Abey sun! ghar me khana nahi milta kya? Mandir se maang kar khaa liya kar (Don’t you get food at home? You should go beg at the temple to get something to eat).
I was in middle school back then. Nobody could’ve expected me to oppose or retaliate back. Body shaming is common in schools. I thought that it’s their right to tell me that I am skinny because they aren’t. I had been experiencing this since the day I can recollect my conscience. No matter wherever I went, there were people laughing at me and constantly telling me how ugly I look because I was skinny. I received critical comments on my body shape and size. Initially, these things never affected me much as a kid, but ended up making me an introvert later on.
Everything starts when you are a kid. Your childhood moulds what you would become as an adult. If good values are incorporated in you in this stage, a better human is created. I, too, was a simple kid with simple goals like studying and making my father proud. Being by myself interested me so much that I didn’t care enough to connect with people and society or make friends. Everything changed when I reached high school.
The day I shifted from junior high to high school, it became much more than only studies. I wanted to make friends. I was no longer a child, but a boy who wanted his tribe to accept him. It was usual for me to meet new people in my school and try to befriend them. But each and every time I went near somebody, they’d laugh at me. I kept trying harder and harder to get accepted, to get people to love me, but only got mocked in return. Body shaming was the root of my teenage problems – constant bullying, a desperate urge to impress girls, and failing miserably at that – you name it. I have been through it all. But my story is not as simple as it sounds. It can’t be contained in those four phrases.
When you come to high school, you face quite a few problems. I can’t tell you how to deal with those adversities. I can just tell you what I did, and advise you to not do that ever, no matter what phase of life you’re in.
As time passed, an unknown and unexplainable urge to become cool and get invited to fun parties took over my mind. I tried to reach out to more people. I felt like talking to them but only received sarcastic comments upon myself in return. I laughed at their jokes. I pretended it was okay. I pretended I was okay. But I wasn’t. It hurts every time when somebody comments on my body type.
I was born this way; thin, to be exact. I didn’t choose to be like this neither did I made myself like this. So, why were people commenting and taunting me for it? I never had an answer to this, so I did what I thought was the best method to counter these problems – I let my guard up. I stopped socialising. The introvert inside me gained control of my heart and my mind. Each night, I would think of making friends who would stay with me through my thick and thin. But each day, I thought of staying away from people as much as possible. I started hating my body for multiple reasons – being thin, short in height, and not being ‘lovely’ enough. I had negative thoughts about my body. I lost my confidence at the earliest stage of my life.
With each and every passing year, the adolescent hormones inside my body started boiling up. I was still an introvert, but I decided to not be silent anymore. I began mocking people like hell. In the beginning, I felt like I was feeling happy. People no longer dared to make fun of me. I made a name for myself at school. I was the boy who could thrash anybody up. I smiled, I laughed, and I grinned, but I wasn’t happy.
Deep down, I was a still a kid who was desperately searching for friends. This rough high school life was spoiling my life. I was confused between the balance of education and fun. The student inside me wanted to study, and cram books, while the teen inside me wanted to break free and “have fun”. I lost control of my morale. I went from being friends with my female classmates to literally harassing them. I still regret doing that. What was once an urge to impress my crush and have a girlfriend now became an attitude that never gave a shit about their self-respect. Nobody wanted to talk to me. My classmates stopped sitting with me in the classroom. I was funny, but still a lonely wimpy kid. I had lost my emotions. These incidents made me put my guard up furthermore.
I continued trying to impress everybody and make friends. I no longer understand why I did that. I was desperately searching for affirmation from someone else who would tell me that I am beautiful. And in that quest to find affirmation, I lost my own validation and self-worth. I forgot that there are people out there who’ll love you for who you are, not for what you could’ve been.
So how did I changed this? Actually, I didn’t. I did absolutely nothing. That’s the fun part of what I’ve been telling you for the past few minutes. I sat there lonely, whining about my “sed lyf”. All the real work that was done, was by a few people who came in my life and stayed. A few people whom I proudly call my friends. A few people who made me let my guard down. I learned the ultimate truth about friendship then. It is – and you must remember this all your life – the more you’ll try to get accepted and be loved, the more you’ll get rejected and depreciated. Instead, just be natural, and behave like yourself. You can’t find love, love finds you.
True friends change you a lot. They make you what you weren’t and what you thought you could never be. I am still an antisocial, awkward, and geeky introvert. But there are people out there who love me for who I am. There are people out there who understand and appreciate a nerd like me. I write awesome poetry, by the way. I’ve been published too, but only on my best friend’s Instagram, as a dedication to his girlfriend(s).
I feel proud calling them my friends. I know they will stay with me until the end of the line. How they changed me is a crucial phase of my life. They taught me about self-respect, sharing and caring. I feel very proud of myself, and it was only my friends, who taught me that.
Meanwhile, I still face a lot of body shaming. But that doesn’t really affect me anymore. I have learned to ignore it and be happy with myself. My body shape and size is not a punch line for their jokes. I could still make their jokes end on a high note, if only I wanted to but I don’t because it would make me just like them.
People mock you because they can’t match your level. And they come in every form possible – from fake friends to “fake rishtedaars”. You have to be aware of them and their mental tantrums. All my Chachas, Chachis, Taus, and Tais, still thrash me because I couldn’t even score “at least nabbe (90) percent” in my class 12th. Ironically, all of them have failed “at least nabbe baar” in their matric examinations.
I felt compassion towards people who bullied me. When I got close enough I was surprised by what I got to know about them. Actually, they also have problems and faults that they don’t want to accept. That’s why they point out faults in others; to prove to themselves that they are good enough.
The point is, anybody could be a victim of body shaming, no matter how perfect you think you are. We all have our flaws, and sadly, we all have a tendency to point those out to others. We are born with a single body. It’s biological and it’s in our genes. Nobody could change that. I still remember when I was in high school, how I read more and more about being an ectomorph/a hard gainer. But the more I read about it, the more I realized that I couldn’t do anything about it. It’s all biological and I should stop caring about this. It’s perfectly fine if I am thin, or I have a lower lip of the size of an African elephant. Nobody has the right to comment upon my body type.
True beauty comes from within – I realised this fact way after I was supposed to. With this, I left behind my need of impressing everybody. I stopped explaining my body size to others. I don’t feel the need to answer the most dreaded question of my life – “khana wana nahi khate ho kya? (don’t you eat food at all?)” anymore.
I am proud to have become physically more accepting of myself. Somebody else’s judgemental nature doesn’t affect me now.
The lesson I learned from these incidents is that we should stop body shaming, right now. We should try to make a more body-friendly environment. We should learn to respect others and accept ourselves. We should love everybody for what they are, and love ourselves for what we are. Isn’t that is what makes us human?
So that was my story. Not so much of inspiring, but definitely could give a lesson. I would love to hear yours too and know your take on body shaming. Experiences speak, and I listen to them. Feel free to comment down your thoughts on this topic, and if you liked my story, you could also tell me what touched you the most. Your criticism and praises are always required.