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Our society is obsessed with size. Real change will come only when we stop body shaming people for something that might be out of their control.
This month, we invited you, our readers, to participate in the writing contest sponsored by KAARYAH. You had to write a story either fiction/real, in response to the cue: “Beautiful in every size”.
Here is the first winning entry, by Gowri N Kishore. Gowri wins a gift voucher from KAARYAH worth Rs 2500. KAARYAH offers wardrobe solutions for all body types.
As a teenager, when I used to ride around town as my mom’s pillion rider, I would observe other women. Women walking around with shopping bags filled with groceries, haggling over the prices quoted by roadside sellers, shepherding over-excited kids out of the traffic, and climbing onto scooters and bikes… I would take in every detail, from their mismatched tops and bottoms to flashy footwear, and the number of fatty folds on their stomachs.
I would put my arm around my slim, attractive mom and say, “These women have really let themselves go! I’m glad you’re not like them…” And in my head, I would tell myself that I would never become like them, these poor women who had become old before their time, who looked fat and tired next to their still-handsome husbands.
From the books and magazines I’d read and the movies I’d watched, I knew what a beautiful figure looked like. In my head, I had this image of a slim, smartly-dressed young woman striding into a meeting room, getting admiring glances from everyone. That is who I wanted to be.
Sometime during the years that followed, the sharp edge of my criticism became dulled by the realization that not everyone puts on weight because they overeat or give up exercise. Some have medical issues. Others have borne children. Yet others are just the way they are, however much they push themselves to diet or work out.
But I? I have none of these reasons. I am not yet 30, have not been pregnant, have no medical conditions… yet I am today just like those women I once despised. My figure has lost its slimness. My face has become round, almost like an apple. I have to pick out clothes that don’t cling. And I have learned to joke about sucking in my tummy when I undress in front of my husband.
“You are beautiful!” he tells me when I obsess over my waistline.
“But don’t you think I’m heavier than when we first met?”
“Just a wee bit… but I like you this way!” he says loyally.
Somehow, that doesn’t comfort me.
When I walk around malls or along the street, I continue to notice other women. But this time, I notice only slim shoulders and lean, willowy figures. I am acutely aware of judgmental glances in my direction, all the more perhaps because I was once one of them.
This obsession with size has become ingrained in our thinking. We, all of us, judge everyone else almost instantly on their appearance, consciously or unconsciously. I myself am both a victim and a perpetrator. Nobody told me “Size doesn’t matter!” when I was younger; they only complimented my figure. Nobody is telling me “Size doesn’t matter!” today; they merely advise me to start working out, before…
Every day, we come across articles that talk about body shaming and the liberation of women from the shackles of their body images. We Like and share these articles online, and debate them in our friend circles. But the real change will begin only when we stop casting envious glances at the slim figures of others, obsessing over weight reduction workouts and new diets, or googling the cost of liposuction in incognito mode.
One day very soon, we will wake up, get dressed, look at ourselves in the mirror and say happily, “I look good today!”
The real change will begin then.
Women’s Web and KAARYAH congratulate Gowri N Kishore on her win!
Image source: tummy folds by Shutterstock.
Writer. Editor. Content strategist. Lover of Bangalore, books, travel, the husband, and the dogs.
Very well written Gowri. We all have been through these cycles and I feel body shaming includes more than just size. As a teenager, I used think of my looks and how I wasn’t beautiful. How I could have gone under a knife but I didn’t and I am glad I am, who I am. My looks are my identity.
How I am over 30, not pregnant and 4 day a week yoga practitioner but still can’t lose weight. But that’s who I am and I feel as long as men and women love themselves and their appearances, body shaming will lose ground.
Congrats for the winning entry! You deserve this! 🙂
There is a wonderful book by Naomi Woolf called THE The Beauty Myth, which was banned in many countries including India because it dissected how an overwhelming beauty and fashion industry works at making women be critical and ashamed of their bodies and of the bodies of other women, leading to more and more costumers for new apparel,cosmetics, therapies and more. Your post reminded me of that Gowri. Very well expressed, every body is bound to change and youth is bound to fade, while being fit and happy is one thing setting unrealistic body goals is a mind game that we must avoid.Congrats !
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