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Body Shamed Throughout School, Lady Shri Ram College Taught Me How To Be Proud Of Myself

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December 17, 2015. A date clearly etched in my mind along with 110 other students. The only difference in our memory of that day is that I remember it as the ugliest day of my life and they, as one of their best. As a kid, we all looked forward to the day of parting, the school farewell. I remember being told how overwhelmingly beautiful we will end up looking when we drape ourselves in a traditional never-ending piece of cloth. I wish I could go back to these people and tell them how I had felt exactly the opposite of beautiful. My school life had been successful in making me feel ugly, especially on a day when I thought that for once, the mirror would be appreciative of me.

My school life was not a pleasant experience. I remember how two of my seniors bullied me about my weight when I was just in second grade and how ugly my teachers made me feel by throwing me out of a dance performance, only because I failed to be perceived as ‘beautiful’ by them.

Then came summer, and there I was in LSR (Lady Shri Ram College for Women) – in a college that for me, was a response to the world that had been trying to be ‘anti-me’. A college which Google told me was diverse, one of the best and would give me an experience that would stay with me for the rest of my life.

And I indeed saw myself change. I turned out to be a person who suddenly began appreciating her own beauty. Getting rejected from societies purely on the basis of performance and not because one of the judges felt that I was heavier than the usual girls, made me feel proud about my rejections for once. For once, the world was fair. I met people, who told me on a specific Tuesday morning how nice I looked in that plain pink kurta, as opposed to my school mates who used to taunt me and ask me to give up wearing kurtas as they took it as proof that western shops were not producing clothes of my size.

For once, I had discussions with people in my college over the health related harmful effects of being overweight and not so that I could implement the findings to make a guy stay in my life. This was in stark contrast to my experience at school, where I was once told bluntly by people how my crush would not reciprocate to my feelings, because according to them, I was not beautiful. While some of my school friends made me believe that losing weight would mean becoming beautiful, it was because of my college friends that I finally became a regular gym goer.

While my school made me feel as if it was a social taboo to wear Indian clothes at such a young age and how the suffix ‘aunty’ would soon be added to my name. But in college, I came across people, just the opposite of me in size, wearing Indian clothes too. There were weeks when I would go on wearing Indian clothes at a stretch and it felt pleasant because almost after a period of 5 years, for the first time, I was wearing what I wanted to – and it was appreciated.

My college made me proud of my choices. I realised that my choice of clothes did not validate my age and wearing western clothes did not portray us to be any younger than we are. It was in college that I wore a dress for the first time. Back in school, the idea of a person who weighed 89kg wearing a dress was very conveniently mocked at.

Today, when I look back into the first year of my college, I do not feel unattractive anymore. I still weigh the same, but I do not feel the same anymore. I feel beautiful no matter what, and my college has played an important role in that.

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  1. Shaurya Tiwari

    Read your work for the first time. Good going Shivanshi

  2. Kriti Shrivastava

    It’s a pleasure to read your articles.
    I totally relate to your story, and I feel that it’s the patriarchal norms of the society that play a major part in defining the feminine beauty standards along with the lead player of westernisation.
    One must understand that there is a considerable difference between the words ‘westernisation’ and ‘modernisation’ and it is with great shame that I put forth the reality of merely a bunch of people being really modernised in their approach towards such issues.
    And as for the male dominated norms, it’s only us who can bring the change in the mindset of the society for now it’s not just a person or so who are obese. It just might be hereditary or something more than merely superficial and it is us who have to be the patrons of the grim reality for truth is never gold-coated.

  3. Anuproya Tripathi

    As far as i can remember, our school was the most decent one . Even I had gone through such things and still go through them. It doesn’t really matters in which institution you are, such things will happen always in one’s life no matter how perfect or imperfect you are. But none of my teachers be at school or college has ever judged me because of being overweight. Specially at school since we have studied from the same school. I just felt a lil sad after reading it. But it’s a Well Written Article , good luck……….. No offence ✌

  4. sneha

    great job!Everyone should love themselves and be comfortable in their bodies-media and fashion keep on changing trends of beauty and they certainly shouldnt be yardstick for who you are!

  5. Utsav Thapliyal

    Hey! I was at SJA myself, and I guess such an environment exists in most schools. It’s really great that you share such a beautiful story which is really inspiring for others. People need to begin valuing that they are great as they have their own respect and no one else’s opinion can shake that. 🙂

  6. Majesty

    I was often judged as a child for being shy, not a very fast learner and often not able to make friends quickly. The women friends of my mother would often say to my mother and infront of me that your younger daughter wouldn’t get married to a rich and nice husband because she doesn’t have pretty features like most Arunachali girls and she’s darker too compare to most fair looking girls here.
    My elder sister and me would often have sibling arguments it’s normal that all siblings fight or argue.
    But when you are a young child and your elder sister keeps passing remarks such as ugly looking, fat , dark and a girl who would forever remain lonely because she is shy , very reserved and not smart enough it hurts somewhere deep down.
    My parents were divorced and my mother took responsibility of both the children all alone. My mother decided to keep both me and my sister in separate boarding school.
    I was in standard 1 at a young age when most kids stay with their parents with utmost love and care you get landed up in a very strict boarding school where you are bullied everyday.
    I was a scared little soul and didn’t really know what and why exactly things were happening this way.
    I was never instructed by my parents to follow guidelines they already assumed me to handle everything that comes.
    I was scared , timid and often cried days wondering why this ? and why only me.
    I was bullied to the point that a certain girl punched me infact that certain girl bullied so many other girls too she punched me so hard so many times on my chest that I fell down on the bathroom floor unconscious I was sad but didn’t have the courage to tell anyone what I was going through.
    But one fine day I was diagnosed with tuberculosis as the right side of my lungs witnessed a blockage as water was stuck there.
    The doctor enquired me whether I was beaten up my someone in the chest because the damage was severe.
    I said yes I was often beaten up by a fellow classmate.
    My mom was sad to hear this news.
    She was punished by the school principal wih sticks and a warning.

    I was a hardworker I wasn’t very smart but I was always sincere my teachers were often impressed by my sheer dedication.
    The bully girl stole my notebooks too and the teacher often sent me out of the class for not obeying his /her orders.
    Atlast one day she was caught red by my teachers stealing.
    I was never a bad student I kept working hard.
    But people often said to me how fat I was I looked like a wrestler even though I didn’t weigh that much.
    My relatives often call me fat , or I wouldn’t get married and stuff or I would get diabetes or meet with serious illness often mocking at me.
    All my life I felt I wasn’t understood, loved and respected.
    I began feeling anxious and anxiety gradually filled my entire existence. l At standard VII I moved to the same boarding school as my elder sister.
    My elder sister was a very bright girl, beautiful, intelligent, and smart and always secured good grades.
    When I joined the school people were mean to me saying that I was a disappointment to them because my elder sister is pretty and very smart but m just the opposite.
    I had no friends people already had their groups and no one included me because I was the new kid and they were here since Nursery.
    I tried my best but after a point life became difficult I became a difficult child.
    My behaviour turned rude and I turned way too aggressive and short-tempered even at a very young age.
    Vacations were also not very pleasant either; my mother was also leading a hard life to educate her two children and her frustration would often lead to screaming and destroying stuff in the house.She was way too short -tempered and would often beat us violently and pass bad remarks and often blame me and my sister for destroying her good life.
    But despite her bad side she loved us deeply from the bottom of her heart.
    I was too afraid because the harsh situation of life turned my mother into a perfectionist.
    One single mistake and I would get beaten up real bad.
    I remember once I didn’t eat dinner on time and she came home angry and bet me very harshly with cane sticks.
    I had bruises over my body.
    I never really understood what’s the point of eating when you are not hungry at all and what do you derive by beating me up so hard just because I didnt eat.
    With time my mother’s financial situation flourished and she became a calmer person.
    I have immense love and respect for my mother.
    I know what she’s been through.
    But it sometimes get frustrating when you don’t let your child be what she wants to be.

    Iam still made fun off by people, calling me boring because I don’t drink alcohol, calling me fat and undesirable.
    A boring woman who men don’t crave for.
    Many times my sister often refers to me as judgemental psychotic ugly woman who didn’t have a boyfriend and longs for men’s attention is jealous of her beauty wants to bring her down and often mentioning me as someone who wants to be the pretentious nice sensible daughter of my mother.
    As I tried to confront her that she has to go back to college and not give up and not be backed down by people.
    But she never really understood my genuineness and till today accuse me of being jealous of everything she has.

    I often tried to kill myself because I felt dejected sad and lost for words. I would often swallow mud as a child to end my life , In standard VIII I tried killing myself by consuming phenyle and hair shampoo but instead I puked all the stuff out from my mouth.
    I tried to kill myself by eating 50 tablets together but still didnt die.
    I once tried to jump off from the hostel roof but the warden caught me trying to do so.
    Everytime I wanted to end my life I failed.
    Everything slowly started to change when I movee to a boarding school in Guwahati.
    I met new and kind people who understood me and accepted me for who Iam and also made me realize the art of humility and self acceptance.
    And while joining college in delhi university I realized I was strong I met people who often went through similar traumatic experience people who made me think out of the box.
    I realized Iam not a victim but a strong fierce lady who knows what she wants and wants to fight to live no matter how difficult the circumstances.
    I learned to step out of my comfort zone and learned to approach every challenge in a positive way.
    For the first time I realized I was precious and pledged to never back down.
    Iam now a completely different person from a person who always felt victimized I have changed myself to a person who believes in never gives up.
    I believe there’s something good in the world and that’s world fighting for.
    And every human being goes through difficult circumstances but the idea is to never give up!

  7. Majesty

    Sorry there’s a grammatical error please excuse it as I was busy typing very fast without realizing if I had made any mistakes or not
    Hope you will relate to my story and would never give up.

  8. Vipashayana

    Superb article Shivanshi! Truly LSR helps all the young women to be comfortable and confident in thier own skin! Very well written and very i spiring too! 🙂

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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.

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