Dalit and womens’ rights activists react in anger to Health Ministry’s tweet suggesting that citizens eat only fruit and vegetables in order to be thin. The ministry later deleted the tweet.
In what is being seen as a brazen move to create a country of vegetarians, the Union Ministry of Health on Sunday, April 22 put out an innocuous-looking tweet, with an image suggesting to citizens of the country what to eat in order to be thin or fat.
The picture on the left showed a plus-sized woman who ate meat, eggs, sausages, doughnuts, fries and drank cola, while the image on the right showed a thin woman who ate only fruits and vegetables. In India, statistics show that almost 80% of the country are meat eaters. Did the ministry mean that almost 80% of the country is fat and only women get plump after eating meat and not men? Were they trying to shame all the meat-eaters in the country?
The Union Ministry of Health had even introduced egg in the Mid-day meal scheme, but in this picture, egg is shown as a fattening substance. The ministry deleted the tweet on Monday afternoon.
Calling the move sickening, Asha Kowtal, Secretary of the Dalit Women’s Rights movement in India, said this image released by the ministry is even more disturbing since it is a form of state violence on the Dalit community, particularly women.“This is nothing but another ploy of upper caste forces to push their agenda on the rest of us. It is well known that eggs and meat are an integral part of our nutrition. So, this kind of tactic is something we detest and condemn completely. Also, this image is an extension of the commodification of bodies of women. Using fat shaming to push communal agenda is sickening,” added Kowtal.
Expressing her shock, feminist Smriti Nevatia said the ministry has hit an abysmal low with this tweet. “Now our oh-so-concerned-about-us Ministry of Health has hit an abysmal new low with its latest poster that blithely fat-shames women, more than they already are by the structures-that-be. In a country where girl children and pregnant women or new mothers are expected to deny themselves food in favour of grown men and young boys, and there is widespread malnutrition, not to mention eating disorders because women are bombarded with size zero notions of beauty, the Ministry in its unwisdom chooses the female form to reinforce all the harmful stereotypes. After all, a man may be obese and still get a dowry, but who’ll marry a fat girl, right? And don’t we all know the communal and casteist agendas behind this glorification of vegetarianism? With carers like these, which woman needs enemies?” says a livid Nevatia.