A large number of us Indians (especially we Punjabis) obsess over gora chitta rang (light skin), tekhe nain naksh (sharp features), and patla lak (lean hip). A stereotypically good looking girl would be all of this.
When I was young and I speak of when I was as young as a toddler, a few of my relatives could foresee I was going to be none of this. My cousins would grow up to be pretty swans when I was a “fat” and ugly duck in the making.
While both my parents took pride in the fact that I was a bright child, at some point they’d succumb to the pressure of the social norms.
During my teens, my mother would slather a paste of chickpea flour on my face, or put freshly ground neem leaves on my acne. She would hint the need to exercise and avoid certain foods.
An undue pressure of looking a certain way was pressed into my psyche. As a teen, I had a highly volatile and excessively critical relationship with myself. As I grew older, I was able to gather my thoughts and understand that my family’s behaviour was a product of oppression they have built within themselves.
With a shift in my thought process, with the right kind of people walking in to my life, with support from my sibling and with oodles of focus I was able to leave my baffled and vexed self behind.
But the truth of the matter is, a lot of us are unhappy about how we look and where these thoughts stem from is secondary. According to a survey I recently read, approximately 91% of women are unhappy with the way they look, and 40 % of them would consider going under the knife in the future.
You must have heard the term “body positivity” floating around the world of media and internet lately. What does it mean? How ready are we to make it a part of our lives?
Body positivity to me, means unlearning the idea that there exists a certain body type that is perfect and worthy of praise. Instead all kinds and shapes of bodies are equally beautiful.
It is a process that begins with you and leads to the world. You first accept that only you can decide what is healthy for you. You make a choice to live in your beautiful body irrespective of the prejudice of others. And then you walk towards a system where no one’s body is ever targeted.
Is that even practical?
That sounded so easy dint it? Yeah, just accept your body and love it, ta da!
Come on! We are all humans, we are likely to get affected by the world around us.
Isn’t it absolutely normal to have bad days, days when we have negative thoughts about our body? But I think beating ourselves over it only makes it worse. All you can do at such times is be kind to yourself. Don’t hang in there and wait for that feeling to eat you up.
Does Body positivity Encourage Obesity ?
Ask a woman who has been called boney/ anorexic/ or the classic – bombil ( Bombay duck ). I have often heard and read comments like – “body positivity is for plus size women”, “it’s an excuse for not working out”, “it’s fat acceptance”
To me body positivity is embracing a body no matter what size it is. And more significantly applying this principle to not just your own but to everyone’s around you.
The internet is full of fit people talking about how you should follow their diets and workout plans to achieve a body like theirs. Let’s face it, our bodies are different, not everyone’s body responds to a regime or a diet in the same fashion.
Body positivity definitely does not promote obesity. I am not sure if that can be promoted though. It’s living joyfully in your body right now without delaying your happiness because of how you look.
Accepting their bodies can never encourage people to be unhealthy; acceptance only gives an opportunity to cast off those constant negative jibes. It offers a space where people are allowed to be comfortable in their own skin, and begin to work from there – whether that means losing weight, gaining strength, building muscle, maintaining the same shape or changing it.
Being positive about my body has opened my mind up to think of other beautiful aspects about me that are not external or physical in nature. So instead of spending time thinking of the size of my thighs, I am thinking about my friends and family, skills I’d like to acquire, knowledge I’d like to gain.
Body Positivity Is Meant To Kick Body Shaming In The Butt
Body positivity, as mentioned earlier is all inclusive. It’s for everyone irrespective of size and gender. It’s not “only my body positivity” not even “my body is positive over others”. The idea is not to feel positive about your body by shaming the “skinny bitches”.
Body shaming is never acceptable, not even in response to a comment targeted towards one’s body.
The first step towards being “body positive” is to realise the need for it
I have had a problem and accepting it has been the first step towards recovery. At the gym if I saw a fit woman working out I’d be in awe of her dedication and on the other hand if I saw a not-so-thin woman working out I’d wonder where she’d reach. What I’d think when I saw a “thin” woman eating a cheesy pizza was very different from what I thought when I saw a “thick” woman eating pizza. I had a problem, I wasn’t only judging my own body but every one else’s too
Don’t be afraid to sit back and think, if your instinctive reaction of people is based on their shape and size, there is a problem. Over a period of time our mind gets conditioned to think this way, but we alone have the capacity to change it.
The bottom line is – the time to respect your own body and the time to offer the respect you’d like to receive to others is NOW. Being kind and empathetic is a perfect start.
Body positivity for me has been to accept and love my own body the way it is and work towards making it stronger (mind you, not thinner)