I had completely surrendered myself at the hands of my pedicurist, my feet were singing out in happiness. I was drifting into my dream sequence; I was blissfully enjoying this pampering when I caught my pedicurist peering at my face. ‘Madam, why don’t you try our double chin removal therapy?’ For a teeny weeny moment I thought I hadn’t heard him right. ‘Try what?’ I asked him and that was it. He started an elaborate sermon on what the process entailed, how much it would cost me and also how effective it had been for all those ‘fat women’ who visited the parlour. I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to react. I just uttered a meek yes and couldn’t wait to get done and leave.
I thought the worst was over, I had presumed I had seen and felt the worst but I was wrong. No matter how many times you hear it, being called fat/obese/healthy/XL were tags you would never want to be associated with. What is it about being fat that is so repulsive? The entire way back home all I could think of was all the things I had heard over the years and how at different points in my life they had affected me. I enjoy a good laugh and very often the good laugh is on me.
It isn’t a crime being fat, you know. Yet, there have been days when all I have wanted to do was bury myself deep within the earth and never re-surface. The worst was when my parents decided to start looking for a groom for me. Invariably all dinner table conversations would revolve around the numerous grooms’ mothers who had rejected me because I was fat. There was also one prospective-grooms mother who wanted to talk me into losing the weight. That is one conversation I will take to the grave. After speaking to me about my work and family and everything else under the sun, she said to me, ‘Why don’t you join some Yoga class or something, after a month you should take another photograph and send it to my son in Singapore’. I was stunned. I wanted to say so many things, but her age and my upbringing made me shut up. I would probably not have felt this bad if her son was well maintained and fit, he was infact, FAT. Then why these double standards? Why dream of a slim and trim daughter-in-law, when the son isn’t half of all that?
Just when I think the worst has been said there is something new. Let me narrate an incident here, when in college, two friends of mine and me were waiting for an auto to get to college. After having found one we were off. When we reached our destination and got off and paid him, he said, “ Madam, Paanch rupaiya extra”. Why I asked him and his reply put me to such shame that even today that scar won’t heal. He said, “Extra weight ke liye madam – extra baggage”. I paid him that extra cash and almost wished the earth would split wide open and eat me up alive. I have laughed this off with friends over coffee, but the scar it had left deep within will never heal. I will never really feel pretty or beautiful, I have been made to believe that a fat person can never be truly beautiful and yet there is nothing I wish to do to change that. I am comfortable with the skin I have and will continue to have it all my life.