my very own Fat Shaming

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I am not going to talk about how it felt seeing all the normal kids in my class, which made me seem shoddy and defective, nor am I going to compare myself to the supposed “Skinny” girls. This is not a gender specific issue, it is gender neutral, it happens to everyone, and this is just my account of how insensitive people can be, even the ones who mean well.

I have dealt with being over weight for more than a decade now. And the comments people make, even though they have been made a hundred times before, still hurts. A lot.

I wasn’t always fat. I was actually a very active kid, with a healthy body. But after the age of 8 I started putting on weight and even now, when I am 20, I am still struggling to lose weight. It keeps fluctuating, and even though I come under the normal category some times in the BMI, I am still a target to their fat joke practices.

They say I should have started exercise at that time. But I was barely 10, and do you seriously expect a kid to spend her time worrying about exercise and diet? I still remember my mom snatching packets of chips from my arms so that I don’t over eat.

But recently, it feels like that’s all anyone ever talks about. Maybe they feel it is necessary to remind me that I am fat, like its something I may have missed. I am reminded of it everyday, every time I see myself in the mirror.

And what’s worse is, they make fat jokes. Sure I laugh along because I don’t want to be the girl who is over sensitive, I want to the cool one who doesn’t care what others think. But it still hurts nonetheless. People, especially close friends and family, anything and everything serious I have to say is negated by the fact that I am fat.

Fat shaming isn’t helping me. I eat when I am stressed, and fat shaming makes me stressed about my appearance. Any attempt to fitness is again ridiculed by people. Are you sure you won’t end up eating everything in the fridge? Be careful, you don’t want the treadmill to break! Haha… So very hilarious. Not.

The idea and the concept of fat shaming is so deeply ingrained that I do it to myself sometimes. Every time I make a fat joke about me, I hate myself, but I can’t help it. Its so deeply ingrained, its almost like I am an emotional cutter. Make jokes about yourself before people do it, it will hurt less that way. But am I not leading them by example by making a mockery out of my own body?

Yes, people will tell me that what others think won’t matter. There are a lot of articles, posts and other media out there which talk about being comfortable in your own skin, being confident. Sure, I would love to be confident about my weight and my physical appearance. And trust me, I am trying. It is not difficult to get over a decade’s worth of insults, doubts about self worth and utter hopelessness that I have felt.

I know this is not the last time that some one will make an insensitive joke about my weight, there will be some other smart ass out there who will think it cool to make fun of something that I have been battling for years.

But I can’t just give up now, can I?

Hypocrisy of Change.

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Ignoring the danger of sounding philosophical and making my readers close the page, I would like to start off with a quote that Mahatma Gandhi shared with the world: “Be the change you want to see”.

Taking this quote to heart, I started out with a noble quest in my head, of trying to organize a big national level event in our college which would enable all those who participated in it to go back with enlightened minds (at least as enlightened as 20 year olds get).

But something that nobody tells you about change is that how much people only talk about it and never do anything. It is how people work. They become lackadaisical about their attitude and thus try to avoid change. Why go with something new when we can do nothing and sit here complaining about how we have nothing to do?

Well, I didn’t know about it when I started. So when the words, the rumours that were being circulated about me being too aggressive and always getting my way started, it felt like a whiplash. This is what we (a bunch of people who wanted to make something out of our time in college, make something worth remembering college) get for even trying.

The alternative was follow the routine prescribed, not think outside the box, and definitely not even think about improving something, because God forbid if it actually worked…..

In the end, we got to go ahead with the plans for our event, based on certain conditions. But I see their faces everyday, those who opposed me vehemently. It’s like they want us to fail, want it to not work out so that they can say a big fat “I told you so.!!” This evokes a mixture of fright and fighting spirit, but a doubt will always be there, what if none of this gives fruit and they are right. That I wasn’t capable of bringing about such a huge change. I hope I will be content with the fact that I would have at least tried to bring in change while others are too deeply entrenched in their humdrum existence.

And if trying to work for something bigger and trying to get it done means I will be labeled headstrong, then so be it.

Scattered Thoughts

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The past week has been a flurry of activities. A few college events here, some test papers there and a lot of tension in my head. Whether the proposed change for a new format in some competition will be accepted or the result of a much anxiously awaited moot court competition will be in our favor are thoughts that are constantly running in my head.

Writing was something that I did when my thoughts were clear, composed and organised. Right now they seem all scattered. The same is the case with my paintings. I haven’t painted in a almost a year. And pardon my french, but that just sucks. Things that I would have loved to do have become chores and in an unexpected way I have come to feel miserable in the life that I so carefully chose for myself.

Let me rewind all the way back to the start of this semester. High on the success of publishing a paper with a close friend and over-estimating my ability to work hard, I signed up. For almost everything that came my way. A moot, check; a post to be a debate secretary, check; opportunity to be an editor, double check; help out in random other college seminars and conferences, need you even ask? I was present every where, trying to do everything.

The reason I was trying to do all  this? Success. A Law school can be a pretty competitive place, and I wanted to do the best everywhere, get the most experience, have the most amazing CV. But I guess, in an attempt to increase the quantity of my activities, I have compromised the quality of work that I am doing. I underestimated the amount of work and involvement necessary for each task and that has come to bite me in the ass more times than I can remember now. For a girl who prided herself on being a “strong, independent woman” who could handle anything thrown her way, I have come to be a person who constantly goes to friends to help her out with work at the last minute because I can’t manage to meet the deadline.

Like an ignorant fool I have refused the advice of a close friend time and again. I should have known the outcome of this experiment before I even started it. I mean, seriously, for a girl who has read and watched Harry Potter innumerable times, I should have known how Hermione’s tryst with the time turner to work hard ended.

As a result I was always tired. My breaks from work would consist of me doing some other work. Even worse, I lost all interest in the work that I genuinely cared about. Thankfully, I have learnt my lesson. From now on, I aim to concentrate only on that which is important to me. Quality over quantity is what I should aim for and not be sucked in to the “fill your resume” parade.

(And just like that, my scattered thoughts came back to me, in an organised way. What they say is true, writing does clear the mind)

A Thank You Note to Cancer

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Hi,

You may not remember me. I am just a small inconsequential back up character to your main story. Which is understandable. You are the protagonist, who makes the whole world talk about you. Everyone always gives you their utmost attention, ponders over your visit, learns how to manage every month with the added expense of tending to you. Yes, you, I am talking to you, Cancer. 

Since the past year and a half you tried to wreak havoc in my family. It started with my nani (Hindi for grandma). She never hurt anyone. She never wished anything bad to happen to others. As far as I know, she was a very live and let live kind of a person. But you couldn’t bear that, could you? You had to come visit her. Scare her. And the way you did it was awesome too. Catch her when she least expected it. When all of us were out on a family holiday, where you assumed we wouldn’t notice it among the fun and frolic. 

It was an earth shattering moment when we realized that she was battling cervical cancer. Mom tried to be strong for all of us. Taking care of nani, accompanying her to her weekly visits to the hospital. Sitting by her side, giving her words of encouragement. It was a strange transformation, for the daughter to take on the caring role of a mother, to her very own mother, no less. Mom would cry, yes, but never let anybody else see. Because if she lost hope, all of us would. Funny how a supposedly strong unit like our family would keep an appearance of normalcy based on my mom’s hopeful stance.

Dad was the epitome of a rock during this tough time. Never complaining, making light of what has occurred and giving unflinching support, monetarily and emotionally. Never did he compromise on anything. Never did he cut down on the growing expenses rendered by his two kids, never told us no. That would have been tough, very tough. He just set his jaw, went about his way and provided for the family. 

My brother was still a teenager when this happened. He never talked about it to any of us. Never made it seem like it was a big deal. But he started acting out in other ways. He started cutting classes and lying about it. It wasn’t like he was going out to party. He would climb up to the roof and lay there watching the sky for hours together. He lost interest in studying or anything related to academics. He seemed to prefer the make believe world of anime rather than the real one. 

I was living in another city when this happened, pursuing my academics. I was surprised at my reaction. I didn’t feel sad nor angry. I just felt something cold placed upon my chest, unwilling to move. I refused to talk to my friends about it. Nor read up on it. Ignorance is bliss is the route that I followed. I am ashamed of that. I threw myself into work. I called nani, but it was only for a few minutes. It was very weird. I had so much to say to her, to encourage her. But every time I called her, all that would die at my lips and the only words which came out were the cursory greetings, asking her how she was. I sounded like this cold, distant person who didn’t care about anyone.

Thankfully, a year’s chemotherapy and other assorted medical treatments later, you have gone away from our lives. Nani still has to have regular check ups, always on the look out, always trying to be one step ahead of you. But the fact remains that she has survived you, outsmarted you this time. 

But this letter is not to blame you, this letter is to thank you. Thank you for affecting our family. Usually when you read the stories of cancer survivors, it always focuses on the patient. But in reality, the whole family is the patient. Recovering together, taking all the blows together, being there for each other. Always. You made us realize how fleeting life is and how small things don’t matter. You brought us together, even though it wasn’t in the way I would ever think possible. It made me revel in the sense of closeness that a family lends you. The support and the shoulder to cry on. My family grew as a whole because of you.

Although you were some sort of twisted good luck to our family and you in your rash unreasonable generosity thought better than to take nani’s life, I would never wish you upon anyone. It took all of us a lot of strength to overcome you, and sometimes it almost tore our family apart. Its a very strong almost, and no one should be affected by that kind of almost. 

Regards,

A Cancer Survivor.

 

 

PERSPECTIVE

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Hey guys, it has been a long time. A very long time since I have written my last post and a long time since I have even thought about writing one. The usual excuses would be that life caught up with me, I never really had the time or something along those lines. But instead of explaining why I haven’t written in quite a while, I will let you know why I am writing now, after so long.

Everyone has this moment in life. Where you question the meaning of life. Where you question which direction you are going in. Where you question if life is sucky as a student, will it really change when you go out into the “real” world. I am now in my third year of law school and had this feeling just before I started my year.

Getting no answer to any of these questions, I turned to the person who I have personally known to withstand all difficulties and still find the strength to smile and help others – my mom. She, in all her wisdom (which also includes smacking me on the head when she feels I am on my bad behaviour) told me that it was all in my head. That I was over thinking all this and making a mountain out of a molehill.

Doing nothing all the time is not my cup of tea. Having an agenda, an every day to-do list gives me a purpose in life. I feel so lost without these tools in my life. But the monotonous way my life was going before that, no work, no study pressure, no moots to obsess over, no inspiration to paint or draw put me in a very bad state. So I subconsciously took my mom’s advice and started doing something for myself. Taking up all sorts of opportunities that came my way. I was chosen as a part of the Editorial Board for an environmental law journal, am a part of organizing a lively debate club in my college every week. Not only this, I am also working on two simultaneous moot court competitions. All this at the same time. Not to mention try to cope with all the classes.

Thinking back upon it, maybe my mom was right. Maybe I was making a big deal about the not having to do anything. Because, I panicked and I took up all this work. Now I will always be doubtful about how I have performed. Whether I have given my best to all this? Could I have done better? There will always be a doubt. This post was to help me clear out my head, stand back and get a perspective again.

This whole situation reminds me of the scene in Kung Fu Panda, where Master Oogway says, “There is just news. There is no good or bad.” That quote has a zen-like feel to it. Maybe my state of being was never bad or good. It was just how I looked at it.