Words: Prashita Patil
Image: Alexa Coe
(This article was submitted by Prashita Patil from Mumbai, India. It serves as a letter to the reader of her personal experience in overcoming body image issues.)
For most of my life I didn’t expose many body parts; not because I didn’t like to, but because I felt guilty about them. Hi, I’m a little brown girl, aged eighteen, short, fat, and size forty. But, I absolutely love the way I am. However, it would be a lie if I said I always loved the way I am as I live in a society where girls are thought to fit a stereotypical ideal: long hair, a soft voice, fair skin, waist – 28 and breast – 26. Despite being happily different, there are still times I wish to fit in that generalised mould which everyone else around me has set.
Thinking back, I remember how my classmates, friends and relatives used to call me fat and ask me to eat less and walk more. For many years it didn’t affect me, but, I got to a point where I wanted to look like my cousins and friends who perfectly the fit into the mould. As an effect, I started to hate myself and lost my confidence. I wanted someone to appreciate me. At fifteen, I joined the gym, diet or even skip meals and kill my temptations of tasty foods. In a year after doing this I lost almost 5-6 kg. Every person I met complimented my weight loss, but, I honestly wasn’t happier. As a result of the diet I had started to lose my hair, and then people started commenting on this too.
Now, everywhere I go I get advice on how to reduce my weight and for women today body shaming is everywhere. In India, TV series and movies typically feature girls who are fair and thin, and so, this creates another pressure to look a certain way. In fact, people of all ages are suffering from ‘normative discontent’, meaning that it’s normalised for them to be unhappy with their appearance.
Yet, I’m fat and I absolutely know that fact and I see my fat body everyday in the mirror and I choose to love it. Back fat, I see you popping over my bra today but that’s okay, thick thighs, you are so sexy, my arm fat, you make me look like a superman. Today and tomorrow, I won’t forget to embrace and love my body parts, my cellulite and body fat because they all are a part of me and are absolutely beautiful. As I said earlier I felt guilty while exposing any of my body parts because since my childhood I have been taught to hide them. Wearing short clothes or exposing more of your body is associated with calling unwanted attention and trouble. I am asked to be ashamed of my own body and this disgusts me. I love my body; if I want to show it off it’s okay. Showing my body doesn’t lessen my character or lower my self esteem. I’m not ashamed of my body and I will never be no matter how I look.
Rather than picking out our imperfections, we should embrace each and every body type, shape and colour. You have been conditioned to think that you are either too thin, too fat, too dark, too fair, or too plump but you are amazing. You are gorgeous. You are beautiful. There is no other genetic constitution as yours and no one else has the features you have. And so, we all must learn that there is beauty beyond size and colour. So go and tell your friends , relatives and classmates that they are a hero. They are beautiful just the way they are. Let’s start a body positive revolution today, right now.