her Masters along with her son; sadly “only” getting a First Class, where her son got a rank. She joined CMR, NPS as Headmistress two decades ago and is now known as the Associate Principal of the institution. She also has a sixteen year old grandson. Chitra is an avid dancer, reader and drama-enthusiast. She's traveled extensively with her husband who was in the IAF. She taught wherever they were posted. Chitra enjoys teaching people innovative ways of helping children learn, but she is definitely not the prototypical fluffy grandma!

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