Sexy can be any shape: Comedian Vidyu hits back at body shamers
Actor Vidyullekha Raman recently created a flutter when she posted a few photographs on Instagram.
Vidyullekha usually appears in comic roles in Tamil and Telugu films. Much of the comedy refers to her body and involves a good dose of fat shaming. However, in her Instagram post, the actor took ownership of her image and said that contrary to assumptions about female comedians, she was out to prove that they can look “sexy” too.
Dressed in a black dress with minimal jewellery, Vidyullekha also spoke about body image when growing up. She said that if only she could go back in time, she’d tell the “13-year-old Vidyu to love herself more, that she is beautiful in any shape or size.”
The actor entreated her followers to love themselves and to ignore those who called them names.
In Tamil cinema, comedy has revolved around the comedian’s looks for a long time. From ‘Gundu’ Kalyanam to ‘Thavakalai’ Chitti Babu, Kumarimuthu, Senthil, Vadivelu, ‘Mottai’ Rajendran and Yogi Babu, dark skin, weight and certain aspects of their appearance have been the subject of comedy.
This trend has been on the wane, with many mainstream films doing away with a comedy sidetrack and making the comedian play the hero’s friend.
When it comes to women comedians, however, the opposite is true. Actors like Manorama and Kovai Sarala mainly provided the laughs with certain phrases, gestures and expressions. Kalpana has done films where she has been subjected to body shaming (as in Sathi Leelavathi, Chinna Veedu) but these roles went beyond merely poking fun at her weight.
In contemporary Tamil cinema, however, women comedians like Harathi and Vidyullekha have been relegated to roles where their weight is the focus. Most times, the role of the female comedian, if she’s young, involves making overtures to the hero and getting rejected for it. Otherwise, she’s paired with a much older male comedian and the humour comes from the insults he throws at her for her looks.
Body shaming women actors is common across the country – from the National Award winning Vidya Balan to Anushka Shetty, who is among south India’s highest paid women actors, they have been subjected to extreme scrutiny and unkind comments.
In Bollywood, actors like Sonam Kapoor and Sonakshi Sinha have spoken about their struggles with weight and body image but this is a conversation that’s yet to catch steam in the south.
While Vidyullekha’s pictures have attracted the to-be-expected moral policing comments on “culture,” many have also complimented her and thanked her for her body positivity message.