It was a few years ago when my second baby was just a few months old and I was almost always ravenous. As a hirsute child who was constantly body shamed for being so, I was already dealing with severe inferiority complex that I hardly ever let show. While I’d begun waxing my visible body parts, at this time, I was mostly short of time and also gaining weight for two reasons- one, I was feeding my kid and always hungry, and two, I was facing an emotional breakdown on the personal front and dealt with it by eating indiscriminately, especially huge amounts of chocolate. It was at this time that a retired colleague, on her visit to office, asked my friend if I was pregnant yet again. Even with all the troubles I was dealing with, I found this very wrong for many reasons. For one, she was referring to my body and the extra fat I’d put on in the waist and tummy, as if being thin and curvy was the only acceptable body on someone. Secondly, she associated my body shape to being ‘pregnant yet again’, and made it sound distasteful, implying that gaining weight was only for the pregnant.
Body shaming can only be understood through an intensive historical analysis (not going into that now though). If we look at it on a general plane, we’ll probably find domination and roleplays (assigned and accepted) on the forefront. Over centuries, we’ve developed an idea of accepted physical appearance, both culturally and otherwise, which subjects us not just to body-shaming on a regular basis, but also compels us to maintain that ideal figure just for the sake of others. We worry too much even about a little extra fat on the waist, or a little body hair in our arms. And many times, we confuse this with healthy living, not realizing that we may be in fact abusing both of body and mind. The key is to maintain ourselves without exerting any more pressure than necessary to the extend that we are indeed happy.
While the main victims of this phenomenon are women, no one is truly exempted. By and large, the parents and immediate relatives are the main perpetrators of this ‘unorganized crime’. In my own country, after the daughter reaches a certain age, she is paraded in weddings and functions, dressed up modestly and introduced in a casual and noncommittal way. For this same reason, I’ve seen such girls laughing or complaining about how their mothers restrict their food intake to maintain their ‘figure’. Over the course of life, these kids feel that they need to keep the compliments coming in throughout their life, even at the cost of their personal comfort. Which often forces people to take extreme diets rather than eat healthy and happy, and workout to support the system.
Don’t we have celebrities who have been body-shamed? Vin Diesel, Vidya Balan, Selena Gomez, Celine Dion, Leonardo Di Caprio….the list goes on. No one is spared. We have concerned family, relatives and fans worried about the too little or extra fat in us, when more often than not, they’re nothing more than empty vessels making noise. It’s high time we begin looking into ourselves, and not into others for more than what is required. The body may be the evidence of life, but the mind is the evidence of actual living!