Singapore: Curvy actresses take to the stage to denounce the dictates that are rampant in Asia

“Look How I Undress”sings Ross Nasir, actress of a musical about a chubby woman in Singapore, where, as in many Asian countries, overweight people have long been stigmatized.

Her show ‘Big Brown Girl’ exposes the prejudices curvy women face when seeking mates in the Southeast Asian city-state. “In Asia, it took a little longer for fat people to be accepted, but it’s progressing”explains the 35-year-old actress. “We are now better represented.”

But at a time when Western countries are giving more advertising space to models of different builds, and when certain ‘plus size’ models such as Ashley Graham and Paloma Elsesser are succeeding, Asia is still lagging behind.

In the 1990s and up to 2007, Singapore imposed weight control for children and mandatory fitness programs for overweight people. Some believe that this program, which has now been discontinued, has helped to reinforce prejudice.

To Aarti Olivia Dubey, blogger fighting the dictation of thinness with 30,000 followers on her Instagram account “curvesbecomeher”: “There’s still a real problem because of the weight stigma and unconscious bias.”

The activist is part of a new generation of influencers reaching a global audience on TikTok and Instagram with a message of self-acceptance and acceptance of all body types. Shows like “Big Brown Girl” also show attitudes are changing, she notes.

” More difficult “ find love

The musical, in which viewers can choose between 10 possible dates for the character and as many scenarios, is inspired by the experiences of the actress and her co-writer and director Melissa Sim. “When we think about dates, about love stories, we don’t necessarily imagine them from the point of view of a strong person”explains Ross Nasir.

“You might think these things don’t apply to those that are similar to ours in size, build, or color, but in fact they are.”

The musical also addresses the racial issue, as the actress is part of the Malaysian minority, in the city-state where the majority of the population is of Chinese descent. have brown skin “also means a difficulty”† And maybe find love “a little harder for someone a little bigger, or part of a minority”.

Last year, “The Other F Word,” an autobiographical one-woman show starring actress Miriam Cheong, also addressed these questions. The author, a 27-year-old woman, grew up during a time when Singapore forced overweight children to take sports classes. “I thought it was a bit deserved because I was fat and not athletic”she says, but afterwards she feels humiliated because of her size.

Attacked on his physique

In Asia, women who do not fit in with traditional beauty standards continue to face problems. Four in 10 Singaporeans said they wouldn’t consider dating an overweight person, according to a 2019 YouGov survey.

In Japan, the curvy actress Naomi Watanabe appears in many advertising campaigns, but still suffers from attacks on her physique. The artistic director of the Tokyo Olympics ceremony was forced to resign after comparing the eccentric 34-year-old muse to ‘a pig’.

In South Korea, plus-size model Vivian Geeyang Kim is campaigning to convince curvy women that they have nothing to be ashamed of. She markets a clothing line and publishes a curvy fashion magazine, a first in a country where the ideal of beauty is dictated by ultra-thin K-pop stars and television actresses who are put on diets by their producers.

For Aarti Olivia Dubey, the growing number of discussions and shows around the body and its image is progress. But there’s still so much to do “Weight-related humiliation is still one of the most acceptable forms of discrimination”she notes.


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