Plus-sized, fun-sized, Oye Moti - just some of the monikers we use for larger-than-your-average sized women. The conversation about body image, body positivity and more importantly body shaming has been brewing for some time now. And we now finally see the issue being talked about in pop culture products. Express Entertainment’s ‘Oye Moti’ brings the issue to the forefront - with a new story in each episode, focusing on different facets of the issueWhile theoretically speaking, entertainment media is under limited responsibility to depict reality as true to form as possible, ‘Oye Moti’ resonates well.
In the first episode we see Hajra Yamin as Gul-e-Rana as a well educated, go-getter with sharp wit and bears the financial burden of her household. She has a positive attitude towards life and yet we see her visibly affected by the continuous taunts of her boss, Syed Jibran as Imran Ali. There’s also the more casual body shaming inflicted by her mother, who keeps reminding her to lose weight because ‘rishtay nahi ayein gey.’ There is also something off about Gul-e-Rana seemingly accepting Imran Ali’s hints at marrying her once she becomes his boss.
The second episode features Hina Dilpazir (Jameela) and Javed Sheikh (Idrees). With Dilpazir constantly fearing that her husband will leave her for a slimmer woman, she embarks on a journey to become a size zero. The episode also briefly looks at the opportunistic culture of so-called slimming centers and drastic weight loss regimes. And full marks for the sisterhood between the saas and the bahu, as opposed to the usual pitting of women against each other.
Sabina Farooq (Malika) and Muhammad Usama (Ahsan) star in the third episode. We see the protagonist’s mother as the body positivity champion who keeps reminding Malika that she is beautiful as she is. Malika, however, is hung up on her body-shaming cousin and feels she must achieve her ‘smartness’ goals in order to gain his fancy. The episode also looks at the rishta culture with the usual shaming by rishta aunties.
The series is a light hearted and uplifting look at the issue - with the women emerging victorious in their battles against body shaming. However, there is something off about fat-suiting slim actors like Hajra Yamin and Sabina Farooq. With Hina Dilpazir being the only vaguely plus sized actor featured so far. Perhaps, there are not enough plus-size young actors to play these roles, which in itself is an issue - beauty standards in the media. There is also the recurring theme of men returning to the plus-sized protagonists after being rejected by other women and being accepted too.
Is this a step forward for body positivity in Pakisani media? Certainly. However, there are many, many miles to go. Unless we can actually have actors of different shapes, sizes and skin color, the case for fair representation remains weak. And this goes for both men and women. The series does start a larger conversation about body positivity and encourages the audience to think of women beyond what they look like.
The show airs every Thursday at 8 pm on Express Entertainment. It is conceptualised by Mukhtar Ahmed, written by Sajjad Haider Zaidi and directed by Muhammad Iftikhar Iffi.