“I’m Not Afraid Of The Mirror Anymore”: How I Learned To Rise Above Fat Shaming

Posted on July 9, 2016 in Body Image

By Kohsheen Chatta:

It’s 11 pm and I am looking at myself in the mirror, studying every inch of my body, every angle, hoping that this time, the mirror will give me the solace I need. I will finally feel beautiful. Who am I? I am one of those many girls who undergo restless nights due to their body weight issues. Who feel they can never compete with the high pedestal on which ‘tall, slim and fair‘ has been put by the society.

Constant pressure to lose weight.
Constant pressure to lose weight. For representation only.

I am fat. As a child, I was forced to say my weight out loud during Physical Education classes and was laughed at because you always make fun of the fat kid, don’t you? All my teenage life, I was body shamed. I was made to feel that my large bust size was, somehow, morally wrong. As I grew up, the words of romance by men were replaced by, “You know, you would make the perfect girlfriend but you just have to lose some weight.” People calling me up, would often ask, “Have you lost weight?” There came a point in my life where I felt guilty for eating. It felt like each meal would make me rounder. I couldn’t eat food. I am sure there are many who feel the same way. The question I ask you today is, why is being fat a taboo?

Millions of young girls struggle emotionally due to the unrealistic standards of beauty set up by society and this has culminated into the horrible practice of body shaming. Where does the problem lie? Is it in the fact that we show perfect women on TV which has the biggest influence on general public in this age? Ever seen a commercial with a fat person in it? We often use fat people as comic relief and see no wrong in doing so. Calling someone fat publicly is very normal and taking offence to that is not. Clothing brands often do not cater to women who don’t have a narrow waistline. Men often reject women who are fat without knowing them and often drive them to reduce weight. Can’t a fat woman be loved? The part that saddens me the most is that a fat person faces greater ignominy than a smoker who causes harm to himself, others and the environment. Is being fat so abominable?

The understanding of obesity in the general public has the range of a teaspoon. To most of you, people are fat because either they hog like a pig or they are too lazy. This, narrower than a Barbie’s waist, opinion often neglects causes like environment, genes and family history, medicines, hormones, emotional factors and various health conditions. Some of you who care a lot about other people’s body fat have started the insane trend of fat shaming that has been proven to increase obesity, development of eating disorders and depression. There is a higher risk of suicide in people with a highly negative body image. A woman can be healthy at any size and it does not necessarily mean that she is obese. Don’t I have the right to stay happy in my skin? Can’t you just accept that?

Media contributes to this fat shaming.

It took me years to finally accept the fact that I have a certain body type and I can’t completely overturn that ever. It does not mean that I am unhealthy. I still struggle with my body image but at least I don’t feel guilty for eating food anymore. I have learned to ignore others opinion about my body. I have realised, if to someone my waistline matters more than my heart, I should stop making space for them in my life.

To all the women out there who feel dejected because they are fat: You are beautiful. Walk with pride not with shame. There is nothing wrong in being who you are. You can be loved and you will be loved. Accept yourself and teach others to accept themselves so that there can be a wave of change. You have more of your charming self to share with this world. When you learn to accept yourself, one day slowly things will be alright.

It’s 11 pm and I am still looking at myself in the mirror, studying every inch of my body, every angle. I feel uneasy at first and then I smile because I am beautiful, the way I am and then, there is a sudden sense of calm. I am not afraid of the mirror.