Fit Indian Women: Discrimination, Harassment and #Metoo

If you encounter any such incident, stand up and speak up on the spot. If you are good at what you do and add value to your job profile, there will never be a shortage of opportunities, so you don’t have to tolerate any crap! – Has #Metoo affected Indian fitness industry? Find out in this article.

Living in 21st century, India has changed a lot indeed in terms of technology, infrastructure, living standards and educational avenues. The dreamy big metros and the intellectual young brigade, things are changing for good. But one thing which has moved at snail speed in a typical Indian society is how an independent and strong woman is viewed, the perspective judgment always stalks them somewhere or other. If we talk about Indian fitness industry, the industry respects women indeed and wishes them to excel. Instead, it is the reaction of the masses that matters the most because any sport which is played in a stadium or on a stage is meant to be for audience and audience represent the masses. This audience can be on media and social media as well.

If we are not wrong many women might have deleted and even tackled a certain kind of pervert from their inboxes or comments sections. Speciallythose who have just started but haven’t yet climbed the ladder of popularity. Even the popular athletes, coaches or fitness icons get those crawlers in their comment sections but they hardly have time to go through hundreds of comments and if they do, they either take it in their stride and ignore or give them tight verbal or textual slap on their face.

The question is not what you do or do not, question is the mindset and reaction of people towards women taking up athletic sports like bodybuilding where body is what they are working on and what you put on showcase as the mark of your extreme hardwork and dedication. Because of the nature of this sport, it stands out and is very different from other sports. Talking of other sports, folks haven’t yet forgotten how Indian Tennis icon SaniaMirza was condemned by certain community orthodox over her short skirt! And it is ridiculous to know who is shameless when the people who are watching the game are not concerned about how brilliantly she played and brought accolades to the country but they were busy watching her short skirt. Is it not a kind of harassment? Of course, it is.

Here are a few snapshots from the comment sections of some of the known bodybuilding athletes and fitness icons. This is when lighter tones of comments are selected here for inclusion in this article. Our team of journalists while investigating the profiles of these strong willed women was shocked to discover the types and levels of textual harassment they face time and again.

These women who wear the armor of confidence need to be respected and acknowledged for their immense hard work because they put in double the efforts given the fact that they are looking after their families, have gone through menstrual pain and pregnancy set backs on their bodies, apart from other health problems in their journey. In terms of endurance no one can beat the inspiration they are.

Women in fitness industry are excelling and are winning on national and international platforms. They have given a positive picture of the Indian fitness industry on global platforms. Many of them have taken up this sport against the wishes of their families and many of them didn’t care about the social pressures, they just moved ahead and proved their mettle. Apart from their grilling training schedule, the challenge has always been the circumstances they have encountered and came over them.

 

India’s first IFBB Pro Deepika Chowdhury has shared a positive feedback of the industry in the times when #metoo campaign is plaguing the social networks and more and more women are coming out with their cringing accounts of facing sexual harassment. Deepika said, “I have been lucky enough and haven’t faced any discrimination or harassment in this industry. People have been respectful and cordial with me even on social media. Fellow industry people have always been nice to me. I had a very rewarding and fulfilling journey so far here with them. The social media comments sometimes were weird but not harassing. Weird in the sense that they would exclaim at me for appearing manly with muscles! But I guess they are just expressing their perception of me.” Well, we agree with you Deepika because that ‘perception’ is more stupid than being harassing.

While shooting with Television and Fitness icon Bani J, we had a hint of her mind when she said that why we only say Mr. India, Mr. World in general while referring to some of the fitness industry achievers, it can equally be Ms. India and Ms. World. We think she is right and ‘equal’ is the word we have to pay attention to because a career which sets benchmarks for strength can’t be without women representation of it, even in symbolic one. And of course, we were inspired enough to capiton her coverage: Strong Like A Woman!

Master Reebok Trainer and Rehab Trainer Vinata Shetty has also said that Indian Fitness Industry has no or perhaps rare cases of harassment against women. She found that there is a demand of female trainers here and there is absolutely no discrimination. She said that discrimination of harassment cases may be coming from the people outside this industry though. She has advised, “If you encounter any such incident, stand up and speak up on the spot. If you are good at what you do and add value to your job description there will never be a shortage of opportunities, so you don’t have to tolerate any crap, especially, when it’s against your wishes and belief system.”

We spoke to other people from the industry and a common observation which came out was that Indian Fitness Industry can have rude or arrogant or self-obsessed people but not the one who harass women or approach them without their wish or make use of their career related vulnerability. Families and society who thinks that bodybuilding and fitness industry is not the right one for the women in their family to make a career in, must now think about it seriously and let their daughters pursue their passion for fitness and if they wish to make a career in it, it is actually the right place as far as their safety is concerned.

Moreover, do you think wrongly approaching a physically and mentally strong woman will anyway do the offenders any good? All other industries have come up with gross cases of sexual harassment but Indian Fitness Industry cuts clear of it. There might be pressures in front of our fit girls from society, family, social media hogs or other industries but not inside the fitness industry. The better trained your daughters are, the better they can tackle such pressures, breaking notions, and barriers of discriminations or body shaming.

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The team is based out of Delhi and is connected to all the leading athletes, trainers and nutritionists. The purpose is to bridge the gap between common people and all fitness e.... Read More..

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