By Sushmita Singh:
“You look beautiful.” That’s something many of us wish to hear for themselves, and that too, every day.
Right since I was a kid, around 10 years old, I had been, what they call it, a ‘fat kid’. At family events and social gatherings (weddings, birthday parties etc.), I was constantly told that I have a very pretty face, but I should start ‘watching’ my weight. I am sure, everybody who said that to me, meant well for me (or at least I’d like to think they did).
But, you know, asking a 10-year-old to lose weight and not get ‘any fatter’ is not one of the most helpful and nicest things, not nearly. I have hated my body for as long as I can remember. Always with the “Oh, stop eating that,” “Do some physically-challenging activities,” “You are too overweight for a girl your age!”
At school, at coaching classes, with my friends, at home, everywhere I was and everywhere I went, I felt like I was not good enough. And mind you, all because I was obese. I know that’s not a healthy lifestyle, and by means of this article, I’m definitely not trying to convey that I was proud of it. But you know what else is unhealthy? Constantly picking over a kid, who has an eating disorder and a tortoise-slow metabolism! The amount of damage those ‘concerns’ can do, to a kid, it’s amazing. Those concerns do wonders to our self-esteems, if you must know.
By the time I was in high school, I was convinced that I was hideous. (Sorry, my younger self, for being too harsh on you!)
There were times when elders used to come up to my parents and say, “Your kid is so intelligent, I’m sure she will get to great success in life. But, on the other hand, you must watch her weight.” I swear, I have overheard this so many times, and have been crushed equally bad each time. You know, maybe the kid would get to great heights of success in life if people like yourself wouldn’t put her down over something as petty as her weight. That might help.
By the time I was 18, I’d reached the point where I had started to starve myself, just so I could ‘look beautiful’ to everybody around me. “Pfft, how naive!” But hey, they compelled me to hate myself, and I wanted to feel more acceptable.
With everybody’s growing ‘concern for my health’, I started to starve myself and got on to exercising (Not the best way to get healthy – eating like a baby and running like an athlete). In less than 5 months, I had dropped down 12 kilograms of weight. That’s something I was proud of, when I had done it. But now, not so much!
I’ll tell you why. With the pretty visible weight loss that I’d went through, people’s behaviour towards me started changing. They had started to accept me, far better than they did at the time I was fat.
Now, I am nowhere close to being lean, but I am borderline mean to everybody who’d once contributed to my low self-esteem. I do not hate them. I hate what the fake standards of beauty and body image has done to their minds. Those fake ideals, they do no good – neither to the one who does not meet them, nor the one who projects and promotes them.
Now, I do not like it when people compliment me for my physical attributes because that only suggests that finally, I’m good enough for their eyes, I pass for their visual leisure and that’s why I’m on the receiving end of those compliments. I could have really used those back then, when I had been sulking in self-loathing, and for what? -something as petty as my weight.
I do not want to be beautiful, not anymore. Because the idea of ‘beautiful’ only promotes self-loathing amongst the ones who’re considered to be conventionally not good-looking enough. And I refuse to encourage that.
Low self-esteem amongst kids and/or adults, that’s never the thing that I’m going to sign up for.
I say, burn the concept of beautiful.
Let’s stop bringing in the usage of the term ‘perfect’, and for ourselves and everybody we know.
Why are we even taught that ‘nobody is perfect’? Oh, everybody I know, and have seen, sure seemed like it, to me.
“I am perfect. So are you.”– make this a habit, and a regular one.
Promote self love in the nicest ways, not the ‘fakest’ ways. Because that’s going to do good to no one.