The Battle of the Sari Bulge

I’m having a staring contest with a chocolate bar today.  Halloween is coming up in nine days, and I found a buy-one-get-one-free sale on bags of Halloween candy for trick or treating…so I bought four.  I told myself we needed extra candy in case of an unusual onslaught of trick-or-treaters this year.  But a little voice inside has taunted me ever since I emptied a bag of the fun-size chocolate bars into a jack-o-lantern shaped bowl (for the kids, of course).

Just one won’t hurt. 

No one will ever know.

The only problem is, I have to wear a sari in one month for a wedding, and I am on a diet.  No carbs, no artificial sweeteners, no dairy, no fun.  I wake up every morning and plan my tiny meals, to the calorie, while I am surrounded by delicious kid food that I to feed my brood.  Pepperoni pizza, chicken tenders with barbeque sauce, and delicious French fries.  At dinner time, I sit at the table across from the kids, eat my steamed veggies and grilled chicken, and stare at their mouths enviously as they chew.I endure this torture, not because I want to be healthy.  Oh no.  I persevere for one reason.

I have back fat.

For those who have never worn a sari, let me explain the repercussions of my problem.  A sari is a very long piece of fabric that is wrapped and draped around one’s body in a way that creates a gorgeous, flowing outfit.  In order to keep this singular piece of fabric in place, it is tucked into a cotton petticoat that is worn underneath.  This petticoat’s drawstring needs to be cinched tightly in order to hold the tucked fabric in, and in my case, the result is an unattractive bulge of white flesh that I prefer not to showcase to the world.  Although I weigh the same as I did before I gave birth to my five kids, let’s just say, things are not quite the same.

I am American. I am vain.  I want to keep my imperfections to myself.  Plastic surgery, diets, camouflaging clothes, it’s all fair game.  I came of age in an era of Jane Fonda workouts, supermodels on magazine covers, and Baywatch babes on prime time TV, so the pursuit of physical perfection is in my blood.  I wear skinny jeans with long shirts to disguise my problem areas, and when I dress up, I pull out the signature little black dress.  The little black dress, slims the figure, and is perfect for any occasion.

Except an Indian wedding.

Indian women are the epitome of beauty in saris.  The bright colors and sparkles of the fabric exquisitely complement their mocha complexions. Most are thin and petite, and look elegant in their outfits. And even when someone might have a little bulge at the waist, their confidence overshadows that minute detail.

Plus, every white girl knows, fat always looks better when you’re tan.

So, as I stand here in my kitchen, munching on celery, I glare back at that chocolate bar.  I hold it in my hand, and order it, and my inner voice, to leave me alone because I am stronger than they are.  And just to show that chocolate bar who is boss, I bite off half of it and let it melt in my mouth.  That will teach it to mock me. Besides, I only eat half.  I’ll just wrap some extra fabric around my middle at the wedding.  No one will ever know.

Share Button

9 thoughts on “The Battle of the Sari Bulge

  1. As an American expat in India, frequently expected (and encouraged) to wear a sari – I grok your problems, oh, do I ever. I’m discouraged from ever wearing cotton (“It makes you gain 5 kilos! THE STARCHING OH THE STARCHING!”), and with the questionable blessing of a large bust, all my cholis end up being tiny little things where my midriff is so cheerfully and unabashedly exposed that I look for fabric-matching shops to get second, longer, blouses made.

    I have a local (Indian) friend who cheated: she had her tailor stitch in the pleats. Now she just tucks one side into the petticoat, wraps, tucks in her pre-folded pleats, uses a little hook-and-eye closure to close the rest, and she’s done. I’ve also heard of new designer saris using a pattern that has the hook-and-eye and prestitched pleats with the extra fabric removed. I’m not sure I want to go that far (I take pride in being able to tie a sari), but the sari – out here in Uttarakhand, at least! – is changing.

    • Darcey,

      I’m glad to know I’m not alone in my midriff exposing insecurities! I’d like to have one of the new, pre-stitched saris…I can’t dress myself in a sari, and feel like a mannequin, standing there for 20 minutes while my other people dress me. I admire you for being able to tie a sari!

  2. Quite a few of my white family and friends had the same issue at my wedding in India. They absolutely did not want to reveal their white fatty flesh around their backs or middles. A couple of them actually opted to wear fitted t-shirts instead of the sari blouses! Others wore suits instead of saris.

    • Sharell, I’m so glad to know I’m not alone! I’ve not seen the fitted t-shirts with a sari before! Cool idea!
      I’m actually slowly trying to learn to get used to exposing my back in saris these days. My husband always tells me that confidence is what’s beautiful. My mom will be going to her first Indian wedding soon. It should be interesting getting her into one! 🙂

  3. I’m sure you rocked that sari. I feel your pain – my cousin is getting married next month and she is a model, and her friends are models, and they’re all my age and we’re all going to be wearing very unforgiving saris. I’m 20 lbs overweight so today I started to diet. Then I ate chips and salsa because it’s finals time and I’m stressed out, so whatever: diet starts again tomorrow! I am terrified at the idea of being the only fat girl in a sari at that wedding!

  4. I admire your determination and appreciate your info. I am an american married to a Pakistani, and you would think that in over 30 years of marriage I would have worn one many times. But I have not had a sari on for years. Primarily out of avoidance. Sari’s are truly beautiful and a picture of elegance. I have always been fascinated by the gorgeous fabrics, stitching and trims. Yes, I would like to be that girl that wears a sari with confidence, but instead I can completely relate to the woman about the total awkwardness of having someone put a sari on you. I remember feeling soooo American and so clueless waiting for whoever finished dressing themselves to install my sari on me. Once on, I was hyper-aware of it slipping, sitting down, and the little children that wanted to be picked up or sit on my lap. I was just not the picture of confidence. This summer we will be attending our niece’s wedding. I love my husband’s family, and want to dress appropriate to this lovely occasion. As I understand, now, saris can have pre-stitched pleats and very large hooks and eyes to make the wrapping and tucking easier and more secure. I purchased two new saris for the event, neither one has hooks and eyes or pre-stitched pleats. I know how a sari is wrapped, but I have had so little practice in recent years, I would feel so much better knowing I could just wrap and hook for a nice look, and have it stay securely in place, so I could just enjoy the evening. I have not been able to figure out if the hooks and eyes are placed on the sari or petticoat or both. There is a lovely Indian woman where I purchased my saris, her shop also provides a tailor. If I know how a sari is pre-stitched with pleats, and where the hooks and eyes are placed, her shop may be able to sew it for me. I would really appreciate any information. Thanks so much.

    • I wish I could help you, but I’m also one to have to wait while my mother-in-law dresses so she can work her magic on my sari! My daughter has worn the kind with the pre-stitched pleats, but it also took a little doing to wrap and tuck it properly. I have an Indian friend who never learned well either, and she watches You-Tube how-to videos when she needs to wrap a sari. You’re right, it is hard to have confidence that it’s not going to fall off when we aren’t used to them. Maybe some other readers will have suggestions?…

  5. Pingback: Reader Question: Advice Needed on Sari Pleats | Southern Life, Indian Wife

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *