‘Hey Fatso, how much do you eat every day?’
‘Fatso, if you dance, the stage will break down’
‘So fatty, do you purchase two tickets while taking a flight because I am sure you don’t fit into a single seat?’
‘Why is your son so thin? Do you eat away all the food in the house?”
Ah, aren’t these the usual taunts that every girl on the heavier side of the weighing scale has heard at least once in life? Our society has set such ridiculous standards in terms of what gets labeled as beautiful and what goes washed down as ugly that women have been pressurized to follow the norms to perfection since eternity. If one is on the left side of the scale measuring the perfect hourglass figure and the right kind of fair skin, one is believed to be too thin and too dark. However, if one is on the right side of this perfect scale, she is marked as too fat and too pale skinned. To add fuel to the fire, there are corporate houses whose money-making strategy seem to revolve around making young girls believe that the biggest achievement in their lives is to be fair and beautiful or have a skin without acne, pimple, and marks. And some celebrities validate such irrational expectations by being part of such endorsements. There are exceptions though like the handful of celebrities who refuse to be associated with such products or organizations like Naturals Salon who emphasize the true beauty of a woman and also help them become financially independent through employment.
I have always wanted to write about my experiences related to body shaming. After all, it is never a smooth ride for a fat girl in our society. From my experiences, I have understood that most of the times, the general perception is to be judged based on how one looks. So I might have earned two post-graduate degrees or have a proven track record of leadership skills, but people will still be more interested in or concerned about my growing waistline. Strangely as a toddler, being chubby was considered to be cute. Unfortunately, it also gave people the liberty to pull my cheeks because who believes in taking consent from a child or even her parents! As I grew up, the words kept changing from plump to healthy and then overweight, fat, fatty and obese.
Small incidents started scarring my innocent heart. Like for instance, when as a six-year-old, my friends’ brother had refused to let me ride his bicycle more than once because he was scared about me being too heavy for his new acquisition. Or the dance teacher in school who deliberately forced me to stand in the last row during every single performance of our class because she believed that fat girls neither danced well nor looked good. Sports day had eventually turned out to be nothing short of a terror for me because whenever I participated, I could hear some rude remarks related to how the ground shook while I stood there. Not surprisingly though, I managed to achieve a permanent place in the tug of war squad because that’s where ‘heavyweights’ were supposed to belong to.
An innocent soul is not always strong enough to survive such negativity so early on in life. I had always been a topper in academics but such small setbacks and caustic comments on a regular basis could have affected me adversely hadn’t I had a family who never let my confidence shattered. For my inability to perform well in sports, they highlighted my creativity in writing. For my lack of opportunity to perform on stage, they spoke about my oratory skills. Every negative factor associated with my body weight was counteracted by a positive trait associated with my brain and intelligence. And my parents did it without demeaning my school, my teachers or my friends. When one is engulfed with so much of positivity at home, the negative factors lose importance gradually. And that’s what happened to me as well. I stopped getting conscious of the way I looked because I knew that I was much more than those extra kilos on my body.
The next decade went on in moving cities for higher studies and then corporate assignments. By now, I had learned to ignore the jokes on fat people or insensitive colleagues/acquaintances’ comments on my body type. Of course, they hurt at times because one can’t always stay indifferent to statements inflicting pain. I had learned to accept that people in Delhi or Bangalore were no different from the small town that I came from when it comes to their biased attitude towards one’s appearance. Bigger cities had really nothing to do with progressive thinking. Shop assistants at famous retail outlets in malls could still make plus size sound like some contagious disease.
But by then I had a belief etched in my heart – when people couldn’t match one in competition, they tried to pull them down to their level by hitting below the belt. At times, it was also necessary to give it right back to them. I guess this is where I learned to take every negative comment in my stride and return it back with a layer of sarcasm. It is really unfortunate how society doesn’t even spare new mothers. Because a certain celebrity mum managed to lose weight in no time post delivery, it is expected that every woman should follow suit. I would be so amused when I was questioned if I was this fat or did I manage to pile on kilos during pregnancy!
For those itching to voice out their concern or give me an opinion about my weight, I had listed a few solutions for free –
- In case you think that I am uneducated or blind, let me assure you that can see and feel the layers of fat. If I still don’t feel the need to lose weight, it is my prerogative. If I need your advice, be assured that I will reach out to you. Until then, it would do you good to keep your mouth shut.
- Since you consider yourself to be my well-wisher and think it is your duty to warn me about the medical effects of obesity, I have news for you. I am married to a doctor and so medical help is available quite readily in the house.
- Thank you, Uncle or Aunty, for considering it your duty to bring my health back on track. Most of the times, because of your age I can’t really give it back to you but Karma is a bitch and I hope you get a taste of your own medicine sometime soon.
- And to those who can’t seem to find any other way to get even, I would love to say buzz off to you but considering the fact that my tolerance towards inane people has reached an amazingly new high, I hope 2019 brings peace and love in your life (since brain and common sense seem to have decided to part ways with you forever).
For those wanting to start their sermons on how healthy living should be the way forward, let me clarify that I neither advocate obesity nor champion the issue of unfitness. I have always believed in body positivity by voicing out the need for acceptance of one’s body the way it is. I have learned to shut out the trolls and embrace myself the way I am. But I also consider it my responsibility to teach my three-year-old that beauty doesn’t lie in the eyes of the beholder. In fact, I tell him that the idea of beauty resides in those tiny cells in the brain with the hope that the next generation grows up to be much more sensitive and accepting of the fact that beauty comes in different shapes and sizes.
I believe every woman has TRUE BEAUTY within her in all the roles she plays. For over 18 years across 650 plus salons across the country, Naturals has been helping the Beautiful Indian Woman get more beautiful.
Today Naturals Salutes the Beautiful Indian Woman.
Presenting Naturals TRUE BEAUTY