Ugh! I hate, hate, HATEEEE preachy posts. Every morning the internet shoves down my throat empowering ideas about being different and being comfortable in your own skin. I find this amusing at times and preposterous at others. Why, you ask?
A) Because ‘the internet’ is just people like me earning their bread, butter, and marmalade writing about things that others want to read.
B) Because generic articles do nothing for those who are really going through stuff like body image issues and are fat/skinny shamed on the regz.
Weirdly, I’ve been through both. I grew up skinny. Malnourished, some would say. I was the kid that Sindhi aunties would call out for looking ‘beemar’ owing to my bony frame. They weren’t far from the truth – I was a sickly child. I had severe colic as an infant and allergic bronchitis in the following years. My immunity sucked balls!
I learnt very early in life not to take people and what they say, too seriously.
As I grew older, some of my health issues took care of them self. Just as doctors had hoped, my breathing issues got sorted with age. I felt better and started to put on weight. Yeah, no prizes for guessing that I was properly fat shamed now.
I went to college, a medium sized girl with a dusky complexion and I suddenly realized that fat shaming was only one minuscule part of the ordeal. Suddenly I was shamed for many more things – example, my crooked teeth. No, it wasn’t the first time in my life that I had realized that they weren’t straight. Of course I already knew that. It was just the first time that I was made to feel awful about it.
I remember being a young child and considering getting braces. But when you grow up in a middle class home, and have some semblance of a conscience – even your tiny, underdeveloped brain knows that it’s an unnecessary expense. Besides, all the girls who did get braces when I was in school started to talk in a slightly weird way and that scared the crap out of me. So here I was; a wide toothy grin away from being called out for having funny teeth. And here I still am.
I’m also very hairy; like a lot of Sindhis are. This means I have a beautiful head of hair (thank you God) but it doesn’t stop there. Yup, throw in bushy brows and a moustache and throw out that self confidence, already. Growing up, I hated the thought of spending hours at the parlour. So I did the bare minimum required tasks there (basically just waxing). In retrospect, no wonder Kajol was my favourite actress. Her unibrow gave me hope.
After many, *many* years of sporting a look that I can now only describe as ‘unkempt’ I reluctantly did my eyebrows. A boon and a bane because I may look more feminine but it comes at a cost ladies – I know you know what I’m talking about!
I wish this is all that I have to say about body shaming and my tryst with it, but unfortunately there’s more…
A few years back, I had TB. There was a litre (yes, one whole litre) of water collected in my left lung. I had to be hospitalized. I missed 6 months of work and had to rebuild my strength completely. These weren’t pleasant times, really. At first I lost a lot of weight. Yes yes, I looked chiselled. It felt nice that my clothes fit well and I didn’t have to suck in my stomach for pictures. But the happy feeling was short lived. I knew I was crumbling from inside. I was at my least healthy at this point. The compliments for my new found body were pouring in, and they meant nothing.
Once again, I learnt – not to take people too seriously.
Then the meds started kicking in and I gained weight. A lot of it. I’m told it’s natural with that medication, but ‘people were concerned’. I started searching with all my might for flying fucks to give. Happy to report I didn’t find any. Phew!
It’s been a while since then; my weight kind of fluctuates. My teeth are my biggest distinction. And my unibrow makes a cameo appearance from time to time. And you know what? I’m okay with that.
When I started Real Girl, I made a promise to myself to practice what I preach. I believe in the beauty of diversity. I treasure real over perfect. And I propagate a healthy body image. I hate labels and wanted the internet to have a place where you are not slotted into one. That was the intention and purpose of starting Real Girl. It stirred my soul and it had to be done.
All bodies are beautiful. And ‘Big’ is not ‘Wrong’. If Ashley Graham has led the way, you Goddamn know I’ll follow it. I’m blessed to be a little more Amy Schumer, Lena Dunham and Mindy Kaling than anyone else I know. My opinions outweigh my body and that’s something you can’t take lightly – if you know what I mean. 😉
I’m a big girl in every way. I can handle the haters. I can handle the comments. I’m large enough to handle all the small minds I encounter. I love big and I live big. And each time you try to drown me, remember that I have way too much adipose and that will help me float. Always, always.
(The Cheesecake Project is the brainchild of the very beautiful and real Stuti Sakhalkar who also endorses real over perfect. She is one of India’s top wedding photographers and she shatters stereotypes faster than you can even say cheese. You can follow her work here and here. And enquire for bookings here: email@example.com)
Hair and Makeup: Minelli Coelho (firstname.lastname@example.org)
[This is hopefully the first of many posts in a series addressing body shaming and other unnecessary evils that plague our daily lives. If you relate to this, let me know in the comments below. If you or someone you know have been subjected to the pressure of unrealistic beauty standards, then let’s get in touch and talk about it. I hope to make a lot more content along these lines and would love to get your inputs. Let’s keep it real together, shall we?]