December 30, 2008 / 10:21 AM / 9 years ago

Website plays Cupid to battlers of the bulge in India

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - An Indian website promises to deliver king-size romance to millions of overweight men and women in the country, where the plus-sized are often hard-pressed to find a life partner.

<p>The homepage of www.overweightshaadi.com. An Indian website promises to deliver king-size romance to millions of overweight men and women in the country, where the plus-sized are often hard-pressed to find a life partner. REUTERS/www.overweightshaadi.com</p>

Obesity, once seen as a quintessentially Western phenomenon, is fast becoming a major health problem in rapidly developing countries like India and China, where fatter wallets are changing lifestyles.

But the founders of www.overweightshaadi.com say being podgy shouldn’t come in the way of finding the perfect match.

“I don’t think it’s really right to lose weight just so that you can get married,” said Aditi Gupta.

Gupta and her sister Megha Singhal launched the website in October after seeing their cousins and friends being pestered to lose weight.

The Indian media and Bollywood have often been criticized for promoting the idea of slim and slender being the epitome of beauty.

“In today’s context, people have an impression of ‘size zero’ which is not practical,” Gupta said.

More than 100 men and women have registered their profiles on the website so far. Two sets of couples have been matched successfully.

But it’s a start in a country where popular culture forces individuals to be conscious of their figure, making them hit the gym or go on various diets to achieve the right fit.

“People must look at each other in terms of their personality, qualities rather than physical appearance,” said Anand Kumar, a professor of sociology at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.

“There is a stereotype being handed down from generation to generation and it is quite harsh on the obese.”

Several new matrimonial websites have sprung up in India in recent years, including niche portals for those with HIV/AIDS, divorcees or people against the age-old practice of giving dowry.

Writing by Tony Tharakan; Editing by Alistair Scrutton

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