You put on that old blouse you bought from the roadside stalls of Bandra Linking Road and you hate the way it sits on you. A treacherous friend: it does hug you the way it did back when the two of you were thick. Rolls of skin and fat peek from either sides, reminding you of fresh bread baking in the oven spilling out of its mould as it cooks. You take a moment and savour the mental picture (mmm…bread) and quickly snap back to reality.
“Ugh!”, in a quick move you remove the blouse and fling it across the room.
In accordance with the 5 stages of grief begins the denial, “No it can’t be! I fit into this last month”
Then comes the anger, “Damn you Shraddha Kapoor and your 12-year-old-boy frame!”
The bargaining stage, “I should have refused that big hunk of chocolate cake at XYZ’s party yesterday.”
And finally the depression stage, “Nobody will ever love you, you fat gluttonous slob.”
And then, the acceptance stage where you retire to a dark corner in the room with a bowl of Baskin and Robbins Mississippi mud that you were resisting for a while.
Many may find the scenario relatable (Of course, minus the drama) We feel that we aren’t meeting the ideals of beauty prescribed by the omniscient society and media and as women, we are obligated to fulfill them. These are ideals we may never be able to achieve, given our various limitations. The pressure to confirm is palpable and the failure to do so is distressing.
Women have been segregated into categories more diverse than a Starbucks coffee menu. There are skinny girls, fat girls, curvy girls, thick girls, carrying-a-little-bitty-weight girls (courtesy Calvin Harris), but the world will have to wait for the I-am-happy-the-way-i-am-you-can-mind-your-own-beeswax girls. The constant barrage of supermodel images through the media has many of us feeling bad about our lack of the thigh gap or our flatter- than- a -pancake behinds.
The Fat Shaming
First they turned our skinny sisters against us. “Look at her beautiful slim frame, her thin waist, and her petite wrists, why can’t you be more like her?” “You know, jalebis won’t vow to take care of you in health and sickness.” (Nonsense! because they totally can. Hmph!)
Plus sized women are accused of laziness and gluttony. The glorifying of rail thin bodies by the media didn’t help our already frail egos. Fat women are accused of being responsible for their own fate because somehow the root cause of all their problems stem from their sheer inability to put down the fork. As if things were that easy. When push came to shove, feminists decided to take up cudgels against the accusations and launched the Fat Acceptance Movement which urged women to embrace their bodies the way they are. It worked towards the obliteration of prejudices against plus sized people, but it didn’t take too long for it misinterpreted as an “us against them” revolution.
The Skinny Shaming
The object of their ire was now the skinny woman. “Oh look at her, promoting sickliness and malnutrition as ideals of beauty”; “Real woman have curves”; “Men love meat, only dogs love bones”; “Eat a sandwich” were some of the insults our thinner sisters had to endure. The idea of thin privilege led many to believe that insulting thin women was a service to humanity. No need to pussyfoot around the feelings of thin women; what were they thinking when they were refusing food or retching into a toilet bowl? Thin women are suddenly detrimental to the civil society; they exacerbate the problem of self image to a nation full of body conscious women.
The Fit shaming
Internet celebrity Maria Kang would do anything to go back in time and stop herself from uploading a motivational picture of her fit self titled –What’s your excuse? The angry internet mob descended on her like vultures. Soon, she was accused of fat shaming. How? By flaunting her perfect body to the world she was insinuating that the rest of us are worthless slobs. These sanctimonious health conscious freaks are out to wreck havoc in the society! So fit women, who take care of themselves through exercise and diet,aren’t “Real women ” right?
So who is a real woman? A real woman may have a job, she may have cats to feed, her friends may be legion, she may have flatulence problems, her boyfriend finds her beautiful despite the port wine stain on her face, her boss main be a p****, her father may have wanted a son, she’s living a life of disappointments just like you and me, she also could be Kim Kardashian. The last thing she needs to be told is that she isn’t real and that someone has the right to judge her based on her choices or a body that has been given to her by nature. It doesn’t make her struggles any less real.
Body image is an issue for the many of us even if we are considered attractive by conventional standards. To vilify others based on how they look is the vilest thing womankind could do. It doesn’t help to call a fat girl lazy or an anorexic woman unattractive, you are reinforcing her negative body perception and a host of other insecurities that are tied to her self worth.
The fact is, there is always going be the antagonistic “other” to whom we point to in order to make us feel better about ourselves. While there is no text book definition of a real woman, it is safe to say that each of us is real in our own ways.A little less hate and a lot more love. Let’s stop the shaming and let’s start accepting.