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Being fit to meet your health goals is great. Denying yourself the chocolate to meet an arbitrary size goal? Not so much!
New year comes with new resolutions and the most common resolution is the one that involves “getting a killer figure” and pinning the likeness of Angelina, Deepika or Priyanka on one’s closet doors.
Let me start by declaring that according to my weight, my height should be around 6′ but I am not 6′ tall; I am a normal 5′ 3″ and I have spent most of my adult life wishing I was taller or more importantly, slimmer. I have also spent most of my teenage life dreaming of a 6′ partner, but that’s another story for another day!
This is about me and how since globalisation, I woke up every single day feeling fat (which by the way I am; there’s no denial here.)
Can I blame my body image on globalisation? Maybe I can, or maybe I should blame it on Bollywood or on every single issue of Cosmopolitan. But I choose to blame it on a sedentary lifestyle, my genes, hypothyroidism, PCOS etc. I have my excuses ready.
But my acceptance and my excuses do not let Bollywood go scott-free. Now I am going to use some names. I recently got a forwarded meme of Sonakshi Sinha getting out of water, with the tag “Gayi Bhains Paani Mein”* I laughed a lot (hypocrisy, I know). When she debuted, I had said, “Wow, what great personality”. I still admire her for the way she carries herself; she is fun, down to earth on every show she appears in and I am in awe of the way she is rocking short hair when earlier I believed that most of her beauty came from her long tresses. Slowly, however, she started getting ridiculed for her weight. Ditto Vidya Balan. Both fine actors with great screen presence.
Somehow I feel Hollywood is more forgiving than Bollywood when it comes to weight; of course Caucasians have a different genetic make-up so most of them have toned bodies – visualise Cameron Diaz, Madonna at 50, the whole SATC gang but Kate Winslet, Renee Zellweger, Queen Latifa are all praised for their talents.
I completely admire Chandra Wilson and Sara Ramirez from Grey’s Anatomy – their personalities are so powerful that one does not notice their weight. I wonder when Bollywood will be that open minded. And then there’s the other side of the story – another forwarded meme ridiculed Sonam Kapoor for her stick figure!
What amazes me is the section of society that dictates the very narrow range of body measurements into which every celebrity should fit and by extension every woman is forced into. And so we struggle, go on crash diets, do yoga, gym, spin classes, zumba, mumba or whatever the latest fad is.
There’s also the sexist attitude of society, that men are not subjected to the same stringent standards as women. So we kept liking the cute and adorable R. Madhavan and we still do.
I remember when an overweight male relative asked me at my sister’s wedding what my plans were to reduce weight! My response was, “The same as yours.” This, when I was in a healthy BMI range and he definitely had a pot belly, which he somehow felt a tight T-shirt would hide!
Then there was this other older relative who very sweetly told me to lose weight if I wanted to get married; My response? Your son is overweight too! He replied, “Ladkon ka chaltaa hai” (It’s ok for boys). I am out of emoticons for my response.
I do understand that people who care will only say such things for your own good. But please convince me this way:
Fitness is a drug and I discovered this a few years back when I joined an awesome gym and became addicted to running. Back then, I ran 7 km on a treadmill every alternate day without my lungs giving out. On other days I swam about 25 laps of a 50m pool. And with all the right happy hormones (endorphins I guess), I was a happy person. I never threw tantrums, didn’t get depressed if I had to pick the L-sized clothing in a mall for certain brands when M didn’t fit. Because I had a positive body image.
And then life happened – so I gave up! Now I just go on long runs some days of the month and hope the calories will adjust with all the sweets I eat on other days (they never do!). Slowly my height criteria increased – I needed to get a bit more taller for my weight and buying high heels wasn’t helping either.
…we are humans, not robots and on some days, something else is going to take priority over being totally dedicated to your body and on such days you have to realise that the extra kilos are not the only thing that defines you.
But that’s perfectly normal – we are humans, not robots and on some days, something else is going to take priority over being totally dedicated to your body and on such days you have to realise that the extra kilos are not the only thing that defines you. It is important to be fit (not slim), but there are other things that are a better definition of you – your talents, your relationships, your hobbies.
I have struggled for a decade to come to peace with myself, to strut into a room full of people without being conscious of my weight, to believe that my personality is what defines me and not my weight.
I do come across the people I mentioned earlier who feel its okay to make fun of my weight and I let them do that without being offended; hell, I sometimes joke with them about me, my favourite being, “I am very slim below my knees” (I know I have killer calf muscles, thanks to long distance running). But when such people go overboard, I can point blank tell them, “Let’s run and see who stops first. The day you beat me at that, you can make fun of me. Till then, shut the f*** up”, because my observation is that fit people don’t judge you. Such jokes are generally made by slim people who remain slim by denying themselves the pleasures of life and then take that frustration out on you!
The bottomline? It is important to be fit, but you don’t need to torture yourself to look like a runaway model. Let’s face it, many of them are anorexic. It is also more important to value the people in your life and see people for their talents, not their weight. No one ever notices how much Sushma Swaraj weighs, because what matters is how much her words weigh!
Finally, here’s a conversation I had with my husband recently,
Me: Have I like become too fat?
Him: No, you’re like you were before the baby.
Me: Will you love me if I become too fat?
Him: Yes, obviously (He’s lying, I know)
Me: No, idiot! You will let me know I am letting myself go and that I should do something about it!
Him: Oh, that’s allowed, is it?
Me: Of course, if not you who will tell me?
Him: Okay! (Winking and taking away the chocolate bar from my hand)
This new year lets resolve to go easy on ourselves, enjoy the little pleasures of life, keep our sense of humour intact and target fitness for ourselves without aping anyone else.
*literally, ‘the buffalo is in the water’ although the idiomatic sense is of ‘good luck getting that now!’
woman eating chocolate pic via Shutterstock
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