Dear pair of eyes ,
This is a token of gratitude, for helping make me who I am today, a confident twenty-four year old, who walks with her chin held high enough to baffle you, who will look right back at you, challenging you to show her yet another synonym of ‘fat’ in the shallowness of your discomfort.
You taught me to see a challenge in you, in place of an attack; you enlightened me of exactly what was wrong with me, aiding a recovery that took a while, and a whole lot of courage; you, every time you look at me, show me the extent of how sick this world is, to think that I am nothing but my dress size.
I feel nothing but gratitude, and maybe a side of pity for you – as a fat girl who relied on her wits, humour, extra curricular talents, contacts, wealth, position in society, nepotism, pity, superhero powers, horse whisperer talents, professional juggling skills, and scores of other abilities, to earn your approval, which my size robbed from me. Without your constant and dogged encouragement, I would’ve gotten nowhere.
My curriculum vitae thanks you, it would not have been full-bodied without you. My mom and dad thank you, for being able to boast about their multi-talented child.
Thank you for discounting me when my performance was not upto par, for you taught me to take unfair, baseless rejection, and turn it into the enriching experience of being able to entertain myself, and enjoy my own company.
Every time you look at me, you show me the extent of how sick this world is, to think that I am nothing but my dress size.
Dear girl/guy at the bar,
I cannot tell you how relieved I am, that you would leave the seat next to me open for someone who doesn’t think “Do you like bananas, because I’m a-kela!” is a plausible conversation starter. Thanks for letting me enjoy my drinks in peace, or getting safely sloshed at a girls’ night out. You help me save my girl friend from your lecherous intentions and predator instincts. In this world that is becoming increasingly unsafe for women who don’t dress ‘properly’, or eat chowmein, or dare to do something only a man is allowed to do, I know I am at the bottom of your prey-list. Also, hell no, you can’t borrow my lighter.
Dear person on the road,
I would be lying if I said anything about you bothered me. Please, by all means, continue staring.
Dear blood bonds of mine, the aunties and the uncles,
Your concern for me, which ranges from “You need to look after your health”, to “Who will ever want to get married to you?”, helped me learn how to not give a damn. You taught me how to effectively daydream my way through conversations, without the help of Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes. You paved my realization of how little concern people have for personal space, and of how oblivious they are to the fact that I don’t consider them close enough to casually make fun of me (by the way, casual insults are not a thing). Without you, I wouldn’t have developed a keen eye for gossip mongers and troublemakers – people so unsatisfied with their own lives and bored out of their minds, that they’d consider depleting the self worth of an unsuspecting woman as a pastime. Many thanks to all of you.
Dear waiter at the restaurant,
Your shrewd scrutiny of my food order initially surprised me, given that you are in the food business to make money. But thank you – it taught me that my food preferences were not something I invite social commentary on, vocal or silent. You have as much a role in ‘helping’ me decide what I eat whenever I want to eat, as you do in helping me decide what the colour of my nail polish is going to be.
Before I forget, the likes of you who are everywhere, being silent observers, please don’t give me a tummy ache from drooling too much over my food.
Dear person that I body-shamed,
I apologize for having taken out my unresolved issues on you, by body shaming you back. I am sorry you were the unwitting subject of my immaturity. Thank you, for being vocal about the pain I inflicted – you were an inspiration to me.
Dear friends, best friends, baes,
Thank you. Maybe a mention in this letter might even upset you, because my dress size was not a thought that even passed through your mind.
I owe it to myself, to that stereotypical, cliché girl in myself, who jumps with joy when you compliment me on my clothing choices, or when you think I look hot, or when you pretend to hit on me.
Above and beyond that, thank you for being sensible, rational, understanding human beings, for knowing that I am so much more than what eyes can see, for knowing that my size is not under my control, and letting me know that even if it were, you’d be more than happy to pig out with me.
Thank you for helping me build my fortress with everything that was thrown at me. Thank you, for being the artillery to my one woman army.
Dear boyfriend (exes, current, to be),
I know you think I was always as strong as I am today, but I wasn’t. The extent to which you helped me overcome insecurities, body image issues, and physical attraction conundrums, is not quantifiable.
I feel sexy about myself today, in a large part because you were insanely attracted to me, and didn’t shy away from it. I know how much it takes, to deviate from what has been drilled into your heads from forever, to reach the point where you are today. This is a token of appreciation for standing up for me, for getting angry on my behalf, for thinking lingerie suits me as well as it suits the women modelling them.
Dear mom and dad,
It would be presumptuous of me to think that I am capable of putting down in words the different kinds of awesome you are which made you do all that you did to shield me from fat shaming. From the very core of my being, thank you.
Dear fellow fat girl,
Hi there, beautiful!
I wish I could tell you that fat shaming wasn’t one of the worst things you’d face in your life. It certainly doesn’t come close to actual atrocities that women all around us face everyday, rendering us the helpless, weaker sex.
But when you are fat, when its safe to bet that the first conversation you hold with some concerned or random person will involve the topic of your size, when you can’t discern whether the kids walking past you are laughing at you or just some innocent joke, when what is sexy on others is vulgar on you, when every pair of eyes around you is your unsolicited potty-mouthed calorie counter, when any failure of yours is a multi-faceted failure because the first part of it is always that you are fat, when to feel strong and confident you sometimes must ignore your body, when haircuts are of crucial importance because something about you needs to look good – I’m sorry, my darling, that I can’t tell you that you don’t need to battle this everyday. I’m sorry I can’t be there to help you with it, to empower you to say, “to hell with them”.
Don’t let your identity BE ROOTED IN the size of your body any more than you want it to be.
Everything we do, is a whole other category, like plus size clothing. We cant beat it, but don’t let that disappoint you. Own it.
It was a tough journey, but I have learnt to love my body, love everything it is capable of, and everything that it can make me feel. I have learnt to point-blank ignore every comment about my appearance, clothing style, and my life choices. I have perfected the “and you are still talking?” look, complete with the single eyebrow raise.
Enjoy the screening process that is your size, which keeps all stereotyping misogynists far away from you. Enjoy wholeheartedly the praise you receive from your girl friends, because they are priceless. Enjoy sex, it is your body’s need, and it is fun! Eat what you want to, do not let anybody tell you that you shouldn’t find comfort in food. Most importantly, don’t let your identity be rooted in the size of your body any more than you want to have it be.
Live, babe, without cowering and hiding. Let yourself be seen as loudly as your voice is heard. Live life full size like nobody else can, because your body is your own bullshit guard, and nobody can walk over you anymore.
Yours most lovingly,
A fat girl who survived this world.
Featured Image Credit: Joanna Thangiah