She tried, tried and tried so hard, but just couldn’t get into that dreaded piece of cloth. An off-white outfit that she so fondly got stitched for her cousin’s wedding. A dress that had cost her a fortune. The sparkling white stones with emerald pearls made the blouse a bewitching sight. It was just one day to the function and here she was brooding over her exceeded bust size, which she had no idea, came from where? She could have got that dress altered but more than the effort, the thought of looking so fleshy and plump in the function made her lose her heart, followed by major jerks on her confidence and a flood of tears in the eyes. A sense of repulse and the fear of body shaming crept in. She no more wanted to see herself in the mirror.
Disgusted to the core, she recalled how her aunt told her mother once, as to how glucose can result in sudden weight gain in the body. She paid no heed as she always weighed apt and had a good metabolism. She looked chubby and naturally voluptuous but couldn’t be called fat or obese. She never needed a gym or too much of physical activity to maintain her body. She ate well but that hardly reflected. But thanks to an ill-fated accident she had 6 months back that had her consume 35 bottles of glucose over a period of 8 days in the hospital. It was one of the most chewing times of her life.
Wandering who she was???
Yes, yours truly – Nidhi Thawal, 6 years back! That’s me and many other similar women who surrender to immense self-humiliation at the prospect of not conforming to the ‘perfect body’ norms. At that point in time, I wanted a magic wand like the one Harry Potter owned, just to get rid of that those layers stacked up on my waist, those bulging forearms and size that went up from 28 to 34. Just to tell you all — I did make it to the wedding with stealing sights from whoever pointed me on my vast expanse. Like how a thief does!!
Inhabiting a big body wasn’t a thing I was used to. Like any other person would have done, I resorted o exercising and that God forbade ‘DIETING’ or should I rather call it ‘STARVING’. I had to stay away from the most relished food choices and it was mentally perplexing. It thickened the plot even more for me since my body lacked essential nutrients and consequently, my metabolism went for a toss. It is so weird how just one pestering thought takes over everything else in life. My studies suffered too. I no more felt good about myself. The shine, luster, cuteness … everything went off! If my own agony wasn’t enough, the nagging comments, unwanted advice and an insane amount of body shaming yanked my chain even more. What???? I was getting into depression! No, this can’t be happening to me! My body bullied my brain and how??
But you see, body shaming is not only when you are picked by others for the kind of body you reside in. It is also when you stop being cognizant of your own physique. Body shaming is also when you fill yourself with excessive guilt for being too thin or too fat and hold yourself responsible for not fitting the bill of a ‘perfect body’. When you feel like disowning your body and refuse to accept it. It is akin to being ruthless and selfish to something/someone who has been by your side all your life, through thick and thin.
And how self-regarding is that? You cushion all your demons by setting your own conscience free and live in a bubble, instead of bursting it. Which, at the right time, I realized and decided to bolster my apprehensions rather than exposing them to the world and remaining prone to further disgust that it has to offer. I might have lost my sanity over this unless one day I sat and reckoned the medical challenges that came my way and which included alarmingly low levels of hemoglobin, inadequate body mass, blemishes, eye bags, thinning hair texture – all at the age of 23!
“What was your fault if you met with that dreaded accident? The glucose was needed to be injected into your body so you could respond to the medicines and recover. How more logical, scientific and real it can get? Why the hell don’t you understand?” Something inside me said! And thank God it did!
I thought of every obese woman in my life, from my Aunts to new moms to myself back. I realized there was something in common. Which was – A medical condition! My aunt who had a thyroid. A cousin sister who was mothering a 4 months old baby with oodles of weight put on herself. Another cousin sister who just survived a 3.5-month-old miscarriage. My own self who, again, had a medical history for the resultant weight gain. You can’t control how humans around you troll, but you can choose how you respond to it! Some great person said!
Body shaming, at the same time, isn’t only restricted to women but have its undeniable presence in men as well. I have come across a lot of young men running in circles around the gym and prolifically increasing the revenues of artificial ways to sport a chiseled body. The internet too floods with articles/videos crusading ideas to quickly gain/lose weight, which I had once submitted to as well!
“Accept your body and love it unconditionally” may seem a statement, not too easy to imbibe. But nothing comes easy. For me, it has taken almost 4 years to come to terms with my shape. It has caused me face a deranged version of myself whose life was just been reduced to only looking good and thin. It has taken a lot of ridiculous internet browsing to extract recipes that claim to make you slim overnight.
A comparison is another menace altogether that women do to themselves. But you never know that one skinny girl that you’re comparing yourself with, is also not very happy with her body type with her own struggles to accompany it. Every life, body, individual is unique. And everything that is worth achieving doesn’t happen in a blink of an eye. Only because you want a particular thing doesn’t mean you’re entitled to it or suitable for.
A little mindfulness and an effort to let go of everything that made me feel obnoxious about myself sailed me through. An unhealthy body leads to an unhealthy mind. It sabotages every other good thing life has to offer. Before you try to detox your body, you must detox your brain. Not taking away from the significance of exercising, but you have to know how your body reacts to a certain movement, stretch or posture. You have to know your limits. A woman who just had a C-section can’t be doing a 10 KG pull up! Overdoing may do you more harm than good!
As for the people who have convincingly taken charge of fashion policing – “Get a Life” and indulge in something better and productive for your own good. And here’s to women killing themselves of ‘dieting’ to an extent of starvation – “Work on your fitness than achieving picture perfect bodies!”
A fit & active body doesn’t have to conform to the standard weight norms. Do not be ashamed of those extra pounds that you have around your waist! Do not go around giving explanations to people as to why you are/were/have been fat? No matter how much you try to justify, people will always have their own version to say and believe. A version that amuses them and serves as an anecdote to social meets and kitties. Little do they know weight gain can also be a result of medical conditions like stress, thyroid, depression, pregnancy or miscarriages for that matter?
Consciousness is an attribute so indispensable and one must own it. A perfect body is a state of mind. It reflects more in your demeanor. So stop negating yourself. A healthy conscience circumscribes around a body that feels well not the one that only looks well!