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If you think skinny girls aren’t shamed at all, let me tell you that we bear the brunt of a number of jokes that affect us more than you’d imagine!
I have often heard people exclaiming ‘Skinny girls are so fortunate,’ ‘They don’t have to go through any shaming.’ Well, sadly, it is a misconception. Shamers will shame anyone and everyone who does not fall in the ambit of conventionality when it comes to the set beauty standards.
Being an underweight adolescent, I was often told that that my legs resemble a thin piece of wood (kaise lakdi jaise pair hain) Once, I remember I was told by a teacher that I was too thin to be taken seriously as a captain in my school. I would eat but would get disappointed because of no outcome.
My mother would always be blamed for my body type. You must be wondering what was there to blame. Actually, those who made remarks were concerned about my ‘health’ more than anything else. And why my mother was being said all that? Well, that is how Indian parenting and especially patriarchy works. Parents, especially mothers, are held responsible for every aspect of their child, even if that child is a full grown adult.
I grew up facing shame for being bony and flat-chested. There were casual remarks and serious overtones about it. My peers would say things like ‘tere to nimbu jaise hain’ (your breasts are like lemons) or ‘bechari isko kuch khane ko de do’ (poor girl, give her something to eat)
Then there were the serious one from relatives. One of my aunts went to the extent of telling me I wasn’t desirable enough and that there was something wrong with me. I endured all these unsolicited remarks for a very long time, which was going to affect me later.
But something that affects you the most is being shamed by your partners. When someone who is the closest to you, shames you in implicit or explicit manner it hurts the most. It is mostly implied under the garb of concern for your partner’s health. I still remember being shamed by one of my partners for being thin. He would hide our relationship for this reason and would constantly nag me and ask me to exercise.
Despite being aware I was body shamed, I grew increasingly conscious of my body. I wouldn’t even want to see myself naked. It started reflecting in my choices. I would try and hide my body behind clothes. This was even after I realised I was traumatised because of constantly being body shamed by the people around me.
Body-shaming is one such thing that affects a person their entire life. It is easy to ask someone to let go off the comments and be comfortable in their skin; but in reality, it takes time. And it takes time to unlearn the set constructs of beauty. Especially in the age of social media and in this quarantine world, it is a challenge to keep oneself unaffected by trolls and shamers.
Personally speaking, things changed when I started telling myself that I was beautiful the way I am. Experiences of my fellow feminists helped me a lot and so did reinforcement by my closed ones.
The way I used to find people pretty in their skin, in the same way, I gradually started looking at myself. This was possible because of learning to let go of the past and the shame. I learnt that shamers are going to shame you anyway, and it took me a while to love myself the way I am.
Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie Tashan
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Lawyer, Intersectional Feminist, Activist, Mental Health Warrior
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