I'm the friend Parineeti Chopra allegedly body shamed, and I'm not offended at all

I'm the friend Parineeti Chopra allegedly body shamed, and I'm not offended at all

Body shaming is a real issue. An innocent joke between friends is not.
20 Aug, 2016

"You're so crazy!” she said as she fell to the ground laughing hysterically. “How can a truck have eyes?" This joke wasn't very funny, but my special brand of slapstick humour always got her into fits of giggles. She was rolling on the paving stones that line Oxford Road in Manchester as bystanders stared and I tried my level best to get her back on her feet.

This moment defines my now decade-long friendship with Parineeti Chopra.

The day I met Parineeti at university, we immediately clicked. Despite our vastly different origins — I'm from Quetta, Pakistan and she's from Ambala, India — we found we shared similar small-town values that drew us close.

It was even better to discover Parineeti's silly side; we shared a taste for crass humour and sidelined anyone who was a bit of a prude. Our absolute passion for Bollywood and shared love for Madhuri Dixit allowed us to indulge in intellectually stimulating (or that's what I would like to believe) conversations for hours.

We've been jokers from the start - Photo courtesy the writer
We've been jokers from the start - Photo courtesy the writer

Parineeti calls me her best friend.

In a recent interview she said: “Shahzaib is from Karachi and I am now in Bombay. We met in Manchester as students, and we’ve been friends for 10 years now. He is the male version of me. We hardly get to meet – maybe once a year – but I speak to him very often. At university we were the duo that was always laughing or making others laugh. There was a time when I lay in the middle of the road, laughing away while cars drove by, only because he said something funny.”

So it was ironic that a few days ago a funny video message that Parineeti sent me was blown out of proportion and used to attack her.

Knowing my craze for Bollywood, this year Parineeti was sweet enough to wish me happy birthday along with Alia Bhatt. I loved receiving the birthday message and I shared it with my friends. Very soon though, her perfectly friendly, joke-y comment that I should “eat less and become thin” had made headlines and she was accused of ‘body shaming’ me.

Let me make this clear: I did not, and do not, feel that Parineeti body shamed me.

Parineeti is a great friend. Along with her warmth and empathy, she is always ready for a laugh. Even with her busy schedule, she is approachable and has always been there as a pillar of support to share my happiness or offer a shoulder to cry on. Between us, she has adjusted more to make our annual globetrotting happen regularly.

Parineeti and I also share something else that makes us great friends: our love for food. We’re big foodies. Over the course of our friendship, when we felt hungry, time didn’t matter. We have cooked lavishly at three in the morning, eaten pizza for breakfast and parathas with evening tea.

Trying to stay fit while indulging our cravings hasn’t been easy for either of us, and we’ve helped keep each other motivated. She has wonderfully transformed, and I admire her for that.

As for me — yes, I am still slightly overweight. As Joey from Friends says, “I’m curvy and I like it!” But all jokes aside, Parineeti inspired me to make a change and I lost 8kg in friendly competitiveness over the past few months. I was pleased, and my mother and family doctor were in tears of joy.

I’d tried to stay silent after this so-called body shaming made its way into the news, but I feel I have to speak out now.

And what I’d like to say is, I’m irked on a lot of fronts.

First, the fact that someone used a personal video to attack an individual disgusts me.

Second, I feel it abhorrent that people would choose to accuse Parineeti of body shaming when she herself has been so vocal about the issue (which is real and important).

She has worked incredibly hard to achieve a certain level of fitness, and she of all people knows what it’s like to be teased about her weight. She would never do that to me.

Third, I find it hard to believe that people think friendship should be policed.

I mean, if people hold such rigid views about what friendship should and shouldn’t look like… well, you should hear some of the jokes Parineeti and I share! You’d probably want to jail us both!

I feel guilty for drawing my best friend into a hurtful conversation - Photo courtesy the writer
I feel guilty for drawing my best friend into a hurtful conversation - Photo courtesy the writer

Such a strong negative response inhibits the openness of people on social media and deters sensibility and normalcy from existing.

I'm big on self-deprecation which allows my close friends to banter while maintaining appropriate respect and understanding. Therefore, the baseless hatred I've seen, directed at something that was just a joke, is quite hurtful.

It also makes me feel guilty — not for my body, but for drawing Parineeti into a hurtful conversation.

So to all those who are still not happy: since this video generated a lot of hype and some people definitely want more, I will now reveal all the dirty, rude things my best friend has done or said to me in the past, and I am adding appropriate hashtags for your convenience:

1) She once called me dinosaur #DinosaurShaming

2) She snatched my last piece of chocolate #FoodShaming

3) Once she said I looked constipated #PottyShaming

4) She once said I’m toxic #BritneyBlaming

5) We went for 9-pin balling #UnnecessaryGaming

6) She visited a zoo with me #LionTaming

7) She told me lame jokes #ConstantLaming

8) She repeated what I just said #Saming

9) We both sucked at archery #UselessAiming

10) We sent each other video messages #FriendlyMemeing

And while you go ahead and share the above, maybe you’ll also find it in your heart to remember the positive side of her now-controversial video message to me — that, at a time when technology and instant fame can cut us off from our friends, Parineeti made a special effort to wish me on my birthday.

She got Alia Bhatt to wish me too, and totally made my day. She showed me what good friendship is all about, and didn’t let her stardom colour the way we conduct our friendship, lame jokes and all.

I hope by now, the point is clear. Life should not always be taken so seriously, and sometimes it is appropriate and necessary to see things as they are, not what we would like them to be.

The writer can be reached at @shahzaibis


Syd Aug 20, 2016 12:52pm
I wish I had such a brutally honest, slapstick humorous friend like Shezzy... Oh wait, I already do have. Muah! Love you Shezzy pezzy!
Fawad A Khan Aug 20, 2016 01:00pm
Oh come on man, why don't you just say it, you're in love with her.
Shahram Aug 20, 2016 01:05pm
Friends cant be "friends" when you are a celebrity.
Muhammad Ahmed Aug 20, 2016 01:19pm
Wow.... PC police online is going to ruin friendships and tell us how we nned to behave with our friends. Kudos to author for standing by his friend. Eating in moderation is something all of us should be doing and telling that to anyone does not constitute body shaming. We are entering an age where our political correctness is going to make hypocrites out of all us on social media. Hate speech or words that can result in bullying should certainly be discouraged on social media but such type of exaggerated reactions should certainly be avoided. By the way, author and Parineeti chopra should consider making a movie about indian and pakistani friends of different genders hanging around chilling without any romantic element. This may be the best way to address this wave of crazy hatred between two neighbors and allow for discussing taboo in our cultures regarding males and females having great platonic friendships.
Pradeep J Aug 20, 2016 01:23pm
Well written.. Thats a personal video message between friends.. Who are others to judge.... Friends do talk like that... Now days it has become to difficult to communicate without someone getting offended
shubs Aug 20, 2016 01:44pm
Thanks for letting us know. Of course, we were in a state of shock, the economy was close to collapse, Brazil cancelled the rest of the Olympics and even Donald Trump stepped out of the race. But now it's going to be ok. Can't wait for Obama's statement tomorrow.
Katkatha Aug 20, 2016 03:01pm
Why was a personal video posted pn public space if this was private?
Katkatha Aug 20, 2016 03:03pm
Why did Alia ask PC if she had any tips? Looks like a video created to cause controversy!!
MK Aug 20, 2016 06:22pm
@shubs yes please do check for Obama's response tomorrow! I love your intellectual capability to read the Images section and look for news on politics.
XYZ Aug 20, 2016 08:08pm
I'd agree with the author and say yes, I completely understand that friendly banter between two individuals can push the boundary of what is appropriate behaviour or language, because the two have mutually established what their positions are and don't have to provide each other context for ever statement. But. 1. The conversation was not private. 2. It also comes from the same person who has a tendency for confused and unprogressive statements. She said that she is not a feminist and is grateful for "bollywood pressure" to lose weight.
TRON Aug 21, 2016 09:57am
Is it self publicity?
Salman Aug 21, 2016 11:51am
People forget twitter and fb private messages should be exchanged on dm or messenger . It is ur own fault
Salman Aug 21, 2016 11:52am
@Fawad A Khan so you are inlove with modi? Dont be so judgemental .keep your mind filth to yourself
Bankim Aug 21, 2016 04:06pm
Friends are diamond for ever
Mohit Aug 21, 2016 08:03pm
#Saming :D Awesome...