A long time ago, I read an interview of a Brazilian Model, Giselli Monteiro. She confessed that, being born with a thin frame, in a country where voluptuous women are signified beautiful, she had hard time in modeling. She was advised to get surgeries and restructure her body according to the trend. She however, refused.
I entirely appreciate her decision of not altering herself. She also tried to motivate women through sharing her experience but, she ended her interview with a very disturbing message.
She said "If your body image is not accepted where you are born, never forget, there are places in the world where you would be considered beautiful."
After not being accepted well in Brazil, she flew to France to try her hand on modeling, as the French culture welcomes thinner models with open arms. Surprisingly, she tasted huge success there. She then learnt that, India is a country where the facial beauty is more appreciative than the physical statistics, so she flew to India and starred in a Bollywood film, Love Aaj Kal and not to mention, she was appreciated there too. And this led her to give that above message.
Firstly, not every ordinary girl, can afford to travel around the world, if she thinks she doesn't fit where she already is. Secondly, it is embarrassing and sad, how society forces us to either wear their idea of perfection or quit.
Coming back to my own story, I was born skinny. I was never anorexic. I had a very healthy diet throughout my life. I believe my thinness was hereditary. Most of the times you'll learn about weight issues from over weight people and how the constant censure makes their life miserable. But, this time, it's coming from me, a wafer thin person. Yes, It's difficult to empathize with thin people. Specially in western countries, where it is sometimes considered an asset.
"So what! You are thin, eat a sandwich!"
"You are whining about being thin? You don't even have to diet or go through exhausting exercises!"
"Come on! Thin is in!"
"You can devour French fries and burgers without thinking about their calories!"
.. and so on.
But, that wasn't my story. I grew up in India.
I never met a single person who didn't advocate me to gain weight or consult a doctor or eat some cheese and again, not because anyone cared but, just to fit in. I was picked on as kid. Growing up wasn't a different tale either. I was condemned to a point where I was nicknamed "A twig" by a professor during the farewell ceremony of our high school!
It wasn't just him. The criticism came from strangers, friends, colleagues....everyone, who kept telling me:
"Gain some weight, Indian men like their women curvy!"
"Saree doesn't drape well on a stick"
"You are almost invisible!"
"Do you feel any inferiority complex?"
"You look like a 12 year old!"
and much much more...
I went through some depressive phase because of such fiery comments. I lost my self-confidence. I struggled with a pretty bad self esteem. I just wanted to stuff air in to me and stop people from babbling.
Skinny models or actors are criticized harshly, as they tend to give out wrong message to the audience and that turns the society negative towards all the thin people, forgetting that not everyone diet vigorously but, some are actually BORN skinny.
Among all these scuffles, I was eroded. But, there was one thing I was sure of. The inner-me never desired to alter myself. I was really contended with the way I was. I was on the urge of changing myself just to be liked by others!!
Sometimes, I REALLY wanted to be invisible.
If this was my case, I can't even imagine the horror that is faced by over weight people.
Giselli Monteiro's message had the bitterness but, it was a well proven fact too. Unlike India, where, for more than two decades I was asked to change myself, I did completely okay in countries like France and the US. I wasn't told what to eat or how to look. I was in fact appreciated at times. It was still not a happy discovery.
We women never stop whining about how we are not treated right by men, how we are considered a play toy. But don't you think one of the root-cause of such an ideology, lies within us. We try to mould ourselves the way men would like us. We give society, the chance to shape us according to their likes and dislikes and than we make their perception of beauty, ours.
Why? Because, we want to go with the trend. We want to stay in. We want to be liked by others. We want compliments.
I have never met a woman, who said,
"I want to lose weight because I want to feel healthy" or "I want to gain some weight because I want to be fit."
"I want to lose weight so that I could fit in that dress."
"I want to get those curves, like that woman on the cover of Vogue."
"I want to diet, so that my boy likes me."
"I want to be as slim as that model on the runway, so some day I could walk there."
Why can't we just be ourselves, for ourselves? Why can't we make peace with ourselves and our body?
No matter how many times we turn our back, this issue is growing up to be a serious concern. Specially for the coming generation. It is already causing waves in the western countries with a survey saying that, seven in every ten young women want to have a surgery to modify herself. Around 333,000 teens are having surgery every year, already. There are 9.5 to 10 million plastic surgeries per year, alone in America and still growing. And there are much more disturbing numbers, which I am not going to list down here. When weight issues are concerned, most of the teens and adults go through depression not because they are facing any problems, personally but, only because they are judged by people at every instance. The constant pressure from the society and media, for maintaining the perfect shape, is berserk. The criticism has reached to a level where even pregnant women faces hard-slapping comments from public for being fat!!
I so wanted to bury all of these in to myself and forget it ever happened, as I am far from being in that territory anymore, however I just came across one such incident with a very close friend of mine who was asked, by someone who was supposed to accept her in every way, to
stop eating starve and maintain her body. How sad and horrible is that?? How is it possible for a woman to respect a person like this?
I got intensely sad after learning that and I couldn't stop myself from pouring my raging heart out .
So, all I wanted to say to the beautiful women out there is that, DO NOT make someone else's definition of beauty, yours. Fat, curvy, thin, skinny, pretty, ugly whatever you are, you are yourself and no one else to judge. Love and adore the person you see in the mirror. You owe it to yourself.
There are many women, who want to change themselves just so that they can win affection of someone, who would adore them and stay on their side. That perception is not completely wrong too. Everyone needs a partner because no one deserves to stay alone but, don't let them tell you, you are not beautiful, the way you are.
There will be many men who would ask you to change yourself, be something you are not but, time will pass and there will be that ONE person who would want you, who would love you and who would respect you for the way you are. Who wouldn't want to change you just because you don't fit in the standards of some definition of beauty. That is the time, you will really hold on to him, respect him.
I have that ONE person in my life and he accepted me the way I was. The first person I met, who saw beyond flesh and bones. He loved me for the way I was and I could actually feel it. And that was the time, I felt the most confident. I have never liked myself so much. I just think about the days back and smile on how wrong I was to change myself.
Though I have gained some good pounds and feel heavier than a "twig" now, I still don't regret on what I was and wont ever feel bad about myself if I get back to that phase again.
And remember, even if you don't get that one right person, it is better to be yourself than to be with someone wrong and be judged every moment. Be with a man who don't want a PERFECT woman but, want what you already are.
All of this ramblings should also not make you think that being skinny or being fat is cool.
Being healthy is.
Work out, eat the right food and have a healthy body.
"I don't want to be thin, I don't want to be fat, I want to be healthy, for not someone else but, for ME."
I am really not trying to sound sexist here. I have also seen men go through the same phase. In fact, in a much intense way because men are supposed to be, well, men. All strong and muscular and beefy but, the scale of being judged is heavier on the women side.
Every woman have their insecurities and most us try to mask them. Even if everything is perfect, we always feel SOMETHING is just not right and that is in our hormones but, let's embrace all of that. We ARE beautiful and let's not allow anyone to tell us otherwise. Let's start giving high scores to our self. Let's cut our self some slack. Let's try to change the definition of a perfect woman. Let's try to change the perceptions of how the society sees us. And then we can march ahead for equality.
Exactly what I mean to say here
*All the images are taken from www.google.com