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An Ode To My Extra Pounds

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Hi, I am a heavy and curvy girl.

When I say this, it means I hold a lot of extra pounds. The pounds have been teaching me a lot lately. They are strict. However, I owe them a thank you. These long years of extra flesh have always made me realise the importance to look beyond. Fat kids are always made fun of, boycotted and rejected more often than usual. I was a victim too. I have been made to stand back in line because beautiful girls dance well and are ‘cherry’ to the eyes. I always used to challenge my father, for I thought there was no task which I couldn’t do. I proved him wrong in every field he thought I would fail in.

I learned to excel in all the fields that were looked highly upon, to impress others. I learned to be active and cook. However, I still heard suggestions my parents got regarding my weight. In no time, it became a matter of shame not only for me but my parents too. It became a big challenge when puberty first kissed my belly. Girls used to wear short skirts, low waist pants and crop tops. I used to cover myself the most and pretended to be someone who loved traditional wear, whereas I always wanted to hide everything that I could.

There was a time when I was convinced that I wasn’t the girl who was meant for any special attention. So, I behaved like boys and became a tomboy. It helped me in making many friends. At least it didn’t let me eat my lunch alone. It always made me realise I was worth a lot of pity. I had to compromise because I was fat and ‘undesirable’. My parents worried about my marriage since everyone was seen and judged.

As a reward of such a complex personality, it taught me to be humble, not mock people who are different and be wise. At least wisdom would give you someone to talk to. Girls said, “I love to go for shopping,” but I knew the embarrassment of wearing jeans which didn’t fit and a tight top. What a mystery it was when people talked about my good points, the points that made them feel that I was their daughter. However, no one knew. I worried when I walked beside a boy because I constantly felt that he should not feel embarrassed. They said do what your heart wants, but no efforts of mine have made myself comfortable in this heavy dress.

No matter how much I want to disown my weight, it has stopped me from losing my mind, from being overproud of my achievements. It was a dark reality check. I wish I could love it the way it is loving me.

-From a heavy curvy girl

To The Sad Curvy Girl I Was,

Such a loser I was. Because I could not love myself enough, I always thought people were insufficient and indifferent. I just over analysed everything and collected pieces of my failure to cry upon. I always thought things would be amazing and perfect once I lost weight, but this is not going to happen. Having a reality check is an important aspect of life. I could never figure out why the over-enthusiastic girl who used to be happy in the gym ended up leaving it. Why did no dietary plans work out? After all, what is the source of this great deserted hope?

And the day came when I realised that it wasn’t my fat. It was my ignorance about an amazing soul, that was getting accumulated and increasing. The reason to join the gym was wrong, the reason to have a slimmer body was wrong and that is why I didn’t end up losing weight. After a huge journey, my first step to weight loss was self-acceptance, the love for my body, the love that I expected others to show. How can someone love me, if I don’t love myself enough? And to my surprise, the girl in the mirror is beautiful and I have started loving my reflection in the mirror too.

The next step is to acknowledge the reason I want a better body. The gym should mean happiness and not a place that makes me feel filthy about myself. If not gym, then Yoga, and if not Yoga, then Zumba. Do whatever makes you feel happy and that may include you just wandering in a park alone. People bullshit about the fact that happy people get fat, laughter makes a person fat. Now, I have started listening to my guts, understanding my body and differentiating emotional hunger with physical hunger, something I lost a long time ago.

Last year, I became seriously unwell, took six months to heal and had three really painful surgeries. It isn’t a big problem if I’m unwell below my neck, it is a serious problem if I’m unwell above it. Not boasting, but I think everything happens for a good reason. When I was on my bed, my whole big family came to see me and it was fun talking to everybody I had been ignoring because of my studies. Honestly, I celebrated it and connected back with people I wouldn’t have if I weren’t on the bed.

Everyone has issues and we must learn to explore and deal with them with everything that is beautiful within oneself.

– From a curvy girl

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Image Source: John and Melanie (Illingworth) Kotsopoulos/ Flickr
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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
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