Enough of body shaming, please!

(DISHA KHARE)

“Hey! When will you lose weight?”
“Bro! You shouldn’t eat this much.”
“Oh, you have a knee issue? Must be because of your weight!”
“Beta, you have grown fat, and I don’t like it (followed by a pitiful smile)”
I have always been chubby and towards a heavier side. I was kinda cute actually 😛
I was quite confident with my body, my skin. The thought of being slim never occurred to me as I was small then. Too carefree, no tensions.
Exactly how a kid is supposed to be.
But, this carefree attitude started taking an ugly shape. I won’t go into the details as I am not here to blame people. It’s the society on the whole that has let me down. Let’s just say that a 5-year-old kid was made to believe that bodyweight is all that matters. How developed can a child’s brain be at this age? I was compared to other kids, even my cousins, and made to believe that I am fat. I faced this for almost 20 years of my life. My parents are not involved in this, but yes some so-called ‘well-wishers’ are.
How little was I when this thought started growing up in my mind that appearance is everything and being slim/tall is all that matters. Happily, my people used to say ‘XYZ is very beautiful. Humare Ghar ki betiyan toh badi hi sunder hain’. At that point, I liked hearing that (or we were made to like it). Beauty was stressed so much that nobody realized how kids will start looking at life. How fake our lives will become! The same level of pressure was never put on men as that’s how our society is — where men with bellies are regarded as ‘rich and healthy’ whereas it’s opposite for girls.
The importance of appearance was engraved in us(or just me) so deeply that when I started losing it(according to them), I started losing my confidence. I felt inferiority complex in front of those who looked better than me, who were slim.
And that’s what society made me believe. That I am FAT. That I am ugly.
Initially, I was able to ignore the mocking when my friends/colleagues called me fat. It was just one joke, so whatever. Doesn’t matter.
But it became a problem when they easily took away my confidence. Telling someone once that they are heavy can be damning in itself but can still be taken lightly; whereas repeating it every time you meet them does hurt them. There was a phase in my life when I was not in a healthy mental state; when I was seeking encouragement and positivity; and all this society gave me was mental pressure, disappointment, diet and workout plans. I was seeking validation from these people. I was so wrong. My bad. At least I got to know who really matters.
They never cared to ask me ‘How are you feeling Disha?’ NEVER. I usually avoid wearing sleeveless, as I don’t feel comfortable when people make fun of my fat arms. I mainly wear Kurti to office, trying to hide my thighs, as they will again make fun of my fat. I want to wear sleeveless, want to feel comfortable in a jeans and t-shirt, but will this society just accept me the way I am or continue bullying me? I like wearing crop top and jeans, but become too conscious by the glares I get. Never had I been this conscious in my life. And I am just 24!!
Now when I look back, these people were no better than those Fair and Lovely adverts that profess only on the fair-skinned people to be accepted in the society.
There can be a lot of reasons why a person is not physically fit. The person might be suffering from some medical issues, or even Depression(a very common example leading to weight gain). I have my issues with physical health that led to weight gain and have been struggling with them for 2 years now. But the maximum weight I have put on is the one given by this society, my friends — the people who I consider close. I am not even talking about the other mental problems this society has given me.
Friends mock each other. Which is good, we all need such friends who make fun of each other. But where is the limit? If that friend takes away your confidence? Or wins in making you believe that you are not an ideal match for this society, or compares you to some other girl (I am not even commenting on the ‘Comparison part’, it will invade the purpose of this article). After all this, won’t my confidence shatter?
Honestly, if you genuinely care about someone being unhealthy due to over-weight, there are ways to communicate that. And the worst possible way to help that person is to constantly mock them in public. You can always tell people privately what you feel and the reasons behind it, without creating drama. But then I forgot, this world values drama above sensitivity!
People never realize what effect their discouraging words can cause.
They just think that they are cracking ‘one small joke’. One small joke does not mean it’s perceived as a joke at the other end. You don’t know the history associated with this joke for that person. Or throughout life, that person has only been addressed as ‘Moti’. And I being a genuine follower of cracking lame jokes, is supposed to ignore it just because I am funny? There is a limit to everything.
It’s NOT funny anymore. Not because I or people similar to me are considered weak and cannot take jokes/ are sensitive, but because we have been through a lot of humiliation and body shaming, which for some people was just some recreational one time fun. I am sorry if I cannot take your joke anymore or if I am being rude. But the truth is, I seriously DON’T care anymore. Thanks to you, you have made me immune to this now. I have started loving myself because of your bullshit taunts and humiliation.
I have some health issues, maybe mental issues also. And I have no problem with that. I am not completely stable, but I’m glad that I can gather myself now. And if I have ever made a joke on any person based on body shaming, be it fat-shaming, height shaming(it’s not in our control, so just ignore the society if they even boast about the height for which they did nothing), body hair shaming(losing hair or getting bald patches is not in our control), or any discrimination based on color, then please forgive me. I understand the pain now.
The journey of how I gained confidence?
The journey of gaining confidence was a big one. I always used to put people first, instead of me. I started believing their negative suggestions, comments so much that I forgot my own identity. After a lot of reading and talking to my friends who also went through similar stuff, I realized the problem is not with me, but with the ones commenting on these materialistic things.
I’ve also realized that irrespective of what you do and achieve, there will be people pulling you down. Messi, facing immunodeficiency syndrome, was continuously mocked for his height but he didn’t let them stop him. Adele who was allegedly dumped by her boyfriend for her looks, showed the world how her voice could shatter all barriers.
I started learning the meaning of prioritizing ourselves. I realized my value and understood that we need to walk away from anyone who discourages us and lets us down. We don’t need those people. We don’t need to entertain that negative energy. I achieved this by loving myself and accepting myself for who I am. I am more than my weight and I am proud of it.
The moment you realize your worth, things begin to change 🙂
My confidence is back now. I realize my worth now and I am happy with it. I am not perfect, and my imperfections don’t bother me, they make me feel proud 🙂 And for those who still call me fat, I can’t help you and your shallow thinking anymore. So if next time you see me in a sleeveless top with jeans/shorts, or maybe in a short dress, don’t be shocked by my confidence 😉 Repeating my favorite line-
I am more than my weight and I am proud of it.
For those still struggling with the problem of body shaming, it’s time to value yourself first. Love yourself. Meditate. Work-out for fitness and for a better mental health, not to seek any validation from this fake society. The society will not change, but you can. And the only thing you need to change is your attitude towards yourself and these people. You are enough and much more than your looks 🙂