I’ve always struggled with my weight. It’s probably one of the earliest memories that I have. Everyone that saw me always had quite a bit to say.
Quite a lot really.
And it has never stopped.
Not even now.
I was born underweight. It wasn’t a huge deal to my parents as this is sort of common in my family. Growing up, I never really put on much weight. I was an underweight kid. Skinny and small – these are the perfect adjectives to describe my younger self.
Somehow these adjectives followed me till I grew up. It’s these words that still describe me till date.
Yeah, you guessed it. This is a rant about being skinny – shamed.
So yup. I’m excessively thin. I’m not the dictionary definition of “skinny” but that’s the tag I have gotten by everyone. Who knows, maybe I am skinny but my tendency to take words literally is what makes me not believe it.
I, on a regular hear comments about my weight. I hear things like,
“Be careful the wind is strong! You’ll fly away!”
“You buy your clothes from the children’s section right?”
“Do you not eat?”
“You might even fit in my pocket”
“You can be folded”
“How are you even standing?”
“Anyone can just pick you up”
What doesn’t help my case is the fact that I’m short. Short and skinny, can you even imagine what I hear everyday?
No you can’t
Because you probably say it too
Two weeks back, I had some relatives over for dinner. These are the kind of relatives that I love.
As I was staring at my wardrobe (this is how I select clothes. I just stare at them 💁) this one kurti spoke to me. I took it out and first thing that came to my mind was, “This kurti doesn’t make you look too thin. Wear it and you’ll escape the “you’ve lost so much weight” comments that are coming your way”
And I did.
I wore that kurti.
Because I didn’t want to hear those comments.
And that’s when it clicked me.
This is what I have become now.
If you were to see me when I was seven years old, you’d always find me in overalls. I loved them so much, I had around five kinds of overalls. All different from each other.
This aunty once told my mom, “She looks more thin in overalls. She looks like a stick. Frocks are better at least.”
I never wore overalls after that.
Which kid is supposed to think about their body and not just wear what she wants?
Is it right for a 7 year old to be subjected to that kind of cruelty?
I looked at myself in the full length mirror in my parents’ bedroom and said to myself, “I really do look like a stick. No wonder I hear such bad stuff. I look bad”
And that’s when I started getting super insecure about my body.
Each and every comment made about me by family members and friends’ parents were audible now. I heard everything but never reacted to them as my parents also always seemed to agree with them. It just broke me because I started to believe that I looked horrible. I started believing every word that everyone around me said.
The girl who loved wearing knee length skirts one day just stopped wearing them because she heard a comment saying she had, “chicken legs” once. She doesn’t even remember who told it, but that sentence haunted her for the rest of her life.
Tell me, is that really normal?
When I was around 15 years old, I decided to stop feeling this bad about myself and try and turn things around. That it was time I stopped feeling ugly and owned how I looked completely.
I need to feel good about myself because I should.
None of this is my fault. I shouldn’t punish myself.
I did just that. It took me years to finally feel good about myself. To feel comfortable in my own skin. To actually be okay with how I was.
I put the whole world on mute.
But somehow now, everyone isn’t on mute anymore.
The past two – three years or so have been incredibly tough on my body. I’ve been losing a lot of weight. I personally don’t mind it because I know why it is happening, but somehow everyone around me has something to say and it has started pricking me.
Because this time, it’s worse.
What I hear today, are jokes. Actual jokes made in front of other people.
And these hurt.
Somehow my identity today is that I’m super thin and can “fly away at any given time”. Anything that I do or say in life doesn’t really matter anymore. It doesn’t contribute to my identity.
This one, physical attribute of mine, upon which I have no control over, is what I will forever be known as.
And you know what? That’s wrong.
Because these “jokes” have brought my insecurities back.
And that, isn’t fair.
How dare you joke about me?
When did I tell you that it’s okay?
Who told you that you’re allowed to make me feel insecure about my own self?
Who gave you permission to make me feel ugly?
Who asked you for your “advice”?
Why can’t you understand that you need to stop when I tell you to?
Why do you feel it’s okay to comment about my body?
There is a limit to everything. Sure, the comments that my close friends tell me don’t affect me one bit. On the contrary I laugh with them. Not a word they say on this topic affect me or my self esteem in any way.
Because they don’t say anything that hurts me. They, are in there limits.
But not everyone is. You can’t joke about how you will just pack me in a suitcase or how I shouldn’t really pay for a seat because a person’s lap is enough for me.
That my friend, is where you cross all the limits.
And I don’t think you should be told all of this.
This is something that should come from within you.
If today, I have gone back to selecting clothes that make me look less thin as I go in front of the people that I love and care about, it’s your jokes to blame.
You have scarred me to such an extent that the little girl who was horrified of her body is back.
The one I took so many years to get rid off, is back.
And it’s your fault.
Today when I look at myself in the mirror, all I can think about are the jokes you crack as I look at my body.
And I, have had enough.
I have felt helpless and ugly all my life. It took a lot of effort for me to be comfortable in my own skin.
I can’t let my efforts go to waste.
I can’t let you and your jokes win.
I can’t let that little girl come back again.
You, aren’t allowed to break me anymore.
You, aren’t allowed to make me feel ugly anymore.
The next time you crack a God – awful joke about someone’s body, think about how it could affect them.
It doesn’t matter if they are fat or thin, there are lines which you shouldn’t cross.
Because you never know which joke of yours could lead to someone feeling disgusted about themselves.
I know plenty of others, my own friends, who have been subjected to this kind of stuff. I know how low they have felt about themselves too.
And it isn’t right.
No one should feel like they are ugly.
No one should feel that their self worth depends upon how their body is.
So choose your words wisely, because you don’t know what the other person is going through.
You don’t know their struggles.
Your words, your jokes, can break someone.
You don’t know how the sentences you let out of your mouth can shatter even the strongest of people.
Because this is a sensitive topic.
And it’s time, you find a topic that is genuinely funny.
Let’s not make people insecure about themselves.
Can we just agree on this?