Over the years, a person learns to shrug off a painful past. Not just because the past is too daunting to bear, but because one has to secure their future. The only way that I could refrain feeling guilty from the filth of his touch was to forget that something like that ever occurred; only to be reminded of it, every time I get intimate. However, it never was the only background contributing to my body insecurities and low self-esteem.
As a child, I was so thin that my parents were worried out of their wits, the reverse happened after primary schooling. Yes, I have always been chubby. That brought a lot of “awww so cute” remarks but gradually grew up to sly remarks which I couldn’t decipher initially. On the onset of adolescence, the shaming grew off bounds. It would be wrong to say that only strangers could be this mean to someone.
Friends and relatives have always been my biggest critics, self-assumed of course.Never realizing, that to this day, I remember each and every remark, unsolicited advice and jibes made at my looks and weight.
Though, I was fairly chubby, I wouldn’t call myself overweight. It was only after my 10th that we had to move to a city I couldn’t fit in. That and being away from everything familiar made me take solace in food. Without realizing, I had developed an eating disorder. Yes, it grew out of bounds and so did my meltdowns.
I remember sitting on the floor in the trial room and crying out because the mirrors were a harsh reminder of a body that didn’t favour me. The store managers weren’t at their best too, because apparently it’s okay to tell an overweight person to look at the gent’s section and laugh. I remember being told in ‘good humour’ that it isn’t the best idea to done a sleeveless frock or a thigh length skirt because the view, not so good. I remember how my relatives would mock me to the extent that I still detest meeting them.
Constant comparisons with the better looking cousins or treating me in lower light, comments on my eating habits, dressing habits or personality was non-stop.
My younger cousin once clicked my photo when I was fast asleep and circulated it with unfavourable comments targeted on my weight. Or that one time, when I was changing my clothes and my friend ‘jokingly’ asked if I was a size 40! Or that one time, when my friend made funny remarks of how my sexual relationship would be because a guy would tumble under my weight. Or that one time, when I cooked for my cousin and he said that he better refrain from eating that lest he became fat like me. On inquiring why he said so, he replied that his mother had warned him about becoming like me.
One fine day, I decided enough was enough, I was in 12th and I purchased a jogging shoe and track pants, set an alarm for 6 am and set out for a walk. The burning stares and the giggles, I tried to ignore them alone. Aunties would come and say, “chalne se tumhara kya hoga”, followed by a round of laughter. I kept going on till the gaze and taunts intensified till I gave up, heartbroken.
Thankfully, after coming to my hostel I realized that if I let every person have a say in my life, I could never really work on myself. I gave up junk food and started working out regularly and lost enough weight to come in the “normal” BMI zone.
Not that people would spare you after you get fit!
“Ye sab kiske liye kar rahi ho?” Because having fitness goals is a crime.
“You were better before” because now we have no one to mock!
“Did you have a surgery?” because people are blind to other’s determination and hard work.
“Look at her, patli ho gayi toh chote kapde pehen rahi hai.” Not that you are allowed to have a say in someone’s personal choices, but look into your hindsight and remember the times you mocked me for dressing in a certain way when I was overweight.
That’s the thing about people; they have nothing good in store for you.
The best thing I did for myself, was to work on myself and have clearly defined goals when every tom, dick and harry was demotivating me. Not one of the thousands of remarks made on me have I forgotten. I am scarred by the myriad of words thrown on my weight and looks over the years; when they can’t fat shame you, they fitness shame you or maybe point your left out cellulite and muffin top!
The only good that came from years of this ordeal, is that I never, never comment on someone’s body structure and that an important criteria on which I judge people is the way they look down on different body shapes and structures. If you comment on how a person of a certain body type is wearing a certain dress and how that is silly, I am sorry to have clearly and correctly labelled you as superficial.
It is never easy to dismiss what years of shaming and abuse can do to a person and to reclaim my body from myself seems as a herculean task that I might never muster enough courage to accomplish. The apprehensions on getting intimate, the insecurities about my own body may not get washed away in a day or two. But, the one thing that I can do is force myself to get up, wear that little black dress I have always had an eye on but not dare put it on or kiss the man I love without letting any trace of guilt tag along.
This New Year, my resolution is to not let anyone, but me, have a say on my body, my choices and my lifestyle. This New Year, I vow to reclaim my body from myself.