Have you ever walked into a shop and been directed straight to that part of the store which bears size: ‘XL’ clothes? At family functions, have you ever been told that if you lost just a few inches, the dress you’re wearing will fit you better? Have your friends, relatives, or even your own parents given you free weight loss tips? I guess I’m asking you if you’ve ever been fat shamed.
As a child, I always wondered what part of my body is so unlovable? I searched for the parts of me that everyone tried to fix; they said I was ‘big’, ‘healthy’ but some said I was ‘too curvy’. I was labelled the ‘fat’ kid before I even knew why that was bad, because all I saw in the mirror was a chubby child with innocent eyes that just wanted to be happy.
The one place we all expect to be safe is our home, but for me that was so not the case.
I was having the perfect day. I just woke up from one of the greatest naps and I was on my way to heat my cinnamon roll and make myself some coffee. As I began to heat the soft and fluffy cinnamon bun, covered in buttery cream cheese frosting, I heard the peppered voice of my dad say “Are you sure you’re going to eat the whole thing?” followed by “Why don’t you just eat half? ”
A cinnamon roll never tasted the same again and that buttery frosting was just sour now. I was tired of feeling that every morsel I ate was turning into fat, when all I was supposed to feel at 10 years old was that eating food was as normal as breathing.
As these thoughts raced through my head, I was beating my coffee. When I lifted the sugar container up from the kitchen cabinet, my mom stared at my arms and said, “Those couldn’t get heavier than that, could they?” The hall broke out in a chuckle and maybe I didn’t understand the joke because all I felt at that time was my family looked at me in ways I never imagined they could. I left my coffee and cinnamon roll untouched. I ran outside because the only sweet I was craving was my sanity.
I slammed the door shut and paced outside, stomping my feet. My hair was all over and my face all flushed. The cool December wind made me realise my face was wet with tears that I didn’t realise I had wept.
I didn’t feel safe, I did not feel appreciated. They never understood how it made me feel, I thought. It felt like everything about me had just turned ugly. I hated the way cloth touched my skin now as I stormed to the other end of my colony.
Even when my head was cluttered by words uttered by my mother, I knew that there was one place where I would always receive the love I deserved. This place where I felt so safe was none other than Asmi’s house. She had been my best friend since we were four. She had seen me grow and not once did she make me feel like I was different from any other girl our age.
Before I knew it, my brain had taken me to Asmi’s home- the door held ajar. I was not in a state to be seen so I didn’t go inside. I understood from the faint Desi-Pop music that she was already occupied with guests inside so I rang the doorbell and stepped behind.
Asmi came scampering to the door, her face blushing- it was probably make-up. She seemed happy reeking of the smell of pizza, potato wedges and you know, basic party stuff.
“Urvashi! Hi, what's up? What are you doing here?”, she asked.
“Asmi, is it alright if I come inside? Today I have had a lot to deal with.” I replied.
“Yeah, of course. You can go upstairs. Everyone’s there.” she said pointing to the several pairs of shoes scattered at the entrance.
She acknowledged the confused expression on my face with a giggle.
“My mother is launching a collection of ball gowns and I pleaded with her to let the girls and I see them before they’re on the market. She had us try them on and take pictures for the marketing. That’s all.”, she explained.
“Why didn’t you call me?”, I questioned. I stopped in my tracks, a few stairs before the entrance of her bedroom. The music got louder, the closer I went to the door.
“Urvashi, the dresses aren’t really your type. I know you, you will hate them.”, she explained. This time she was slightly annoyed that the confusion on my face hadn’t gone away. At the start, I had looked curious but after she said that, I only felt furious.
“Urvashi, don’t be mad babe. You know how much we love you. Plus, it’s not that big of a deal.”
“You could have at least mentioned and I would have probably come over and decided if I wanted the pictures or not.”
I think I raised my voice to be heard over the music but I was a little mad as well.
“Urvashi, it’s not like my mother could post you. Fa-... well girls like you don’t make front covers. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against you. We were only going for what will get us maximum publicity and if you still feel like I am wrong, knock yourself out. Oh, and please don’t stretch the fabric too much.”
Shocking. Isn’t it? She said something that to me like it was customary, we argued for a few minutes after that. I was obviously too ashamed to go inside now so I went out into the cold wind. I went outside to be with myself. I knew I was the only person that I would be safe with.
There comes a time in your life when you have to own who you are; for me, that is to accept myself and to understand that I will meet people in my life that will look at me beyond the layers of my skin and will appreciate my heart, not my size.
I learnt that love cannot be sought for it’s something you find within yourself.
Authors: Tasneem Khambatti and Vedant Vaswani
Editor: Himanshi Mehta