I chose this topic a long time back, when I came across a social media post by Bollywood actor Vidya Balan. She had talked about how she had been a victim of vicious comments about her weight and how it had affected her initially. After a point, when she learned to accept and love her body as is, she also learned to get over all the public scrutiny and pretty much told the commentators to go to hell… This topic has been sitting in my drafts folder for over six months now… I have been looking at it every week, reading the notes I had written, adding points, and closing it to write something else. To be honest, I wouldn’t have written it today also, if I had an alternate topic. Anyway… I believe it’s an important topic to discuss, so here goes.
I don’t know about you, but I feel that we all have one or two songs that we connect to, songs that speak to our soul. For the longest time, mine was (and still is) I am just a girl by ABBA. I felt as though the following lines were written just for me.
“I am just a girl
One among the others
Nothing much to say
Plain and simple girl
Not the special type in any way”
It was probably because of my negative body image. You see, I have been what people call a ‘big girl’ all my life, from a chubby toddler to a plump teenager, to fat, to overweight, and obese, I have been through it all. As a child, my parents used to find it difficult to find the right-sized clothes for my age. I needed bigger sizes and by the time circumference fit, I would be swallowed by the excess length. On a lighter note, though, some of my relatives and I were members of a ‘gundus (fat) club’ for some time. The group dissolved when the members started losing weight :-). After going through years of ridiculing from kids at school, I finally reached college where I thought it would stop… but it did not. But now when I look back at the people who used to make fun of me, I realize that being overweight or dark or too skinny just made us easy targets.
Until a few years ago, I was not even familiar with the term body shaming; technically I have been body shamed all my life. Today, I am old enough and wise enough to understand that weight, dress sizes, bulges, and curves all make up a person, it makes me who I am. As long as a person is healthy, nothing else really matters. This does not mean that I will not work hard to stay healthy, it only means that I no longer dwell upon these numbers too seriously. People who have seen my transformation know that I have come a long way from my peak and I know that I have a few more miles to go to reach my goal… and I will get there eventually… at my pace.
That’s just my experience, and it hasn’t been half as bad as what many others may have experienced. And that is mainly because the people around me have always been supportive and have never made fun of my size (there’s a difference between light hearted banter where I am also involved). There was a time when I used to worry about my weight, and I am sure my loved ones did too, but today they all are very supportive of my weight loss journey and like always, encourage me to keep at it. I am lucky that way… unlike others who may not have received such support. It is sad to hear stories of people, especially girls, taking extreme measures, unable to bear the tortures of society. And of course, we have social media, movies, and such to blame too, for promoting body sizes that most normal women find hard to achieve and maintain. I am glad that that perception is slowly changing and we have started seeing more plus size models, actresses who aren’t afraid to put on weight for a role, and even stay that way in their everyday lives. I sincerely hope the trend remains, because it will help young girls and boys understand the importance of having a positive body image without worrying about being ridiculed by society.
There was a time when I used to wonder why I was always the cute and chubby one while the thin girls were the pretty, gorgeous ones. Today, don’t care. I am no longer the girl who felt dejected by the mean comments that people passed about the way I looked; I have moved on in life but the song that speaks to my soul hasn’t changed… only the lines have changed. For the past few years, these are my lines,
“It’s a funny feeling when you get to love someone
And thinking that he’ll never look your way
But then he say he loves you
And life has just begun
It’s so much more than any words can say
I am just a girl
Not the kind of woman men would like to meet
Just another girl
No one ever looks at in the street
But today I can’t believe it’s true
When you smiled and whispered ‘I love you’
Darling I could see I was meant to be your girl”
Until I write again, love yourself, love the people around you, and stay healthy and positive!