Thursday, May 05, 2016

Body shamers

I have always been what one would, if they wanted to be polite, call "healthy" - a chubby child, an awkwardly big adolescent and now, a rotund adult. Neither I nor the people around me have forgotten that, and when I am not taking digs at my own size, my family and friends would run jokes on my behalf. In fact, my cousin's childhood nickname for me was "Moti", and he most definitely was not referring to pearl. I have never considered digs about my weight or size "body shaming", till almost a decade back at B-school.

At the end of a morning class session in the first term, a classmate came up to me and told me, very gleefully, how a bunch of guys in the last bench were just discussing about how large my arms were and the apparent sex appeal in them. My friend, who was sitting next to me, shooed him off saying he was talking 'bakwaas' and he should shut up. But, I was mum, a tad too numb, because I was too shocked that someone said that to me, about a specific body part. I didn't turn up in class the rest of the day as I spent the day wondering about what body parts of me people would be looking at or thinking of instead of talking to me, if and when I turned up. Of course, I went to class the next day, because I couldn't miss the course for the sake of a few bozos. However, my only regret for so many years now has been that I did not give it back to that guy, and had it buried inside me for so long. 

That situation has now been taken care of. The person contacted me for something, and while I was still mum during the initial conversation, something in me snapped when he said, "Looks like you are loving fitness routines. Your photos seem to suggest you have lost weight." I just told him that I am still the same person, only that no one body shames me any more unlike a bunch of bullies back in B-school. It felt good, though it was many thousand hours late.

Body shaming, as the urban dictionary informs me, is about shaming a person for their body. And, it isn't always about a fat person. It is about that girl who has a stick thin body and is insecure about it, because someone once told her that her clothes hang on her like on a pole. It is about the dark skinned boy who is compared to the night of the new moon or a 'karuvadu' (sun-dried fish in Tamil) day in and day out. It is about that short boy being told he will not find a girl his size and a tall girl being informed she is too much of an ostrich for marriage. For years, marketing companies have used our insecurities and these body shamers' words to coerce us into buying and using things we may perhaps be better off without than with. 

No, I am not going to spend time giving links to those advertisements and the outrage in media over them. Many a good samaritan has already taken care of that. I am just going to remind you, the body shamed (no one has the picture perfect body after all), to give it back when someone tries to shame you. You may yell, you may talk nicely, you may smile, you may not smile. Just drive the point across. The more you call out the shamers on their shaming, the lesser they will shame everyone, and the better this world will be, for us and our future generations too.


Yogesh said...

You missed mentioning lanky boys, who can't lift weights, and are often asked, 'Have you tried Endura Mass - that thing they advertise on TV for gaining body weight?' :)

Kavity said...

Haha yes. Can imagine how that would have stung!