This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by shasya goel. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Being ‘Too Thin’ Is Also A Problem: Why I’m Done With Society’s Ridiculous Expectations

More from shasya goel

By Shasya Goel:

kareena2
Source: YouTube.

“Beta, why are you so thin?” “Don’t your parents give you anything to eat?” “Did you consult a doctor?” Harassed by such incessant questions since childhood, I often find myself clenching my teeth hard, lest someone fall prey to a fatal blow. Resorting to sarcasm and retaliating by saying that my parents have devised a secret plan to starve me to death, and thus get rid of me, doesn’t help. Neither does a scientific explanation, entailing the reason as to why people with an ectomorphic body type find it hard to gain weight; or why a fast metabolism prevents them from attaining a physique like that of the great Khali.

I’ve often been told by my friends to get rid of the gigantic glasses I wear and see the world with my bare eyes. It is not the desperate need to ‘look good’ that startles me as much as the stereotypes that draw a thin boundary around the definition of beauty, falling out of which one is relegated to the not-so-blessed category. The irony is hard to miss and harder not to wince at. Hackneyed beliefs and yardsticks of judgement form an impenetrable cage that binds us with its dos and don’ts, imprinting on our minds a fixed expectation of appearance, thus creating a divide instead of bringing people together. My experience of studying in a convent college at Delhi University further confirmed this observation. Girls with a lean frame could be seen directing envious glances in the direction of those more well endowed while the latter fumed with jealousy at the sight of slim figures.

Recently, Parineeti Chopra launched a campaign called ‘Built That Way’ to inspire overweight girls to lose extra flab. The initiative in itself is laudable, but not the method in which the campaign was endorsed. More than an exercise at promoting fitness, it seemed like an act of defiance on the actress’ part to prove that she too can fit within the narrow realm of Bollywood expectations. The pictures of her photo shoot that circulated on the web contained expressions that urged one to ‘leave the average behind’ and ‘kill the weakness instead of hiding it’.

Seen in isolation, nothing strikes as objectionable in these pearls of wisdom. But as soon as you scrutinise the subtle connotations and put it in context with the issue at hand, things don’t appear gung-ho anymore. These simple, straightforward adages disguised as worldly wisdom take on a ghastly appearance as you look beyond words, and realise that the weakness being talked about in this case is your inability or unwillingness to lose those extra pounds. This is regarded as distasteful since you’re not striving for excellence and settling for mediocrity.

Parineeti considered herself “chubby and childish” four years earlier, and now what she wanted the most was to be confident. If one is made to feel uncomfortable in one’s skin to an extent that it undermines their confidence, then we need to do a reality check to ascertain the kind of society we are living in. Such a society fosters an atmosphere, not of growth, but one of unhealthy competition that sows the seeds of insecurity and anxiety. More than the need to be fit, it is the media and the people who claim to be her ‘fans’ who seemed to have played a role in this transformation. Her sudden realisation did not show signs of stemming in the absence of criticism, but only when faced with a barrage of ridicule. Irrespective of whether she may or may not have been happy with the way she looked, the mounting pressure ensured her plunge headlong into this societal construct.

A while back, when I went to consult my gynaecologist for some problems I had, I was told that I may be experiencing a slight hormonal imbalance. This would, in the long run, affect the way my body functions. One of the effects it can have on one’s body is to slow the metabolism down. The thought of turning into a ‘fat potato wedge’ for the rest of my life when half of it was spent being ‘thin as a stick’, amused me more than it should have scared me. Smirking in delight at the prospect of watching shocked reactions of those who were so concerned about my physique, I mulled over the possible questions that would come around this time. “Beta, you’ve grown really plump, did your parents give you too much to eat this time?”

When we walk out of the house with layers of artificial paste stuck to our face, I wonder what it is that we wish to hide so badly. Instead of moulding how we look, how about we give ourselves a chance to mould how we think or feel about ourselves? Not merely in terms of appearance, but with regard to our core essence that makes us human. How hard is it to grasp that a mirror is merely glass, with nothing of its own to reflect. It simply throws at us copied images of the universe. Would anyone willingly let such an artist paint a picture of them? For beauty lies in what you see, not in the colour of your eyes. In the words that come out of your mouth, not in the curve of your lips. Beauty lies in what you feel, not in the way you look.

You must be to comment.
  1. Anon

    Nice article. Frankly, Parineeti still looks the same to me! She is a good actress but the fat-loss drama was pointless. For all we know, she might have gotten her stomach stapled. 😛

  2. shasya goel

    Haha, thanks Anon. And probably I would give the credit where it’s due, she may have put in a genuine effort we really don’t know. 🙂 but yes, creating a hype over it like she did was pretty much pointless.

More from shasya goel

Similar Posts

By Payoja Bhakre

By Sakshi Tyagi

By Harish Prajapat

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below