By Polina Ivanova


“If you think I’m ‘too big for you’, I assume you don’t have the proper equipment to handle the job…”
Khin Su Su San flashes a mischievous grin. “Some people were not so happy with that one,” she explains, “but I like it.” It’s the tagline for ‘200lb Beauties’, Myanmar’s first event celebrating everything plus-size.
The event, culminating in a boisterous, no-holds-barred and whatever-you-want-bared catwalk, was Khin Su Su San’s brainchild. A radio producer by profession, she’s launched a headfirst attack on the body shaming that she says is ruining many Myanmar women’s lives.

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“Every day, people criticise your weight. Friends, family. People on the street.” Personal attacks and verbal abuse are routine. Khin Su Su San has her own way of dealing with it. “You hear someone shout, ‘you’re so heavy!’ So I shout back. ‘Why are you worried? Are you planning to lift me up?’”
But she has a steely confidence that she knows others don’t necessarily share. Many suffer from depression. Ashamed of their bodies and their weight, they choose not to leave their homes, not to be visible.


“Before, when I was about to go outside, I would feel so self-conscious,” says Nann Laung Hlian, a ‘200lb Beauties’ model. “People would always look at me, tease me.”

 

 

 

“Currently, in Myanmar, fat people are treated as if they are from another planet. They’re ridiculed. They’re the laughing stock of the media, constantly looked down upon.”
“Five years ago it wasn’t like this”, says Khin Su Su San. But as Myanmar opens up to the world, beauty norms are changing and the new pressures on women can be intense.
So Khin Su Su San started with a Facebook group: only for women who weigh over 200lbs. Now with over a thousand members, it’s a space where women support each other, exchange advice and experiences.
Looking at her models, she can see that the movement she’s launched is having an effect. “Now that I’m competing here, I’ve gained confidence… I feel I can do it,” says Nann Laung Hlinn.
“To any fat ladies out there,” she adds, “I’d like to say: don’t feel inferior… Go out and have fun… You are beautiful.”

 

 

 

 

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