A few days ago I met a lady. I was meeting her after almost two years. The first thing that she said that I had put on weight. Then she went on to say that it is a bad thing that I am putting on weight so early in life. Her concern was that if you get too fat then ‘who will marry you?’ Then she proceeded to lecture me about importance of exercising and how to keep myself fit and stuff. I answered her politely and agreed to whatever she said and promised her that I will take better care of my figure. She then told me that I should not mind what she said as she has my best interests at heart. I am like her daughter and she would have given similar advice to her daughter. I assured her that I was not at all offended.
I receive this sort of advice every other day since I am on the healthy side. Someone or the other with my best interest at heart tells me to lose weight, or not eat certain food, or maybe suggests a diet. All of these people are ‘supposed’ to be my well wishers and I am supposed to listen to them quietly.I am supposed to take their advice, no matter whether I want it or no, no matter how rude or otherwise, with a pinch of salt and a smile on my face.
If I retort or answer back I am ill-mannered and impolite. If I smile and listen to them, it means that I am open to more such well-meaning advice . And if I avoid such people, I am anti-social.
I always wonder what exactly body shaming is? Internet defines body shaming as,‘The practice of making critical, potentially humiliating comments about a person’s body size or weight.’ But is that really so? The lady that I met did not humiliate me in any way. But she was trying to make me feel bad about my body by asserting that no one will marry me because I wear plus size clothes. Does my size decide whether I am marriage material or not? My education, personality, my thinking is not important as long as I am a size zero. No, wait a minute! Now a days even size zero is criticized with excessively thin girls being called sticks. So even those ‘sticks’ are not marriage material.
No matter where we go, there always is someone who comments on what we eat and most importantly, how much we eat. If girl is thin she will be asked to eat more and if a girl is on the healthy side, she is advised to eat less.
There are so many ‘well wishers’ out there who, under the guise of concern body shame you every now and then. It could be a very simple comment like,‘You going to eat THAT?’ or a humiliating one like, ‘ All the pizzas and burgers that you eat are clearly visible on your body!’, they all come under body shaming.
But then how do you differentiate between genuine concern and the guise of concern? Your guess is as good as mine. But I have developed a technique, if someone starts commenting on my size, weight or rather any part of my body, I cut them off saying,” I don’t want to discuss this topic.” and walk off. Rude right? But then it is better to be a little rude than to lose your peace of mind.
What do you guys think?
(PS – Since I am a girl and I understand a girl’s perspective much better, this article s written from a girl’s point of view. But I am sure even boys face similar problems and pressures. So this article is for everyone out there who faces body shaming.)