Trigger warning: Body shaming
Dear Reader! This is a personal story about accepting my imperfect body.
I have never liked posing for pictures of myself. I feel self-conscious, judged and sometimes downright afraid of the end result.
Truth be told, I don’t fit into the socially acceptable mould of “beauty”. I am short and have been fat for nearly half of my thirty years of life. Though my weight has yo-yoed during this time, it’s always been on the wrong side of the scale. However, before you pity me, I should clarify that I am the kind of fat that people call “cute” or “bubbly”, and I could build a mansion in Mumbai if I got a rupee for every time people have said to me, “just lose some weight and guys will line up to marry you”. Nobody ever asked me if I wanted guys to “line up” for me, that part is just assumed.
To get back to my main point, over the years I’ve somewhat accepted my body. That doesn’t mean I haven’t tried every diet known to mankind, but I have accepted my “flaws” to the extent that I do sometimes look in the mirror and think I look nice. I’ve even tricked my mind into portraying myself as a confident plus-size girl.
Though all that confidence goes out of the window each time I pose for a picture. The “me” in the picture never looks like the “me” I see in the mirror. Even when others tell me I look beautiful in a picture, all I can see are the flaws. All I ever see is an ugly girl, with big boobs, a bulging stomach, thighs the size of China and arms the size of Russia. All I see is the ugly duckling amongst the pretty swans.
This feeling of ugliness has stopped me from posing in pictures on a number of occasions. From school farewells to weddings and birthdays, I have been to so many events for which I have no pictorial evidence. In some cases, I have pictures of others from the events, but none of my own.
The worst is when I do have pictures of myself, but because I dislike the way I look in them I end up deleting these pictures instantly, even going to the extent of snatching cameras/mobiles from others to delete my “ugly” pictures. There are also instances where I have travelled to places and just taken pictures of monuments, without me in them, these pictures might as well have been taken off Google Images.
There have been times when I have regretted this because months/years later I have no pictures to look back at that would take me down memory lane. As our memories fade, pictures are what bring us back to the good times from the past. Remember the thrill of watching a video or seeing a photo of you from a few years back? Well, for me that thrill is almost non-existent.
Another reason I regret posing for such fewer pictures is a funny unexplainable thing. When I do look back days or weeks later at the same few pictures of myself that I have taken, I don’t really see so many flaws. Yes, some of the pictures are truly ugly. I mean everyone has those weirdly angled unflattering pictures of themselves, but in most others, I see some of my original “not that bad looking” self. I see the girl from the mirror!
Which brings me to the question, why do I have this “ugly duckling disorder?” (PS: it’s not actually a thing; it’s just what I’m calling it). Why do I momentarily lose all my confidence and only focus on the negatives so much that it overshadows the positive in me? Why don’t I believe people when they tell me that I look nice? Is it because I don’t fit into society’s
definition of beautiful or is it because I pull a veil of ignorance over my face regarding my shortcomings?
Now please don’t go into an advice-giving mode on how I should love and accept my body, because as I said before, I may not love it but I have accepted my body. Worse, please don’t lecture me on how and why I should lose weight; I get enough of that from my mother.
I just need to find a way to love the “me” that appears in photos. Now that I have realised that my “disorder” is temporary, I have started forcing myself not to delete pictures straight away. It hasn’t been easy for sure, but I do have a few more pictures of myself now and hopefully will start accepting all forms of “me” soon. Work in progress!