Your body is your business – especially its size – but one of the first sexist social constructs that was often slapped on us was being told that a thin woman is pretty. I grew up with this idea of a perfect body image and thought that flab was “unpretty” and would not get me boyfriends and a husband when I’d decide to take the plunge and make a family. Adulthood brought it’s own dilemmas one of which was that I started to grow fatter despite being a vegetarian and a runner. Moving from fit to fat got me thinking about weight loss, even though I had no ambitious fitness goals like the actors or sportspersons.
I started eating smaller portions of food and gulping down water like a fish but it didn’t work in my favour. I have a very strange body type which of course I don’t intend to liken with fruits. I have really heavy arms and it seems all the fat that stealthily gets under my skin finds a home around the arms. Initially I didn’t pay heed to it and ignored all the warning bells. No one at home especially my parents ever mentioned it, nor did my best of friends. My arms started swelling and apparently one day a comment from a friend’s friend got me thinking. His usage of sexist language was evident in the message he wanted to convey.
Entering a vicious cycle of denial and detestation had me constantly googling about losing arm flab and even pushed me to visit the doctor.
So, was I really fat and did my swollen arms make me look like a bouncer who bashes up people outside restaurants and bars? That was a moment of self introspection after which I told myself to wear clothes that had full sleeves or quarter sleeves, so that my inflated arms could get camouflaged. Entering a vicious cycle of denial and detestation had me constantly googling about losing arm flab and even pushed me to visit the doctor to check if I was suffering from a strange disease.
Also Read: Dear World, Thank You. Sincerely, A Fat Girl
The doctor assured me that I was healthy and wasn’t wracked by an illness that was debilitating. Those words were sweet music for me, but the depression and self-loathing were danger signals of how atrocious the problem of body shaming was, and how it can get the better of us.
Over the years putting on extra flab has restricted my ability to run and also given me a bad back, which is when I decided to shed some extra kilos.
This incident of body shaming by a guy who thought that a woman with fat arms was an ugly sight and deserves a tasteless misogynist joke, made me realise how we often choose to ignore men and their pot bellies, but never ignore a woman who has put a little extra weight – nagging her at every opportunity that is presented before us. Being a woman is a serious business, I know.
Here are the five lessons I learned from this incident of being shamed for my fat body and especially my arms:
1) Your body is yours, and it belongs to no other person other than you. Even if you are into an intimate relationship, your partner has no right to criticise your body, because you own it not them.
2) Fat and thin are socially constructed images, and they shouldn’t be a yardstick for measuring your worth.
How often we choose to ignore men and their pot bellies, but never ignore a woman who has put a little extra weight.
3) Body shaming afflicts women more than men because patriarchy made sure that a set of rules is laid down to suppress women. A feminine body as per the sexist standards cannot gain weight or shouldn’t be too thin (there is something called thin-shaming too) and should be of the ideal weight for the age and height.
4) One shouldn’t worry about a fat or thin body as long as it is healthy and free from diseases. If the fat has started giving you trouble, shedding it would be a wise move.
5) Never let another person’s judgement about you get on your nerves. When they find faults about intimate personal details like weight, give them a cold shoulder.
Remember you are the owner of your body. You are the one to take decisions about it. Do not let anyone’s condemnation or rude judgement belittle you. As long as you are happy with how your body makes you feel, it is not anyone’s business to find faults with it.