My body, my rules: This Kerala actor is spreading a message about body positivity with a swimsuit photoshoot
Fara Shibla cannot remember a time when she was not shamed for her body.
But with her recent strong statement on body positivity with a swimsuit photoshoot, the Kerala actor wants to spread a strong message: be comfortable in your own skin.
The photos posted on Instagram quote author Sophie Lewis, “My body is not yours to critique and discuss. My body is not yours for consumption. My body is my vessel, an archive of experiences. A weapon that has fought battles only I understand. A library of love, pain, struggle, victory and mystery. Your eyes can’t define all it has endured. Do not place value upon my body. Place it upon my being.”
She rounds it off by telling people, “Loving yourself is the greatest revolution. Your body and your health are your choices!”
Shot by photographer Sarin Ramdas, the photoshoot features Fara in a bright, yellow swimsuit.
“The idea came after a discussion with my stylist Asaniya Nazrin, as I had always wanted to wear a swimsuit but thought I was “too fat” to be photographed in it. My photographer told me that this was not something that would be sensual or sexual… all I had to do is laugh throughout the shoot,” Fara tells HerStory.
Smiling in her own skin
The “smiling” and “laughing” suggestions did help, and Fara says she had a blast doing the shoot. She “smiled out really loud” and the aesthetic results are there for everyone to see.
It’s been just a few days since she posted the pictures on Instagram and the reactions have been varied.
“Instagram threw up some really positive comments, including some from people in the industry. I got congratulatory DMs from many people. But there were a lot of cheap comments on Facebook, like, ‘she’s a Muslim, why is she doing this’, ‘she looks like an elephant in a swimsuit’,” she says.
Fara believes that when does something out of the ordinary, harsh comments are inevitable. But she is happy that media recognition has brought body positivity into the spotlight.
She should know why this is important. “Since I was a child, I was curvy and did not fit into society’s mould of how women should be. People would tell me on my face that I should lose weight and stop eating. That I was a good student did not matter at all,” she recalls.
Fara says she cried herself to sleep every day and one day decided to go on a crash diet to lose weight. While that worked temporarily, she decided she would work hard to lose weight. It was at a time when she was anchoring a number of shows for TV channels and trying desperately to conform to a “particular weight” expected of her.
However, fate had other plans. When her son was one-and-a-half years old, she received a casting call for a role that required the actor to be on the heavier side.
And just like that, Fara gained 20 kg for her memorable role in Kakshi: Amminipilla. However, she lost the weight gained by the time the movie released. She started frequenting the gym and following a healthy diet. Again, the comments were varied – some liked her as Kanthi in the film, and others commended her for losing weight.
“There is always someone who is going to comment on your body. So it was time to accept myself as a ‘medium-framed’ or curvy woman without caring for what people thought,” Fara says.
It’s okay to be curvy
Fara believes it’s important to educate young girls that it’s okay to be curvy.
“When you are stressed about your body, you are not going to be healthy or happy. Being heathy is important – so follow a healthy diet and follow an exercise routine. But be unique in what God has given you,” she adds.
The actor vocalises most other women’s thoughts when she says, “Whether you are too thin, or too fat, there will always be someone to point that out. Be bold and confident in your skin and also to respond to adverse comments and take these double standards head on.”
She is happy for the support of her family, especially her husband, and says she cares two hoots about the “whispering aunties” around her. She is also happy about the support of the Malayalam film industry, with actors like Nimisha Sajayan and others being comfortable about how they look and flaunting it too.
“I think young girls today are more confident with their bodies, but need the support of the society. There should come a day when showing cleavage is normalised; otherwise, every part of the body a woman shows is going to be sexual.”
Fara is at present working on Khalid Rahman's Tandamala, and will follow that up with Uthamamaninde Vithu.
“I get messages from very normal people that they have been inspired by this photoshoot. And that's what I wanted and feel very good about.”
Edited by Teja Lele Desai