“I wanted to change my entire body because of the hate it received not only from myself but from everyone”. ‘You are too fat’, ‘You are too chubby’, ‘Should you wear that short dress?’, ‘Maybe eat less, you are getting healthy, day by day’, ‘Ever tried drinking lemon water in the morning?’, ‘Please go on walks, see how fast you will lose your weight.’
These sentences may seem like mere statements to you but to me they are instances of the times when I was body-shamed not only by strangers or by friends but even by my own family. Body shaming not only an act of criticising or mocking one’s physical aspects. But it has been the most normalised, systematised and has been an ongoing social practice for very long. It starts from your home and somehow never ends.
The culture around body shaming seems to never mellow down. It starts with our parents and is a big part of our school lives and childhood. It is seen in our family functions, in our schools, in our tuition classes, on social media and even in our closest friend circles.
I have been ‘chubby’ and ‘healthy’ most of my life. I have been ‘chubby’ as a child and even as a teenager. I have been overweight; under-weight and I have been obese because of my relationship with my food and with my body right from my childhood.
I always adored food and always found great solace in it. I loved it so much that it soon became my favourite thing. Food made me happy. Food saved my bad days and was my knight in a shining lunchbox as a child. Food kept me happy until I understood how it was making me gain weight. Remarks like ‘motu’ or ‘elephant’ even ‘graisse’ we’re thrown at me. I have been body-shamed by my closest of friends not only for my body weight but also for the way my body grew.
The school became a living hell for me because body shaming and fat shaming seemed to be the norm in junior classes. I had seen my more ‘healthy ‘friends getting rejected from dances because of their weight. I had my ‘skinnier’ friends getting shamed for their weight and how they would blow away with the wind. “It made people not only fat shame and body shame me but also sexualise my body which made thirteen-year-old me hate my body even more”. I had hit puberty earlier than most of them making me more ‘mature looking’ at an early age.
Puberty made my life hell. It made people not only fat shame and body shame me, but also sexualise my body which made thirteen-year-old me hate my body even more. I always had a small frame and puberty gave me stretch marks and more weight gain which only worsened my dislike for my body. I started dressing down for school. I wore skirts extremely long and I made sure that my shirts were loose as well just so my torso wouldn’t be visible.
I never realised how real my hate for my body was until I stopped looking at mirrors and started to hate shopping. I hated how my body never looked like that of my friends. I hated how my mother thought it would be more appropriate for me to start wearing more ‘loose’ clothes because ‘fat’ people looked good only in loose clothes. These comments scared me so much that even after losing weight I am afraid of wearing fitting clothes. With days passing by it only got worse.
I started hating and being repulsed of my body more than I should have been. I started counting calories and limiting my meals to such an extent that it made me sick as the days passed on by. I started wearing loose clothes and darker colours just to hide my body. Being a girl with a ‘chubby’ body was honestly the last thing I wanted to be. I wanted to be healthy, and I wanted to have a thigh gap and a flat stomach. I wanted to change my entire body because of the hate it received not only from myself but also from everyone.
I started binge watching videos about weight loss and started trying fad diets of all kinds. My body issues only worsened since my body weight kept on fluctuating. I have spent nights crying about how people would call me ‘fat’. My body image overshadowed my self-image. I started to starve myself whenever I gained weight and I rigorously worked out because of this same gain. My stomach was not ‘flat’ enough and for me my body was never ‘good enough’. My body was never enough because it did not look like that of others.
My body didn’t even look like that of my tall friend or like my skinny friend or my curvy friend. My body looked like my body and somewhere amidst the fashion magazines and cabbage soup diet and weight goals, I forgot to even accept my body for what it did. I forgot that my body’s job was to keep me alive and breathing. It took me a very long time to accept that my body does everything for me.
I learned that bodies are not just for appearance, but they are meant for living. It is time to embrace “Body Positivity” which means unlearn the word ‘fat’ and ‘chubby’ as insults. And to accept your body and to care for it.