Mindy Kaling doesn't want to be called "thin"—here's why
Mindy Kaling is basically Christmas all year round in human form. Let’s count all the gifts she gives us on the regular, shall we? She dazzles us hard with her brilliant comedy The Mindy Project (the new season hits Hulu September 15th), she comes out with a must-read memoir every few years (Why Not Me? hits bookstores the same day), both she and her onscreen alter ego Mindy Lahiri are a constant fashion inspiration (the Mindys have inspired us to mix patterns with wild abandon and wear colors hereto found only on tropical fish), and she’s also a regular source of just plain great insights, wisdom, and advice.
In a recent profile of Kaling in The Guardian, she talks about how, as a woman in Hollywood who is neither white nor skinny, she is frequently described as “real,” a description that makes the star bristle.
“I don’t want to be real,” she says in a section of her new book excerpted by The Guardian. ” When I think of things that are ‘real’, I think of income taxes and Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Real is bad! I want fantasy!”
Kaling awesomely cops in this excerpt to the fact that she’s just as susceptible to image pressure as anyone else.
“The fact of the matter is,” she writes, “I absolutely do try to conform to normal standards of beauty. I am just not remotely successful at it.”
Even though she feels the pressure, the badass thing about Kaling is that she pushes back against the negativity because she wants to be worthy of her role-model status.
“I never want to be part of the problem. I want to always be as body-positive as girls hope that I am.”
In her interview with The Guardian, she talks about how she not only identifies as a “cute, chubby girl,” but she embraces the identity:
“If I call myself a cute, chubby girl, the natural kind woman’s response is, ‘You’re not chubby! You’re beautiful! And thin!’ And I always want to hug the person and say, ‘It’s OK, I identify as someone who is cute and chubby – that doesn’t mean I’m not worthy of love and attention and intimacy.’ And also, my priorities are not such that I’m mortally offended by someone thinking that.”
Later, she perfectly explains why we all have to let any insult or slight about our bodies carry the least weight on the grand spectrum of insults and slights that can be hurled our way.
“Insults about the way I look can’t be the thing that harms me and my heart the most. It has to harm me the least. If I have a daughter, I’m going to tell her that. Far too many women are much more hurt by being called fat or ugly than they are by being called not smart, or not a leader. If someone told me that I was stupid or that I wasn’t a leader, or that I wasn’t witty or quick or perceptive, I’d be devastated. If someone told me that I had a gross body, I’d say, ‘Well, it’s bringing me a lot of happiness.’ Like, I’m having a fine time of it. Having my priorities aligned like that has helped me have a happier life, I think.”
We love every bit of what Kaling says here. It’s hard if not impossible to be immune to body negativity in this world. And it’s healthy to be honest about being vulnerable to this insidious force. At the same time, Kaling fights back and she fights back hard, and the way she works to neutralize the threat of body negativity and embrace and love herself is a truly beautiful thing to behold, and something we are so grateful to Kaling for being such an A+ role model. Mindy, you are as body-positive as we hope you are, and we thank you for that.
The entire Guardian profile can be found here (and it’s well worth a read, go Mindy!)
(Image via Fox)