Pakistan’s showbiz industry is struggling not only with the production of quality content for digital entertainment industry but also accepting all kinds of body types in the industry. It has quite a whack history when it comes to actors especially female actors, directly and indirectly attacking each other for their appearances.
It’s a taboo; an act of making negative and improper comments about someone’s appearance. Body shaming has become almost casual in our conversations. So how can the showbiz industry stay immune to this epidemic?
Whether someone has gone through excessive weight gain or an extreme fat-loss, people specifically women in our society have to go through a lot of comments. Constant criticism is faced by women and it has become a grave fact of our society. The worst part of it is that women have to face body-shaming at a far larger scale than their male counterparts. Even worse is that body-shaming comes mostly from females to females rather than from the opposite genders. Instead of supporting each other, women point fingers at their colleagues for gaining or losing some chunk of fat from their bodies.
The most recent example of this body-shaming is an old clip from the show of Hassan Shehryar Yaseen (HSY) two years ago. This clip is addressing the heart of this whole problem. The viral clip is showing two renowned Pakistani models; Amna Ilyas and Sadaf Kanwal. It is the same show in which Sadaf Kanwal’s insensitive comments about the MeToo movement made rounds on social media few months ago. Sadaf Kanwal already has a very bobbled reputation for her contentious statements.
This time, Sadaf Kanwal and Amna Ilyas were seen playing a harmless game of guessing celebrities. Amna Ilyas used a very inconsiderate indicator to refer to the former actress Amna Haq’s weight gain. She made extremely thick-skinned remarks about Amna Haq saying that her weight gain is rather horrifying which even left HSY shook. On top of it all off, both the models high-fived each other after the insensitive jibe made by Amna Ilyas.
The clip started making rounds on social media like a bush fire. Amna Haq took her Instagram handle to directly address the remarks made towards her saying that, “A few of you have tagged me in something a certain model/actor said about me. Truth be told, if body shaming me brought a small shred of joy in her life, then she’s welcome. Unhappy people tend to gravitate towards hate, instead of kindness and compassion.”
After constantly receiving hate on social media for her body-shaming comments, Amna Ilyas also took to her Instagram handle to respond to the matter. She shared a video in which she was holding a paratha and yelled at the paratha for wearing PJs. She asked her fans to not believe what media was telling them. Contrary to what anyone thought she would say, Amna Ilyas made a rather satirical and mocking response to the matter saying that body-shaming isn’t the only thing she is guilty of since she is going to be blamed for her past anyways.
She accepted being involved in various kinds of mockery since her childhood saying that, “We had a cook Noman who couldn’t walk properly because he was differently-able, and I called him ‘Loora Nomi’ I was six. My cousin had a daughter and for two years I didn’t pick her up because I’d say, ‘Haye, kitni pheeni hai ye’ “Oh! How unattractive is he” I was 12? My school teacher had speech impairment, so I’d imitate him and at that time I was 15.”
Describing various anecdotes from her past life, Amna Ilyas described how she had made jokes about people ranging from her family to her friends to her teachers all throughout her childhood. She even said that she would ignore her best friend because he was so tiny that she could not recognize his presence. Further she said that, “I told my neighbor that they should get a hair transplant, told my house maid that she should get dentures and then I also skin-shamed my sister’s friend who was a very dark-complexioned girl.
When addressing the topic of fat-shaming, she said that she had never called anyone fat. She posted a video on Instagram in which she said that the person who called Amna Haq fat was not me. I am a very different person now. Instead of being apologetic she criticized the society as a whole saying that, “No one enters this world knowing all the ethics, so please don’t tell me you all never said these things. But you still wouldn’t give another person a second chance.
Calling out to Amna Haq she said that, “Amna Haq, I cannot change what I did, I cannot undo the pain I might have caused you – but I try to be a better me every day. And for all you guys, for the last time, I am not her.”
Her video ended up without an apology towards body-shaming and that has ignited people on social media. The video was totally irrelevant because instead of being apologetic for her messed up comments, she schooled people for not judging someone on their past. Several people have commented under her Instagram post calling her arrogant and demanding an apology for being so insensitive.
It is kind of ironic that such sardonic remarks about someone’s appearance have come from Amna Ilyas. The same Amna Ilyas who has faced years of racism because of her dark skin and not-so-fair complexion. We are living in 2020 and the world where people are still murdered for being dark-skinned and then the people with the same dark skin come out and shame other people for their appearances.
It is extremely eccentric that people with such influence continue to be ignorant towards all types of appearances. It is high time that especially Pakistan’s showbiz stars stop promoting high and quintessential standards of beauty and start accepting every body type and skin color as aesthetic to the world.
Author is doing BS in International Relation from Lahore College for Women University. She is a freelance writer. Previously worked with The Frontier Post, Dawn and Express Tribune.