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I can’t deny the fact that these comments must have affected me at a deeper level. Or else I wouldn’t remember these incidents after all these years.
Kiran Manral’s latest article on body shaming got me thinking about my experience and here I am sharing my personal journey.
According to the WHO, over 1 billion people worldwide are obese–650 million adults, 340 million adolescents, and 39 million children. Obesity is a huge health concern and needs attention. Creating awareness and having open conversations about it would show us better results than shaming others.
To all those who have ever indulged in body shaming, and found it funny… I can only say this–“Tum nahi samjhoge. Kuch kuch hota hai.”
Unlike the movie, the “kuch-kuch” in this case is not a mushy feeling enveloping the heart, but rather a haunting feeling of deep pain, anguish, and despair. It can even lead to lifelong trauma.
I am happy about the awareness that is being created and people have finally started talking openly about this sensitive issue. It is important to be healthy and feel healthy. A positive body image makes all the difference.
If obese people are at one end of the spectrum, at the other end are the skinny ones. Like me.
The general misconception is that a thin person is healthy. It’s not the case always. According to researchers, underweight people are five times more likely to die after being treated for common heart problems.
Apart from heart problems, skinny people are affected by higher incidences of osteoporosis, anaemia, decreased immunity, irregular menstrual cycles, etc.
When we hear the word ‘body shaming,’ we automatically associate it with an obese person. Not many of us realise that mocking a skinny person is body shaming, too.
I have been on the skinnier side all my life. I hit the magic figure of ‘50’ only after my marriage.
Trust me, life’s not easier on the other side either. I have faced more than my fair share of ridicule, especially during my growing-up years.
Though these incidents happened over two decades ago, I still remember them.
I haven’t forgotten the “kind” people who would joke if my parents had forgotten to feed me. Or the “over-concerned” ones who worried if my parents or sister were eating my share of food.
Every summer, hot, dusty winds would blow over the plains of northern India. The change in weather would make people around me extra conscious of my welfare. “Beta, be careful. Ud mat jaana!” They would comment, worried if the winds might actually carry me away.
Probably, in their hearts, they meant well. But such laced taunts didn’t help me in any manner. I find it surprising that none of them realised how mean and unkind they were being.
If the adults were exhibiting cruelty, kids my age were not accepting either. An episode from 1995 remains unforgotten to date.
This incident happened when I was in 10th standard. There was pin-drop silence during the science period. A “witty” comment from the class clown sent the entire class giggling. To my horror, the teacher was having a good time, too. Choking back my tears, I too joined in the laughter. Soon, the period ended. The joke was forgotten. Forgotten by them. Not me! I still remember the manner in which my classmate tapped his plastic scale on my back, rolled it along my spine, and sneered, “ma’am, we don’t need this chart to understand the skeletal system. Chandra hai na. I just counted all her bones.”
Thankfully, my parents didn’t let me get affected by the vile comments. I don’t remember ever trying to do anything silly to gain weight. I never ate raw eggs with milk or feasted on bananas for breakfast despite all the suggestions that poured in. I was a happy child.
Having said that, I can’t deny the fact that these comments must have affected me at a deeper level. Or else I wouldn’t remember these incidents after all these years.
These experiences have made me stronger and more sensitive toward others who are battling health issues.
I have just one request for all those reading this article. Next time you see someone obese, don’t call them ‘moti.’
Or, if you come across a skinny person, please don’t ask them, “Ghar pe khaane ko nahi milta hai kya?”
It hurts, it really does.
Image source: a still from the film Gippy
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There are many mountains I need to climb just to be, just to live my life, just to have my say... because they are mountains you've built to oppress women.
Trigger Warning: This deals with various kinds of violence against women including rape, and may be triggering for survivors.
I haven’t climbed a literal mountain yet
Was busy with the metaphorical ones – born a woman
Fighting for the air that should have come free
And I am one of the privileged ones, I realize that
Yet, if I get passionate, just like you do
I will pay for it – with burden, shame, – and possibly a life to carry
So, my mountains are the laws you overturn
My mountains are the empty shelves where there should have been pills
When people picked my dadi to place her on the floor, the sheet on why she lay tore. The caretaker came to me and said, ‘Just because you touched her, one of the men carrying her lost his balance.’
The death of my grandmother shattered me. We shared a special bond – she made me feel like I was the best in the world, perfect in every respect.
Apart from losing a person who I loved, her death was also a rude awakening for me about the discrimination women face when it comes to performing the last rites of their loved ones.
On January 23 this year, I lost my 95 year old grandmother (dadi) Nirmala Devi to cardiac arrest. She was that one person who unabashedly praised me. The evening before her death she praised the tea I had made and said that I make better tea than my brother (my brother and I are always competing about who makes the best chai).
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