The Indelible Mark of Body Shaming
5 minute read, Written By: Momly
Body image issues are for real. It can have a devastating impact when these issues are thrust/inflicted upon us by our people. These people are the ones we have grown up with – cousins, aunts, uncles, friends and sometimes our parents and siblings, making them more hurtful and damaging. When one faces body image issues, it is the self-image that gets hurt in the process. Our self-image is the image we have about ourselves. We start to look through the lens of others which is coloured with their perspectives about us. This triggers mental stress and anxiety and becomes a big factor in affecting our self-esteem and overall well-being
This story is about Greeshma who faced body shaming all through her life and a distorted view of her body inflicted by society, leaving an indelible mark. We are keeping it raw with no filter because how else you will get to hear the original voice? Let’s listen and empathise and make the world aware of the brutal reality of body shaming.
My Body Image through Other’s Lens
All my life I've been lean.
With each passing stage of my life, everyone around me told me that I'd get fatter in the next.
When I was a kid people around me told me that I'd gain some weight after I reached puberty, when that didn't happen it was after I finished school and stopped sports, then after I lived on my own and cooked for myself. This went on till it reached where people said I'll gain weight after I get married. When that too didn't happen they said I'd gain when I become pregnant and receive the postpartum care.
Finally, I gained around 14-15kgs during my pregnancy. But my hands and legs stayed as skinny as usual with just a little swelling. The only weight gain I had was my baby bump and my baby's weight, much to the dismay of the people around me. Mind you that even though I'm so skinny I've been pretty much in good health and very sporty and active throughout my life. And I love to eat lovely stuff!
Throughout my pregnancy I had so many unwanted and hurtful statements thrown at me like "Oh! You're so thin! How will you carry your baby? ", "Are you sure you can handle being pregnant?" and so much more.
Somehow, with the help of my family and friends, I pushed through all those negative comments.
But once I had my baby, I started going back to my pre-pregnancy weight pretty quickly. Everyone who came to visit us started pointing it out to me too.
Ever since I've grown up hearing the "you're so thin!", " You look like a school kid " All my life' it has never bothered me much. But that changed drastically after I became a mom.
Whenever we go out for walks in our community with my daughter random people stop to play with her. And then when they find out I'm the mother they are shocked and start saying "No that can't be, this doesn't look like your daughter!", "You look so thin!", " You look like a college kid".
Earlier when it used to be just me, I could easily brush off such comments about my body. But not anymore. When random people tell you your daughter doesn't look like she's yours just because you're thin, it hurts.
When I tell this to some family members, they tell me to take it in good stride. I'm a "santoor mommy" but I don't find it funny.
This distorted view of our society that only if you look a certain way will you fit into that role needs to change.
Just Because I'm thin doesn't mean I'm sick or "my family is starving me" (as I used to hear when I was a kid from many family friends, random shopkeepers and people at gatherings).
The Earnest Request
Next time, you see a mom, rather than commenting on her body, try to ask her how she is doing.
Ask her if she needs anything and try to help if you can.
Give her a listening ear when is pouring her emotions.
Keep your chin up. You're loved! Your body doesn't define who you are. And it doesn't define the beautiful bond between you and your baby.
May these emotional outpourings of Greeshma be an eye-opener for many such folks who treat women’s bodies as an object to be talked about and judged upon. Let people be more aware of the language and the words they choose when talking to others. Let’s collectively raise our voices to call out body shamers so that your mom next door feels safe and nurtured. By challenging negative body image messages and celebrating diversity, we can, by all means, plant tiny seeds of body positivity in everyone’s minds, that in the long run would grow a perception that embraces an inclusive and compassionate world.