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Aishwarya Rai called fat: Are the West’s body image ideals spreading?

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Eric Gaillard/Reuters

(Read caption) Aishwarya Rai, a Bollywood superstar and new mother, has sparked an international discussion of body image. In this file photo, jury members Indian actress and former Miss World Aishwarya Rai and director Steven Soderbergh stand together at the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes in 2003.

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A national treasure in her homeland of India, and a former Miss World, Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai has been receiving far less flattering attention of late, sparking an international debate over weight and body image, perhaps a reflection of a growing Westernization of body ideals in India that emphasizes maintaining a skinny physique at all times.

The 38-year-old actress often referred to as the “most beautiful woman in the world” gave birth to a daughter, Aradhya, last November with her husband, another famous actor, Amitabh Bachchan. But unlike global celebrities such as Angelina Jolie or Victoria Beckham, the new mother has yet to lose all of the weight gained during her pregnancy.

According to Yahoo News, new mothers are supposed to wait three months after giving birth before beginning a vigorous exercise or diet routine. For her critics, however, the six months that have already passed since her baby’s birth are unacceptable.

In fact, the Yahoo News piece cites a study by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology that suggests that sudden and dramatic changes in a mother’s weight can be unhealthy for her and any future pregnancy.

These facts have done little to quiet Rai’s critics, however.

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