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How Richa Chadha struggled to look perfect and her message for others

Think Change India
29th May 2016
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Actor Richa Chadha, who recently appeared in Sarbjit and will soon be seen in Cabaret, has opened up about her struggles with eating right and body image issues, says The Huffington Post. This is what Richa said in an interview with Mumbai Mirror– “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.”

Image: Zee News
Image: Zee News

Last year, Richa was juggling between two drastically different films and characters, the Sarabjit biopic in which she played a hardy Punjabi woman and the musical, Cabaret. The constant shifting between body image left Richa nervous, vulnerable and struggling with an eating disorder.

It wasn’t a classic case of bulimia because Richa wasn’t given to binge-eating. Rather she was going through long hours of fasting, munching on protein bars and Red Bulls, and feeling guilty every time she felt hungry. Then, last December, en route to the Marrakech Film Festival as a jury member, she happened to see Asif Kapadia’s Oscar winning documentary, Amy, on singer Amy Winehouse who along with drugs, alcohol addiction and relationship problems was also fighting bulimia which eventually led to self-destruction.

“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,” recalled Richa.

It took two months and several conversations with her parents who were flabbergasted that a Punjabi girl was off food and two close friends before she got in touch with a naturopath, Dr Chintu, and nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar. For the first two weeks Rujuta encouraged her to eat all the food she had grown up with which she had been denying herself, from rajma-chawal to dosas, parathas and salads, healthy food every two hours without a thought for bad fats, carbs and proteins which had been demonising her and draining her body of essential nutrients, followed by regular workouts. Soon her skin was glowing and today, she can confidently say that in the next month she will be in her best shape ever.

“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. Body-shaming, she says, is a new phenomenon and we don’t need it. “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 everyday 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,” said Richa.

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