Body Positive?

I’ve always had a low self esteem, especially when it comes to my body. I grew up in a culture that placed undue emphasis on looks and complexion. As a teenager I was scrawny and dark and didn’t have enough “meat” on my bones. Even at 22 years old and at 5’2″ I weighed 45Kgs. In a society obsessed with fair skin, my dusky complexion never stood a chance.

At an age where all my friends were experimenting with hair cuts, hair removal, and makeup – I was still going to school in oiled hair with 2 plaits. I wanted to curl up in a corner and die. From the time I remember, there were always comparisons about how someone else was always fairer, prettier, and how they looked good in clothes they wore. My own mother sadly was, and to this day remains a staunch proponent of physical beauty.

Weighed under the stream of constant criticism, I never felt beautiful. I never learnt to love my body for what it was. And in the pursuit of that ideal of physical beauty, I missed out appreciating my worth as a person. I thought if my complexion cleans up and I put on some weight, I would be more appealing to everyone. And I was in that phase for a while, but as soon as my weight crossed 55kgs, I was assaulted with the accusations of being fat! Since then it has been a whole new spectrum of body shaming.

I admit I didn’t have a very healthy lifestyle, I depended on my metabolism to tide me over quite a bit, and I did put on weight that I could have avoided. Then the IVF happened and over a course of 2.5 years I put on 18 kgs. And my self confidence dropped exponentially. I felt ugly in everything I wore, and everything I didn’t. I went to the gym and struggled to lose even a few kgs without starving myself. I emotional eat – I can’t help it. It’s a vicious cycle – you get emotional because you feel unloved and insecure and you eat because you are emotional and put on more weight that contributes to your insecurities.

I’ve had people tell me very vocally that I am fat – and they are supposed to be my friends and family. They are apparently doing so in a misguided attempt to shame me in to fixing this and getting back in shape. But after a lifetime of criticism, I am no good at dealing with negative feedback. I block it out, or worse I rebel. I wish more people understood that support is much better than shame. But that’s the world we live in I guess. To those folks who think telling me I’m fat is going to make me lose weight I ask, “what are you going to do to support me”? It’s easy to tell people to be a certain way, it’s much harder to invest in their well being. If you are my friend, you will invest in me, just as I invest in you. Otherwise, I have no space for negativity in my life anymore.

All around me I see glowing examples of women who are so comfortable in their own skin. They don’t care if they are thin or fat or dark – they slay either way. I wish I could be more like them. I wish I didn’t spend hours agonizing over which dress to wear and what would hide my curves the best. I wish I was confident enough to step out without makeup and to hell with the flawed skin. But I’m not – and it’s a handicap I deal with every day. I cancel my plans because I just don’t feel good enough to be seen in public. I refuse intimacy because I worry that what people see might put them off. I rarely like pictures of me. In a word I’m a MESS.

I don’t want to pass of my laziness as an excuse for body positivity. I WANT to be healthy and I do what I can for it. But at the same time, I want to be comfortable in my skin – whatever shape it is in. It’s a battle I fight every day and rarely, very rarely, in moments of defiance I win. I’ve come to accept my skin tone, I like being brown and I’m comfortable with it now. I am yet to come to terms with my weight – and the wrinkles that are starting to show, and the hair that is greying steadily. And it takes an immense amount of will to defy the shamers and say I am ok as I am. But inside I cringe and cry and wonder when will I be an acceptable size again.

As I write this I resolve again – I am through with this now. I will never let anyone may me feel low for not looking a certain way. If I’m fat, I’m still going to be fabulous.

Maybe this valentine’s day I’ll gift myself some self love.


I’m sure we’ve all got stories of being body shamed. Tell your story and share the load. 

 

2 thoughts on “Body Positive?

  1. This might be a blog in itself but bear with me.

    Girl, you are beautiful inside out, people who tell you otherwise are a bunch of idiots. We have one life, let’s all try to give an upright finger to people who try to tell us how to look, act or dress. What matters is who you are as a person – and you are beautiful and strong and fierce and confident. You have said ‘fuck you’ to the world when you were trying to have Adi, so this is no different. Just don’t listen to what people say or what the media tries to tell you.

    Unfortunately, the human race is obsessed with looks. It is everywhere, not just in India – though the idea of ‘you are beautiful only if you are fair’ is much more. I was often teased when I was growing up ‘Kaali kalooti, baingan looti’ – I don’t even know how that makes sense but I did feel bad. I was teased as I had a lot of facial hair – ‘Muchchad’ and ‘unibrow’ are choice words I remember. As you said, my mom told me to dress a certain way and I think most moms do – its the only way they know.

    But it took one person to change my perspective and gain confidence slowly. My English teacher told me in the 9th grade – that my skin tone doesn’t matter, what matters is what I do with my life, how I treat people and what I can achieve. Those were simple words but they had a tremendous impact. I stopped caring. At least about my skin tone and my weight (I was really skinny too). I was still underconfident about my dressing style and grooming – which is natural because of the shit media sells us.

    But slowly, it changed. I told myself its futile to spend tonnes of money on clothes/makeup, its a strain on the environment anyways – I’d rather spend it on books. It is now reached a point where I question things like ‘Why should women shave or wax their arms and legs when men don’t?’, ‘Why should women dress sexily when men can just wear what they want?’ – the more I think about these questions, the more I believe its the society to blame. So till women say otherwise and stop conforming to societal norms, things are not going to change. So now I go more than a month between waxes, eyebrows, and upperlip and I do it only when I want to and buy new clothes only once in a year. I have greyed considerably and my mom keeps telling me to put henna but I do it only when I want to.

    Long story short – it takes time but you have to keep telling yourself that it is not worth it to listen to people. People have to accept you the way you are or they shouldn’t be in your life (not always possible) or you shouldn’t care about what they say.

    On that note, happy valentines day. Loads of love and hugs. Remember, we are beautiful. Inside and out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True we’ve all been victims of this mind set in some way or the other. Getting to a point where you can reject a lifetime of indoctrination is a big achievement indeed. Hopefully I’ll follow u there soon 🙂

      Like

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