For a woman who has battled with body image issues all her life, I can tell you one thing, my happiness is intrinsically linked with my body weight. Whoever propagated the notion that fat people are happier got it all wrong.
I am Fat. Okay, fine. I am over weight. I am chubby. Still on the good side of chubby, at least. I love eating nachos with Greek dip. I prefer my chaklis with schezwan sauce. I like my penne arrabiata with an extra sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Though, pizzas, samosas and doughnuts are still a complete no-no for me. The heart of the matter is that nothing in the world is as comforting as a big bowl of caramel popcorn or a large helping of freshly cooked and strongly spiced Maggi. Nothing.
And, that’s the problem. Unlike people who eat kilos of food on a daily basis and still are as thin as wafers, my metabolism works differently. My body is very generous. It puts on weight even if I eat 10 chips one afternoon. Not kidding.
So, now, I have these curves and you know, for the first time in my life I feel it is okay. It’s okay if I’m like this. The tiny tummy that hides beneath all that layering cushions my cats when they sleep on me on lazy afternoons. The otherwise ugly love handles make my hugs a little softer and warmer. Pulling my cheeks is an addictive activity now.
When I enter a large gathering or a social function, I’m not worried about attracting unnecessary attention. Because the honey bees flock around the sugar and not the dough. The pressure to be constantly well-behaved, well-dressed and drop dead gorgeous instantly vanishes. But don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel ugly. I love the way I am.
According to one of my girlfriends, men are instinctively attracted to skinny women and they opt for the chubby attractive ones as a second option. Of course, I blatantly denied that claim. I wondered does it even matter. Honestly, looks are just half the game. Do I have to look my best for others to see? Or do I have to look my best to feel good about myself? Or are both inter-linked?
I yo-yoed from obese to model thin to acceptably healthy. I crash dieted, starved, and followed a nutritious diet and healthy exercise regime. I tried everything in the books until I found peace with myself. I wanted to know that I can be the industry-standard pretty that I keep ogling at in the glossies. I could. But did I want to be that? Men were circling me like vultures circling a dead carcass. But did I want that kind of attention?
I don’t know. My journey from a waist of 38 to 24 and then back to 32 has taught me a lot. I remember that day when my sister made me stand in front of a mirror. I was barely clothed and she made me count my ribs. She asked me, “Is this what you want to become?” That was when I admitted to myself that I was on the verge of anorexia nervosa. I snapped out of it but it was still a struggle. Thankfully, bulimia never crossed my corridors. Barfing is seriously disgusting!
I was struggling with my weighty issues for all the wrong reasons. However, shedding all those layers of fat made me shed some thick layers of inhibition that were hiding me from myself. I met me. My world opened up and now, I no longer cared how thin I was. Though, I admit, I crib about my weight more often than not but that’s a reflex. It doesn't stop. Ask any person who was obese at any point in their lives. You never want to go back there!
Next week, I’m joining a weight loss health program at a local gym. This time my intentions are clear. I want to feel good about myself. That feeling you get after running 7 km on the treadmill, that rush you feel after cycling for 10 km, the burst of energy you feel even after climbing 10 floors… When you get up in the morning and your body doesn't ache. When you breathe deeply and feel as fresh as a flower… I want to lose weight for that.
Looks don’t last forever. You may be as waif like as Kate Moss or as pretty as Natalie Portman but that’s only for now. As we grow older, the wrinkles will set in and you might not be the same.
Look in the mirror. Look at yourself as if you are your lover. Be shameless. Don’t be shy. Count your birthmarks. Notice that dark patch you got on your left thigh after you hit a table last evening. See how your hair tumbles down on your shoulders when you leave it open.
You don’t need anyone else’s approval except yours. If you love yourself then the world will love you.
P.S: I love Mindy Kaling.