Body Image

She tells me about her struggle with weight, coming to terms with it. And she quotes another friend who said that she had to stop obsessing over it, to stop making it the be-all or she’d never be happy. I point out that I said the same thing, a year ago. She pauses and in equal measures of honesty, vulnerability and courage, says,

“You are….a slim person.”

I know the unspoken words, I can complete them in my own head. How then, do I explain, how do I prove to her, that I really do understand? Let me tell stories, instead.

~O~O~O~O~

Age 7

“Let’s play StarTrek. I’ll be captain. You be the pointy-ears guy.”

“Who’ll I be?”

“There’s only two women, one fair one and and one dark one.”

“I’ll be the fair one.”

“But…”

“Yes, you can be the fair one. Let her be the dark one. She’s quite black anyway.”

“I don’t want to be the dark one.”

“Fine, go away. No one wants the dark one, anyway.”

~O~O~O~O~

Age 22

“You are so black. And all these pimples….13…14…15”

“Don’t count them! I can’t help them.”

“17…18…19…”

“Please stop. Please, please, please stop.”

“I’ll won’t be seeing you for six weeks. Get your face cleaned up by then.”

Two hours later

“Bye, I’ll call you once I get settled in.”

“I brought you a little bye-bye gift.”

“Eraser face cream?”

“My dad recommends it to all his patients. Be sure to apply it every night. I want to see your pretty face without having to count those scars.”

~O~O~O~O~

Age 13

“You can’t wear that!”

“Why not? It’s a great print! I love tie-ups!”

“It hangs on you. Look, let me show you how it should look. You…you don’t have the figure for it.”

~O~O~O~O~

Age 18

“Put your shoulders in a bit.”

“Why? That’s bad posture.”

“A decent woman doesn’t put her bust out to the world.”

~O~O~O~O~

Age 23

“You walk with your boobs thrust out. It’s like carrying a signboard that says ‘I’m easy’.”

~O~O~O~O~

Age 23

“You’re ugly. The only reason a guy would be nice to you is because you look easy.”

“You are so ugly.”

“My friends don’t think you are hot. So I don’t want them to know about us. Don’t talk to me when they’re around.”

“Don’t hold my hand. I don’t want to be seen with a black girl.”

~O~O~O~O~

At every age

“No, madam, we don’t stock that size in ladies wear. Your feet are too big.”

“Why do you have to wear those ugly army boots? You just like to scare people, don’t you? They make you look like you have polio.”

~O~O~O~O~

Age 12

“What are those things on your legs?”

“My knees are like that!”

“They look funny. People like you should not wear tights.”

~O~O~O~O~

Age 16

“Where are you? I lost my friend!”

“Ha ha. It’s a loose kurta, okay? It’s comfortable.”

“You look like the pole inside a tent. Seriously, girls like you should not wear loose clothes.”

~O~O~O~O~

Age 16 onwards

“Madam can I show you something for those scars on your face?”

“Dark people should not wear red.”

“What are those marks on your upper arms (pointing to stretch marks)?”

“Open pores. Blackheads. Acne. You need help.”

“Is that hair on your back? Don’t you wax?

“Bags under your eyes.”

~O~O~O~O~

Red is my favorite colour.
Most of my garments are sleeveless.
I buy facepacks and lotions and scrubs. The skin stays mostly the same, give or take a few spots.
The knees are generally concealed in denims or attention is diverted away by a bold neckline.

No amount of exercise or dieting or bleaching or creaming is going to change my skin. Well…it holds my organs in. I try not to think about it. And I cover my thin skin with a thick attitude.

Yes, love, I do understand. Really.

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About IdeaSmith

IdeaSmith is the digital doppelganger of Ramya Pandyan (intrepid train-traveller and frequent spouter of post-midnight rhymes and rants). As IdeaSmith she battles obscurity and slays boredom with her stories about men, books, digitalia and Mumbai. She performs live and also blogs, tweets, Instagrams, Facebooks, +G’s, Youtubes and Goodreads all as IdeaSmith. Ramya is a blogger, digital storyteller and spoken word performer. She also runs a forum for aspiring writers called Alphabet Sambar. Tweet-bomb her at @ideasmithy.

Posted on July 15, 2010, in Hormone hangover, Times, they are a-changing, Vanity Unfair and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. 🙂 I know you do…

  2. I love this. I love every word of it. It goes to prove my belief that men (and shockingly women too!) are out to decide what people should wear or not.
    Wrote something similar in this post :

    http://www.outlandishmusings.com/2010/05/why-dont-you-cover-up-bit.html

    This is esp. true in the current age where covering up and showing skin are matters of political concern!!

    • @Rehab: I remember reading your post and now that you mention it, I realize it was one of the factors that contributed to my wanting to write this post. Well-done and thank you!

  3. Great post 🙂 I had written something slightly in context with what you have written here- about women having to wax, look beautiful and slim all the time and men can be as hairy or ugly as they want to be. Then again, who’s to decide what ugly is?

    And beauty is only skin deep.
    .-= Anu´s last blog ..Hola! =-.

  4. http://anubha-bhat.blogspot.com/2010/03/fairer-sex.html – This is the post I was talking about 🙂
    .-= Anu´s last blog ..Hola! =-.

  5. You write with a strength to openly show your vulnerability. Its touching to read it, as well as you sound like you have maturely grown out of it. I love your writing and the content. Touching upon one of the most sensitive things women are thinking about all the time.

    • @Sneha: Thank you very much, for your mail and for the comment! Maturity is an ongoing process, isn’t it? I don’t know if I’ve grown out of those experiences. It feels like every time I take out those memories and examine them, there’s something new I discover. It’s a personally gratifying thing though, to be able to share those thoughts and know there are people who understand and empathize.

  1. Pingback: Size Zero Is About Self-Esteem, Not Body Measurements « XX Factor

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