…in the eyes of the beholder. Then why is it that we judge ourselves by the impossible standards set by the beauty industry all the time? How many of us have been told we’re too fat, too thin, too dark? How many of us have been shamed for wanting that one extra dollop of butter or that extra paratha? How many of us have been asked, “Where do you buy your groceries?” in an attempt to shame us for being us. I have. And I’m sure that at some point, you have too. This should have been a tweetstorm, inspired by this thread by Naomi Barton. But, I somehow felt this deserved a more detailed and larger discussion in the form of a blogpost. So, I am going to take the opportunity to answer some of her questions concerning body image.
1) How old were you when you realised your body was not good enough?
Maybe 8 or 9. Every time my cousin told me that I could be beautiful if only I scrubbed more and became whiter, every time someone called me gundoos or fatty. Every single time. Maybe, just maybe my body wasn’t good enough.
2) What’s the one thing about your body you’ve been wanting to change forever?
Unwanted body hair and height. I wished forever that I could be one of those beautiful women who’d just need to wash their faces and be ready. I wished I didn’t have to subject myself to the torture of having eyebrows tweezed and legs waxed each month. I still sometimes, but can live with it. The second was my height. I wished I weren’t so tall. Being mistaken for a 20-year old when you’re barely 12 isn’t fun.
3) What item of clothing are you forbidden from wearing Cuz ‘it doesn’t suit your body type’?
Anything tight I suppose. I used to shy away from wearing fitted clothes because I always felt I was too fat to carry it off well. Anyway, that’s history now and I’m happier for it.
4) What is the weirdest, most demented thought you’ve had about your body on a Fat Day?
I don’t think I’ve had such thoughts, except for an all-encompassing sadness about being too fat.
5) If you had a girl child and she came to you with that thought, what would you want to tell her?
I’d tell her she’s beautiful. Every single person on the face of this earth is beautiful in their own way. I’d tell her there’s no ideal of beauty, no matter what fairness cream commercials tell you. She needs to believe it. And believe it way sooner that I did.
6) As fucked up as it is, what are the things, on the fat days, that you tell yourself about why you are worthwhile to exist? Your mantra?
This too shall pass. Every time.
7) What do you want to see in the bodies billboards and hoardings and magazines and music videos, to make them look like yours?
I want to see fat bodies, thin ones, dark ones, the ones with stretch marks and cellulite. Every type of body. Every single type.
8) How many of you have stretch marks?
Am I even human if I don’t? I do. Because I’ve gained weight and I’ve lost it. I’ve been through changes, biological and emotional. I’ve binged, I’ve starved. I have stretch marks and happy for it because they tell me I’ve lived.
9) If you have to choices – one where you have the perfect body, and one where you no longer had to give a fuck, which would you pick?
Do you have to ask? The latter. What I wouldn’t give to be able to not give a fuck! I’m trying. I’m getting there. Slowly.
10) Do you think you are beautiful? Why?
I’m beautiful because I’ve lived. So have you. Each one of us is here after having fought our own battles. And that’s what makes us beautiful. I’m also beautiful because I’m happy. For myself and for those who care for me.