Mindy Kaling looks absolutely fantastic in the April issue of Vogue, and continues her tour of becoming the best friend of your dreams with a charming interview full of admirable and refreshing honesty. While Vogue seemed to trip over themselves to point out that Kaling isn’t your average star based on size–calling her “curvaceous” and asking questions relating to her size–she is so likable and relatable that it almost makes you forget Vogue’s ham-fisted approach.
I’m a big fan of Kaling’s brand of body positivity:
“There’s a whole list of things I would probably change about myself. For example, I’m always trying to lose fifteen pounds. But I never need to be skinny. I don’t want to be skinny. I’m constantly in a state of self-improvement but I don’t beat myself up over it.”
Body positivity on the whole tends to ignore the idea that some people can like their bodies but still want to see change, and the pressure to love yourself but also render yourself unchangeable can crushing. I like that Kaling can be proud of her body and loves it even if she’s trying to lose weight. If a person wants to lose weight, that should be their choice, and not some condemnation of their self image. Losing a few pounds doesn’t mean you hate yourself. We have to remember that it’s okay to love your body and to want to change it.
While I think Mindy comes off sounding remarkably balanced and honest, the attention to her body (it got equal inches to her career) seems slightly disappointing. For instance, is this qualifier necessary?
Petite and a fluctuating size 10, Kaling spins a lot of her own body-image issues into The Mindy Project, and much of the humor on the show stems from her awareness that she isn’t a size 2 blonde.
Sure, Kaling puts body image on the table–it’s a huge theme in her show, book, and her public persona. But where Kaling is relaxed about her body and genuinely seems happy with herself, she frequently gets packaged as loving her body in spite of it (and constantly asked how she dresses her body, as if it’s too cumbersome to bear). She did provide a spot on, honest answer that will be relatable to anyone whose weight fluctuates:
“When I’m at my thinnest, I tend to wear things that don’t show off my body. But when I’m bigger, I’ll go body-con, which comes from a place of ‘This is my perimeter, in case you were wondering if I was actually much bigger.’”
Her answer is great, but I do wonder why they asked. It’s a disservice to how awesome, beautiful, and talented she really is.
It’s as if Vogue couldn’t resist packaging her as the girl who likes herself in spite of her body, and we should be applauding her bravery. Mindy Kaling is super hot and also likes herself, and also wants to see some change in her body. None of that is mutually exclusive. And it’s worth noting that Kaling appears in the “Shape” issue–she’s there because of her body. What’s disappointing is that Kaling is wildly successful and has amazing style, and shouldn’t require any type of body-based qualifier to be Vogue-worthy. She doesn’t need to be anyone’s token diverse body.