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.
“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.”
“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.”
“You are so black. And all these pimples….13…14…15”
“Don’t count them! I can’t help them.”
“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.”
“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.”
“Put your shoulders in a bit.”
“Why? That’s bad posture.”
“A decent woman doesn’t put her bust out to the world.”
“You walk with your boobs thrust out. It’s like carrying a signboard that says ‘I’m easy’.”
“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.”
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.”
“What are those things on your legs?”
“My knees are like that!”
“They look funny. People like you should not wear tights.”
“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.”
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.”
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.