“I started to do so and almost each night, I would puke."
Bollywood actress Vidya Balan has candidly spoken about her battle with weight in an industry where picture-perfect figures are prioritised.
Vidya Balan is known to have a fuller figure compared to other A-listers like Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Katrina Kaif and more.
The actress is credited for playing head-strong characters on-screen. However, off-screen she has struggled with body image.
Being part of an industry which readily provides its opinions is certainly not an easy feat.
According to an interaction with Mid Day, Vidya revealed that she has always been a larger child. She explained:
“For the longest time, I hated my body because I have always been a ‘fat girl.’
“When I was a child, people called me cute and I enjoyed the attention. As I grew older, people started asking me why I wasn’t losing weight when I had a pretty face.”
Vidya Balan also struggled with a string of failed films from 2012 to 2017. She blamed her weight for this saying:
“I felt, if my films weren’t working, it had to do with my body. At one point, it seemed like my body was my life’s biggest problem.”
“I would work out like a beast and deprive myself of the food I loved. I did that for several years and yet, continued to gain weight.
“If and when I did lose weight, I would feel it was alright to be fat. But then, the weight would come back on and it was always a nightmare again.
“When I was 17, somebody told me that if I would drink 10 litres of water a day, I would lose weight.
“I started to do so and almost each night, I would puke. My family worried for me and when I told them what I was doing, they took me to a doctor.
“When I stopped doing that, I gained the weight back. I have a body type that I couldn’t change. My hormonal issues had (escalated) because I was rejected by my body.”
Starring in the 2011 film, The Dirty Picture acted as a catharsis of sorts for Vidya Balan. She began to realise that “even if I was big, I could be sexy.”
However, this was still a little change. It was not until 2019 when Vidya began to work with a healer. She revealed:
“The phase between 2012 and 2019 was very difficult. Before each film, the director would tell me to lose weight.
“I was desperately trying to do so, giving a shot at everything in the [health-care] books — diets, sleeping patterns, everything.”
“Finally, I started telling them that it won’t happen. I began to work with a healer, who made me realise that I was blaming my body for everything.
“We communicate over phone calls. The sessions have made me realise that I can heal myself, and that, in turn, made me realise the power of the self.
“I practice finger-holds, which is a Japanese healing technique. I have realised that my body is the best machine; one that has answers to all my problems.”
The experience had a profound effect on Vidya Balan. She added:
“In 2019, I realised that I was still living the dream of being an actor; nothing else mattered. The body that is keeping me alive is the subject of my conscience.
“I stopped exercising like a beast, and I started eating whatever I wanted to. Guess what, my hormones began to balance.
“I began to eat gajar ka halwa whenever I desired for the first time in a long time, I dropped two kilos.”
This change has allowed Vidya Balan to turn down directors who demand her please the scale for a role. She said:
“If the role requires a different physicality, it requires a different actor”.
Now, the actress feels happier and more confident in her body than ever before.
However, her acceptance of her body should not be mistaken for her disregard to health. She explained:
“I walk for an hour each day. On the days that I don’t feel like walking, I don’t exert myself. This way, I find exercising more enjoyable. I pay heed to my body.”
Vidya has also realised that health-related content does not benefit everyone in the same way. She revealed that her husband, Siddharth Roy Kapoor “would lose weight with the nutritionist’s advice, but I would not.”