Swarna (while trying out a dress at a shopping mall): “Does this dress make me look fat?”
Swarna’s mother: “Beta, jaisi ho waisi hi dikhogi naa.” (Honey, you’ll look just like you are)
Her mom just said it and hoped she’ll laugh it off and forget about it. But she remembers. Because this doesn’t stop here. Swarna buys the dress anyway and resolves to reduce that ‘curve’, paunch being a better word just to be able to look better in something two sizes smaller than her actual body measurements. She is a successful girl, with an independent school of thought, and doesn’t believe in following certain conventions, like getting married and procreating before she ‘misses the bus’ at age 30. She is happy with who she is, and she knows who she wants to be, there isn’t any pretence about her.
As she grows older though, the stigma that plagues every single woman in a country like ours, gets to her as well. She has become a recluse, and this wasn’t by choice. It was the constant nagging that she has had to listen to all her growing up years that has caused this self-esteem problem to surface in her. Why are we talking about this girl, you may ask? Because like her, there are a lot of women out there who are forced to leave their identity behind to fit into what I would like to call a farcical face of the society. Lose weight or you will not look desirable, lose weight or you will remain unmarriageable, lose weight because men and women alike will laugh at you, lose weight because there won’t always be a Pluss, ALL and other brands that will come to your rescue all the time, lose weight because you will not be able to conceive. Okay. Thank you. Understood. Can a woman choose what she wants to do with her body? Have you asked her how she would like to go about this? Or have you checked on her every minute of every day to understand why she is the way she is? What she eats, what her workout regime is, what her sleep pattern is like?
Dear Sir/Ma’am, she could be a size 16 or 18 because she is built a certain way. What we forget are genes, lineage and cultural differences that play a major role in shaping up a person physically as much as mentally. She could really be big-boned, without an iota of fat on her body. Ask, before you judge.
However, before some of you feel that this is a rant of sorts on being called fat by people, I must assure you, Swarna isn’t me. Swarna is the girl who has been body-shamed by almost everyone she has met in her life including the aunty who keeps an eye on her to make her the topic of discussion whenever someone lends her an ear. As far as I am concerned, I look at life on the plus side and am content with that, but not everyone is a sponge (they don’t absorb :P)
All of this year I’ve been reading several articles on how one responded when she was looked down upon for being fat. My argument is, however much these words hurt, you cannot ask anyone to keep their gob shut. So then, why do their words hurt you? Do they earn for you so you can pay your bills? Either ways, it shouldn’t matter. Remember Deepika Padukone’s My Choice that released and earned mixed reactions from all over? This is where the real choice comes in, not choosing who to sleep with and how to take the number higher. Seriously, that is passé. Believe me, it takes a lot to give a cold shoulder to negativity such as this. I was once called a Fat Fuck by someone at work. What astounded me was that it was said by a woman I idolized for a long time till she worked very hard towards shattering that image of hers. Her bad, really. That’s not all, at 29.5 and highly opinionated, there have been many who have personally messaged me to tell me that I am ranting when I talk about things that affect me or just stuff that I want to say. And then there was this time in college when the rumor was I could never get a boyfriend because I was fat. Only if being single wasn’t a matter of choice just like being a hardcore romantic is. I felt the need to share this part with you to assure you that I’ve probably been as burnt as you have been, I just have the balls to face my issues and stand up for myself. With this post, I am only making an attempt to reach out.
A popular Facebook page, Top Knot, posted a video a while ago about what according to several wise people out there plus-size girls cannot do. It’s a pity I stumbled upon it only today else I’d have mustered the courage and written this post long ago. This was only an idea to start my own little revolution to help young girls fight issues such as these but the real motivation came today and I can’t thank Top Knot enough for that. Watch the video and read on…
As you saw, there are a lot of Swarnas out there, there are just a handful few who stand for what they believe in and feel they can lead by example. Not to sound pompous or anything, but I have been that motivation for a lot of seemingly out-of-shape girls whose minds are conditioned to believe that bye-bye arms and thunder thighs are the worst things to happen to a human being, more so a woman, hence the solution… keep it all covered. Never ever ever ever ever ever ever give her a chance to enjoy her youth, her beauty, her body. Grow up, please. Time isn’t waiting for anyone, none of us are getting younger, and celebrating each day is far better than crying over what could have been. Ask one who has lost something precious what the phrase, ‘for one more day’ means to them.
This is where I begin. I want to motivate young girls out there and I want to start right. I do not say don’t exercise, eat cup cakes every day and consider that sprint to the bakery as the best workout ever. Keep your organs healthy, your mind sound and your face glowing, everything else is just a number that will not matter when you grow older and reflect on life. Are you with me on this?
EDIT: Nora Whelan (Buzzfeed) puts the discussion of body positivity into perspective through this recent article of hers. Click here to read it:
Once again, please share credit should you ever feel pumped by my opinion on things. It’s good practice 🙂