Life Above the Curves: Bollywood Meets Hollywood


By Shamime Shaw

“If you just stick to going to the gym, playing golf or whatever it is you do, you will be perfect one day.” The words of a man I once dated.

I sat there and looked at him. I had seen his past girlfriends and knew I was the smallest in height and clocking in at 120 lbs., the lowest weight he had ever dated.

He said, “I know...I blame Hollywood for my unrealistic expectations on how women should look and perform.” 


During college I started looking at more Bollywood films. I was tired of looking at Western Hollywood films and seeing super skinny, zero body hair, barely dressed women being the object of desire. I turned to Bollywood to see women with olive skin, curves, full eyebrows and thick, long hair. They were more tanned than the occasional Hollywood “It Girl.” I could identify with the women of Bollywood. 

I’ve heard opinions on body image from men and women of all races.

I have been on both sides of the self-esteem spectrum: 

The chubby chick that got bailed on for homecoming. 

The college girl who got blown off for dinner with that cute guy. 

The friend who was told by her African American friend prom date, “You know I only like white women.” 

The girl who hears her white male friend say they only date East Asians, while others say they only prefer Latinas. 

The above gave me much insight on men and image/American beauty standards.

America is one of the toughest countries to grow up in for a woman...If you desire to develop a confidence that is something other than having a drink in hand and going to bed with him after one week.

Body image issues do not result from “low self-esteem.” Body image issues stem from the type of environment in which a woman compares herself to others...all thanks to Hollywood.

She said:

I need to go on a diet and lose 10 lbs.

Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.

I’m too short.

I’m too tall.

I’m not tanned.

I’m too dark.

My hair is too curly.

I’m prettier than her. 

She’s prettier than me.

She’s smarter than me.

She gets all the men! Why?

She has a unibrow.

He said:

She’s not tall enough.

She burped.

She’s hairy.

She passed gas.

She wants children after two months of holding hands.

I like large breasts.

I don’t like large bottoms.

She’s too dark.

I don’t like black girls.

I prefer Latina girls. 

I prefer white girls. 

I like East Asian girls.

So, which would you prefer? 

Walking down the street feeling too dark skinned in Bollywood or feeling too everything else listed above in Hollywood? How can we bridge the beauty of both influences yet overcome the shortcomings?

Let’s take a long look in the mirror, face our fears and embrace our assumed flaws.

About the author:

Shamime Shaw is a graduate of UCLA with a degree in Culture. Her passions include writing, photography, journalism, critical race theory, yoga and golf (to name a few).  Shamime’s ethnicity is Indian American and African American. Her ethnic makeup gives her a unique perspective on Desi Indian culture, religion(s) and practices. 

Why Do I Blog?


Why do we breathe?  Because expression is a necessity. I write because I know someone else in the world will find solace and answers in my words. Read more from Shamime at

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