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.
This is an awesome piece of work you have written. I can identify with you so much. There have been so many similar instances of embarassment when for eg. I went to one of the Meena Bazaar outlets in Gurgaon; and the salesman met me at the door and said aapke size mein kucch nahin hai!! I was so exasperated because they also have saris and unstictched materials…but his body blocking made me feel so bad, I immediately left and till date in my own little battle of protest haven't entered any MB shops ever.
People view overweight people as objects with no feelings or will power. There are numerous suggestions/opinions everyone has…but alas..there's no compassion or empathy….
Am still battling the bulge and don't know if and when I can be smaller; but now in my mind I love and respect my self and will not allow anyone including myself to berate myself anymore.
Really brave of you to share your experience on a public forum. Not many have the courage. I talk to women everyday on this topic, as you know. Sincerely feel for all of them and it is not just being "fat", any woman who is too thin, too short, too tall has to go through such judgments. Once a lady walked in with her daughter and treated her like a rag doll and pointed to her various body parts, saying "yahan se kam kar do iska, aur yahan se thoda theek kar do…isko ladke waale dekhne aa rahe hain.." I was shocked and told her in front of her daughter that her daughter is perfectly fine, she can join to get fit, healthy and happy for her own self anytime but we cannot chisel her like this. Each woman is beautiful in her own way and we should not worry about being fat as long as we are able to live a happy wholesome life and the fat is not stopping us from doing what we really want to do right now or in future. It is that simple!
HI Vidya & Simi
I can so identify with the terrible tales you guys have narrated here. I have gone through all too many of such expereinces myself. My lowest low came with this shallow insensitive fellow. We had been speaking over phone for sometime, and he never failed to tell me how enamoured he was with my voice, my intellect, my sensitivity, my humour, and what not. I was just too delighted to have found 'the one'. Since it was an arranged marriage set up, photos had been exchanged, and this communication over a period of about 2 weeks had almost sealed it for the both of us. Finally we met, I was all decked up to meet my prospective 'soulmate'. Here he is, accompanied by his rather shabbily dressed mother. We had a reasonably pleasant conversation, after which he left. My parents, at my sheer insistence had made up their minds to finalise this chap for marriage. Later I call him up and he keeps 'taaloing' me for about a week, and then finally says, "tum moti ho." And mind you I'm not fat like super fat, but yes I'm on the heavier side. My "great voice, intellect, humour.." nothing could match up to "my weight". This incident turned out to be such a lesson for me and utter embarrassment for my parents.
However, after it was all over, he came back and stalked me for almost a year to patch it up, felt sorry umpteen times, but I had had my share of learning.
But yes, it just reiterated the universaly held belief that only "slim and fair is beautiful". Fat and dark can go sit in the corner lamenting their lousy fates!
Hi Vidya, I feel for you…actually there seems to be a mad mania in the world right now where people are not happy with their own selves and they are unhappy and make others unhappy too by projecting their insecurities…too much stock is being set on the outward and material. Thin, fat, dark, short, too tall anything at all can be made into a point and the life pestered out of simple , good people who just want to live a normal happy self respecting life. Each of us is beautiful and each of us needs to figure that out and give ourselves the love n respect that we want frm others….Others are finally just others- outside of us- let them stay out and let's not give them much heed at all. That'll teach them a lesson….btw you look gorgeous going by ur profile pic 🙂
When I read this piece I felt as if you are writing about me!!! It just throws light on my life that I live everyday and sometimes more uglier and horrible incidents happen. Just because you are overweight people treat you like you have some disease. All the salesmen in India who themselves are undernourished men having 24 waist give you the most insensitive remarks assuming it’s everyone’s right who is not overweight to remark on others like its their damn birth right!
I have tried to loose weight I will always keep trying but people assume that we don’t see ourselves in the mirror or know how we look… they will come to give you free advice about it and honestly then I feel is that, is this how they see me?…
Did not realize there are more like me out there… Kudos to you
You are quite a vivacious girl and look at the way you dance….I kept looking at you during the Tamil moms meet…your moves were the most energetic and you thoroughly enjoyed it..if you have been over weight from when you were young and have carried it gracefully, then there is nothing to fear. People will talk …you can't do anything about it! Here's what I feel….it's important to stay fit and healthy even if you are heavy. As you grow older the metabolism slows down and obesity may lead to health problems so keep a check and feel good about yourself :))))
I completely empathise with your experiences. Unfortunately we are living in a society which is shallow and looks matter to people whether its weight, colour, complexion or height. People will talk, however most important thing is that we should not let that affect our self esteem. There can be good in every criticism, if we look at it positively, and work around that criticism. What matters is that one should be healthy. Weight can lead to serious health problems and in many cases even hamper your productivity at work or socially. A healthy body has healthy mind and positive thoughts. Sadly just like most good things in life, for most of us it is not easy to get a healthy body, thanks to our lifestyles.
So I would suggest that let the world say whatever they want but love yourself and work hard to be fit, even if that means sacrificing the dessert at a birthday party.