‘Your thighs are big, have you tried running’, ‘Your arms are huge!!’, ‘Should you wear that short dress?’, ‘Perhaps eat less, try eating chapatis it will help you lose weight, ‘Try lemon water with honey?’, ‘ Please exercise or walk and see how quickly you’ll lose your weight.’ These sentences may seem like simple statements to you, yet to me they are times when I was body-shamed by strangers or by friends as well as even by my own family. It’s alarming to see that it has been a nominal social practice for a long time, be it at home, school, social gatherings.
Adding to the stress are the columns in magazines “10 ways to lose weight” like we don’t get enough unsolicited diet recommendation from the vaguely connected aunties we meet in a random party.? Skinny people are not spared either, often lanky kids get questioned “You are so thin for your age! Ask your mother to give you some chicken”. Body shaming affects both the genders, but more stressed on women in a patriarchal society like India. We overlook the pot bellies on men but a few inches around a women’s arms seem to itch the societies eyes?! Speak of double standards!!
Well, I have always been ‘chubby’ and ‘healthy’ most of my life, Innocent Remarks like ‘motti’ or ‘elephant’ even ‘fatty’ were thrown at me. I never realized how real my hate for my body was when I stopped going shopping for clothes, and being shamed when asking the shopkeeper “You have clothes for my size ??” I couldn’t discern whether the kids walking past me are laughing at me or just some innocent joke, when the clothes look good on others, but looks bad on you, when every pair of eyes around you is your unsolicited weight counter, when any failure of yours is a multi-faceted failure because the first part of it is always that you are fat!!! Leave alone the stress baggage that comes along when you reach the taunting age of “marriage”, from relatives’ constant debate on the treatments and diets to lose weight, the shop- keepers being expert fashion consultants of which dress can camouflage the bulging curves .
The society has taught us well how not to be comfortable in our own skin and not love the body we have no matter what!! Media in India has been a huge tool in promoting the culture of Body or Fat shaming and not to mention the infamous Bollywood setting unrealistic beauty standards.
It took a long time for me to accept the fact that my body is my body, and it’s doing its job to keep me alive and breathing. If people have a problem with it, it’s their problem and not mine really!! My identity or confidence or talents are not rooted in the size of my waist or shape. Of course, It is still a tough and an ongoing journey, but I have learnt to love my body, love everything it is capable of, and everything that it can make me feel. I began to live without hiding, I let myself be seen as loudly as my voice is heard.
Sometimes it’s not entirely people’s fault of them being chubby or fat, blame it on the genes, some grave illness, medicine side effects, hormonal imbalance or low metabolic rate.!! Even worse not all diets or exercises work on all. It’s not one solution fit all. Indeed, Obesity is a growing health issue but shaming the person is just underlaying unaccepted .We fail to understand the character of the person is not determined by the fat to muscle ratio.
Its high time we stand against Body shaming and it starts from our home. We are responsible in raising our next generation by teaching them to say NO to Body shaming… It’s not Ok to comment on people’s appearance, we need to be bold enough to confront body shamers and raise awareness about this subtle pandemic. Let’s practice acceptance, love and tolerance. Let’s live and let others live.
By Lincy Hepsiba
She is a pure Bengaluru breed, Engineer by education, Portfolio manager by qualification, Creative soul and artist by passion, Quit her 9 to 5 job to pursue her love for food. Currently exploring the zenith of Italian food and wine in Italy! She is delightfully chaotic, being her unapologetic self …Definitely pretty !!!… pretty kind, pretty funny, pretty smart and pretty strong.
She says..” She is perfectly imperfect and Loving her is a splendid journey”