Sheetal blogs about her thoughts and experiences on body image for THICK DUMPLING SKIN.

‘You’re too skinny.’ I heard that all my life growing up. And I hated it.
There is an equal struggle within the community of ‘skinny’ that isn’t really talked about. Some people genuinely have a hard time gaining weight. It’s real.I imagine that some folks reading this aren’t going to relate to my struggle with body because generally if you are thin, no one cares. No one wants to hear a thin person discuss weight issues as it is often interrupted with statements such as, ‘I wish I had your problems. You have no idea what it’s like.’ I can appreciate that but the truth is, you never know what’s going on in a person’s head. It was annoying to be constantly reminded that you weren’t appealing enough because you were too skinny. There was an inordinate amount of food constantly forced upon me. And I was made fun of. Trust me, there is an abundance of ways to torment skinny people.Then I moved to Hollywood. And suddenly, I wasn’t too skinny anymore – I wasn’t skinny enough. I discovered a very special slice of the absurd. There were women that were far thinner than me and it was not only the norm, but also what was aspired to. I was in a new world with new rules that could clinch a job. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

‘You should lose 10 pounds. Then you would be TV thin.’

‘You’re not going to eat that are you? I need you to fit into wardrobe later.’

‘You sure you want to eat today? You are going to be doing a love scene later.’

‘You should get breast implants.’

‘Ever thought about a nose job?

‘You just ate a whole pizza. You’re going to throw that up right?’

‘You really have to work on your legs.’

‘You have a big ass for a skinny girl.’

‘Your body has so much potential.’

‘Which diet will you be on for the shoot?’

I was baffled. People would stare at me when I ate bread, took 2nds, and indulged in dessert. They couldn’t believe I wasn’t on some cleanse or diet fad.

And I didn’t care.

There is incessant distortion everywhere. You just get to a point where you drown out the noise. Right or wrong, my family and people in L.A. were just projecting what made sense to them from their cultural viewpoint. I will probably always be too skinny for my family. And will probably never be skinny enough for Hollywood. But I’m me. The healthiest me I can be.

Does it get to me at times? Yes. Is it frustrating? Absolutely. I have had my moments. There are bad days and good days. I have my hang-ups. I know my body is ‘unproportioned.’ But I have accepted it. Just like I have to grasp a new grind as my body changes now that I am getting older.

If I had swallowed the inane, I could’ve developed any of a number of serious issues. Unfortunately, eating disorders are rampant and heartbreaking. I feel lucky I was able to separate fact from fiction. Ironically, I think if I hadn’t had my Indian nurture, it could’ve turned downright dangerous. Instead, I found balance. Refreshing peace.

You can surround yourself with the best people and have a very supportive family and still fall prey. I’ve seen a spectrum of experiences. I am grateful to have good people in my life but I think it’s less about who is around us and more about what’s in our head. The relationship we have with ourself is the most important and vital.

There will always be someone with something to say or judge or compliment or criticize. And none of it should matter. The good or the bad.

You need to get right with you. And then, even if the worst is flung at you, it won’t matter. ‘It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.’ (W.C. Fields)


Sheetal | Los Angeles/New York | USA

Sheetal Sheth burst onto the scene with raves in her debut, playing the lead in the groundbreaking film “ABCD.” Since then, she’s starred in over 17 feature films and numerous TV shows and has earned a loyal following. Perhaps best known to mainstream film audiences for starring opposite Albert Brooks in LOOKING FOR COMEDY IN THE MUSLIM WORLD, Sheetal has become a favorite in the indie film world, known for her provocative performances in a wide range of memorable roles.  She won 3 Best Actress nods in the festival circuit for THE WORLD UNSEEN and 1 for WINGS OF HOPE, with the former going on to win 11 SAFTA’s (South African equiv. to the Oscars). Her latest TV stints include NCIS: LA, ROYAL PAINS, and NIP/TUCK. Sheetal has represented such brands as Reebok and CHI haircare. She was also the first Indian American to appear in Maxim. She takes an active interest in politics, served in AmeriCorps, participates in BBBS, and promotes organizations such as Women’s Voices Now.  Follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

12 Comments

  • Adri says:

    You’re just perfect the way you are, because you accept it and are happy with yourself.

  • Solo'Au says:

    Gurl, who in their right mind complained about your big booty? Silly people don’t know what they are talking about… “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, I behold that you’re quite beautiful…

  • OpenYourMind says:

    Glad you didn’t give in to becoming another silicone addict with an eating disorder. Hollywood’s got enough of these, unfortunately. You’re oviously a strong person & beautiful inside and out. Be proud of saying ‘no’. People who want to change others aren’t even worth a second of our time. Take care, be strong and always be yourself.
    Oh, and never forget to enjoy FOOD! 🙂 Bon appetit, hottie!

  • Su says:

    Wow…I can totally relate…grew up with the same annoyaning thing. I was also ‘too skinny’ growing up, and couldn’t really talk about it with friends who all wanted to lose weight. I would even go as far as eating more than what I could handle, hoping I could at least look ‘normal’. Funny thing is, I really could eat as much as I did, and then had to deal with either looks of amazement – or disgust. Either way…I know it’s a process…and you’re right about the relationship with ourselves being the most important 🙂

  • Mary E says:

    Thank you for you post. I admit to being envious of women thinner than I am and buying into the belief in our greater suposably civilized society that “you can never be too thin”. It turns my stomach to know I have taken this thought to a level of condemnation. My dissatisfaction with my body became melded to feelings of dissappointment and disgust transforming my body as a visual consequence of all the seeming inadequacies and failures I had ever experienced with a resounding claim: “you’re just not good enough to succeed” — success being wrapped in achieving some mythical image of a perfectly shaped body, as well as having a “perfect” life, job relationship . . . whatever. Success determined by what and by whom?
    Ultimate success to me is simply learning to love–learning to love others as well as love myself. It is the latter I struggle most with.
    I cannot say I do not still harbor a deep dissatisfaction with my body. However, I believe we are all spiritual beings here having a physical experience on this earth. I believe our bodies are vessels for our spirits and we are here to learn lessons in our lives–how ever many lives it takes. Sometimes the body we are in is part of the lesson.
    I am learning to love and appreciate the mastery of my body. The sheer fabulous mechanism of my brain, muscles, blood, bone, all the its inner workings that allow me to breathe and carry me through this life.
    I do know what it feels like to feel disproportioned and dissatisfied with how you look. But Sheetal let me tell you, you are perfect in every way. No one on earth has your and proportions and together and every millimeter of you forms a very lovely unique you. You are truly a beautiful human being. I feel blessed and honored to know you. I know we don’t really know each other, but I am happy you are here. I am also glad you are accepting of who you are. You are, beyond a doubt, the brightest star in Hollywood. Your skill and talent speaks volumes to the art and craft of acting. I look forward to more of what your wonder-filled, glorious life will unfold. You are like the clouds: limitless. Blessings and love to you always, Sheetal Sheth. From my heart to yours, Namaste. 

  • mervat mkhyber says:

    You know what!! I am not too fat but my body can gain calories in a Guinness speed 😀 that always lead me to control myself from eating many favorites foods :(… my sister have a skinny body and we always discuss that issue…. …When I try to wear my pants and I can’t do that because of the increased weight, i always shout my sister “as a joke “(I Hate You ) because she can wear what she wants without thinking or being afraid from showing the disturbing details in the body …when its midnight watching movies or drinking MATTE she can move to kitchen and bring some foods to eat and of course I can’t do the same thing (ooh what a feeling :$.etc…. I always wonder why she gets angry from those who said:” you are so skinny”…but one day she said to me “you will never understand what I mean”…….and I said the same thing to her…that means we can’t understand each other, i think the fact that usually we use to see the problem according to the suffering of each one of us without thinking of others..your words made me understand my sister more, but with that,plz allow me to say, you are so lucky of having this stomach ,and you should thank god because he gives you the right to eat whatever you want without feeling remorse later …ha :)..thanks!!

  • Lailing Gabales Sarcon says:

    I get that comment all the time.. it's frustating because u eat what u want to eat, and u feel good about yourself for not depriving urself with food and then people will scrutinize u and calling u thin.. I bothered listening to them at first, and then after a long time of trying to impress them by trying hard to not be the thin person, I got fed up, and was like what the hell?, I'm thin and I couldn't get myself any fatter and I have it in my genes.. I could swallow a dinosaur, and I believe I still can't be any fatter.. I love my physique, it's a shame other people won't appreciate other people for who and what they are.. I'm thin, I have brown skin, I am a Filipino and I love who I am.

  • We can never Please Everyone out there..so Just be urself that's enough for a lifetime…and u r getting more beautiful with time…timeless beauty… 🙂

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  • diane says:

    I luv this so much!
    When i was growing up i also got teased & people would call me names at school & i lost what little confidence i did have. Then people would sometimes say i had a food dissorder & stuff like that, which i never have had. I eat normal but always seem to stay the same waight. Now i just dont let it bother me.
    Nobody is perfect and lifes too short to try to be!:-)

  • Kavita B F Premchan says:

    Excellent piece. The best advice you can give anyone is exactly what you said about yourself 'be the healthiest you that you can be'

    You (general you) know better than anyone else how your eating choices affect your lifestyle. It's up to you to change it if you want to.

    I don't think any adult need another telling them they're too skinny or too fat. They already know that. Everyone faces their own devils and if you're not helping the situation don't make matters worse.

    My father always told me that if you have nothing good to say then you should keep quiet. However, that doesn't mean you should keep quiet about injustices in the world. As long as you're making the world a better place by your words and actions then that's wonderful.

  • Minn Xyu says:

    How strong a mind you have.Everyone has his or her own trouble,or a trouble in other’s opinions,such as your weight and my sexual orientation.It’s an honor and pride thing to follow your heart while globalization make us sink into crowd but still lonely in spirit.A changed enviroment may prompt or reverse our thought,however,our soul need to be recognized,judged even criticized by ourselves anytime anywhere,which is the only one thing worth to do in our whole life.LOVE U my dear S’S.

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