Monday, April 3, 2017

Body Shaming: Fat and thin are socially constructed images

Your body is your business, especially it's 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 to 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.This trend of moving from fit to fat got me thinking, 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 bothered to tell me about 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. 

So, was I really fat and did swollen arms make me look like a bouncer who bashes up people outside restaurants and bars for behaving indecently and causing trouble for the other patrons. 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 made me visit the doctor to check if I was suffering from a strange disease to googling about losing arm flab. 
The doctor assured me that I was healthy and wasn't racked 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 realize 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.

Picture credit.

Here are the five lessons I learned from this incident of being shamed for my fat body
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, which shouldn't be a yardstick for measuring your worth.
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 your 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.



Anonymous said...

A very heart warming post. I was a victim of thin shaming all through my life until a couple of years ago. Then I gained a little weight. And the whole world had a problem with it. When I posted the newly wed couple pics on social media, I thought people would comment about our happy faces or the beautiful backgrounds.. But no.. I was wrong. Every comment was about the teeny tiny layer of belly fat and the weight gain.

A Delhi Dame said...

As you said, now when I'll grow thinner, people will have a problem with that too. I wish we women could be spared of the critical observations that people make of us, especially our bodies. What matters at the end of the day, is how we see ourselves. Do not let their judgements affect you! :)