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Lingerie and liberation: Tales of empowerment from a recent plus size lingerie fashion show

Nichola Pais | Updated on: Wednesday, May 29, 2019, 01:42 AM IST

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In times when skinny teenaged girls drive themselves into a frenzy of agitation over imaginary weight gain, it was nothing short of an epiphany to see a slew of plus sized women confidently traipsing down the fashion ramp. Their generous bodies weren’t cloaked in concealing kaftans—no, all those dangerous curves were bravely on display in a range of pretty lingerie, at the recent plus size fashion show in association with India Intimate Fashion Week, which saw global size-inclusive lingerie brand, Parfait debuting in India.

The show was headlined by Bollywood hottie Zareen Khan, who pertinently pointed out that “lingerie is not one-size-fits-all, and neither are the women who wear it both on and off the runway.” That was there to see, as models from different age groups including a 50-year-old woman exhibited select pieces from the new spring collection, and exuded refreshing body positivity. Akhil Srivastava, Managing Director, Parfait, confirms that the Indian lingerie industry is seeing a growth that is unparalleled. “It is growing at a high rate of 16% and is sized at $3Bn.”

Zareen Khan
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More hearteningly, as Founder and Managing Director, India Intimate Fashion Week (IIFW), Niraj Jawanjal shares, it’s all about busting taboos, creating awareness about right cup size and personal hygiene. Jawanjal  adds, “We were amazed to see the participation of Indian women when we announced the auditions for the Parfait show; it was overwhelming! Models were so happy, comfortable and confident during the auditions and grooming sessions…and the final results are in front of you. This is just a beginning; much more to come in this social revolution.”

Yes, it is nothing short of a revolution to see plus size women shed the weight of excess baggage and fly. Points out show in-charge Anjali Kamble, “The experience was so inspiring that their enthusiasm was way more than at regular shows. And we didn’t had to develop confidence among them; rather it was their confidence that drew them to the audition venue. Everyone among them has faced body shaming issues some or the other time but it was a celebration of their body and size at the auditions and the show.”

Alefiya Jane
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Connecting with the models throws up stories of deeper struggle. Shares 32-year-old Alefiya Jane, chef, anchor, plus size model and entrepreneur with three brands, “The peer pressure I feel from society as a plus size woman is huge because every stretch mark on my body screams imperfection, as per society norms of what a perfect body should be. I have been body shamed and fat shamed multiple times. That is what made me conscious about the way I look. Deciding to walk the ramp in my lingerie was the first step towards my liberation as a full-bodied woman.”

And that step did not come easy… Alefiya confesses to being a nervous wreck before she opened the show, “because no matter how confident you seem, you are human at the end of the day and wonder how would your jiggly thighs and tummy make headway or headlines at a fashion event.” All of that changed the moment she stepped onto the ramp alongside her co-models and walked their way up. “The audience erupted in a standing ovation, it took so much of me to fight back tears of joy at the liberation I felt at that point in time, Just standing there proud with my girls and living the affirmation that ‘We are Beautiful’ no matter the size,” she avers, grateful for the Parfait and IIFW initiative to give plus-size lingerie in India the attention it has been denied.

Beenna Malje, a 50-year-old actor by profession, shares that she was not nervous at all despite it being her first time on the ramp. “That’s because I feel I am beautiful, I am confident and comfortable with in skin. I love myself the way I am. I know I’m not less beautiful than any other woman. That feeling builds up my confidence.” Her advice to other plus-sized women? “Look at yourself in the mirror with admiration. Love your body. You are no less than any other women out there. What you have, they do not have. Appreciate yourself and others will automatically appreciate and admire you.”

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Nisha Naveenchand, 35-year-old HR professional who also walked the ramp, shares that for her choosing the right inner wear is crucial as when she is comfortable in what she is wearing on the inside, her confidence soars. “This confidence directly impacts how the world outside experiences me and thus choosing the right inner wear is really important for any plus size woman,” she points out.

Alefiya sums up the sentiment as she concludes, “Society is plagued with a mindset to measure a woman’s self-worth by the way she looks, nevertheless we need to understand that not every slim person is healthy and not every plus size person is unhealthy.” And the one line mantra from her dear friend Barry which banished all her pre-show jitters? “Stay large and in charge!”

Can’t debate that!

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Published on: Sunday, March 03, 2019, 05:01 AM IST