In my 13-year-old, pre-teen sister’s class, in a fancy South Kolkata English medium convent, an pressing assembly is summoned one afternoon by the Principal and her involved class trainer. They’re then solemnly knowledgeable that certainly one of their classmates has performed the unthinkable – that pupil has tried to chop her wrists. As the remainder of the category listens in abject shock and horror and encompass their classmate, masking her with their scrawny arms and whispering solemn reassurances – the explanation behind her lengthy standing despair is painfully revealed.
The woman suffers from Bulimia Nervosa, generally generally known as Bulimia, a doubtlessly life-threatening consuming dysfunction. Made well-known by the deceased Princess Diana, individuals who battle with Bulimia might secretly binge — consuming giant quantities of meals with a lack of management over the consuming — after which purge, attempting to put off the additional energy in essentially the most unhealthy vogue.
These embody, hoarding or stealing meals. Skipping meals or barely touching one’s meals. Abusing laxatives, diuretics, enemas or different medicines to drastically shed weight. Avoiding associates and actions you loved and retreating into suffocating social isolation, and, typically, shedding curiosity in life altogether.
‘It’s so tragic, di…all of us love her a lot, she is such a enjoyable particular person,’ my sister narrates, her eyes moistening, including in a comfortable voice, ‘additionally, she actually wasn’t that fats. I don’t know why she felt that means. Who made her really feel that means? Why she felt it a lot…each single day…why she wished to grow to be invisible…when she began fading away?’
Her phrases path.
Make no mistake – being fats and feeling fats are usually not the identical factor, and, but, the wafer skinny intersectionality between the physiological and the psychological could be frighteningly deadly.
In the identical college and again once I started piling on the additional kilos, quickly after my menstrual cycle commenced at age 10 after which I used to be identified with PCOD – a gynaecological situation affecting one in 5 (20%) of each Indian lady that results in extreme hormonal imbalance and weight fluctuations – I used to be screamed at by the one male trainer in an all woman’s college in entrance of my complete class.
Our middle-aged bodily coaching teacher who blew a shrill whistle and sported a baseball cap and narrowed his imply eyes when he meant enterprise. It was he who brandished me as ‘fatso,’ and sniggered that I couldn’t by no means run a relay. Basketball – a sport that my college exceled in was clearly out of the query.
I used to be humiliated and bear in mind scurrying to the toilet and banging the door shut and weeping copiously. I bear in mind, how nearly each week, and, at house, I might beg my widowed single mom to put in writing a word explaining why I needed to be excused from PT, since my menstrual ache was excruciating. It was simple to be a failure if you find yourself fats. Bucktoothed and have a moustache that transformed you right into a social outcast. It was simpler to only sit on the purple benches and watch others win. Simply. Effortlessly.
It was how I began hating my very own physique. Realizing I used to be by no means going to be fairly – in a girly type of means. Realizing that fairly translated into fashionable.
The identical purpose why I subsequently additionally give up Bharatanatyam – a classical dance type I exceled in, weeks after my Arangetram – my debut and first solo stage look. My Guru, a well-known dancer in Kolkata and a lady herself – routinely poked enjoyable of my paunch and the truth that I may by no means execute the shringaar ras to perfection – how can a person/male God – the thing of the danseuse’s affection and attraction ever be drawn to an overweight, younger lady? One needed to look the half.
Need, in spite of everything, has proverbially been a male protect and privilege. A lady – a mute, immobile object. A largely silent spectator who after performing sexual somersaults to catch a person’s curiosity or lust will need to have no different job than to eternally await reciprocity. Viraha – separation anxiousness is perennially celebrated. A lady’s price dependant on her bodily magnificence, however, additionally, her tenacious persistence. To be chosen. And chased. Consummated.
A have a look at India’s organized marriage market
One have a look at India’s organized marriage market blows the lid on this perverse fixation on bodily perfection – the ‘slim/tall/honest,’ stress to adapt – a February 2021 information report in Indiatimes references 1,057 girls surveyed for ‘India’s Magnificence Check,’ a research commissioned by Dove and performed in 17 cities throughout India that reveals 94% of girls have been requested to work on their look to bag a groom.
Within the research, 68% claimed rejections based mostly on their physicality impacted their vanity and confidence. 74% of girls admitted they skilled exacting stress to look extra lovely through the organized marriage course of. An equal variety of girls going through rejections for a similar. The research included insights from matchmakers – each particular person and corporations/web sites. For instance, if the woman had quick hair then the possibilities of a match figuring out are 1 or 2 in 1,000 circumstances.
In fashionable cinema
It is usually the place and why the latest Bollywood launch, Double XL, staring, Sonakshi Sinha and Huma Qureshi is nothing greater than superficial tokenism – a preachy sermon paraded as new-age feminism – a supposedly woke script peppered with just a few tongue-in-cheek repertoires lastly marred by the identical slapstick characterisations and situational comedy that degrade a lady’s physique and autonomy.
Within the method, Bollywood has nearly trended in.
Keep in mind, Sweetu’s greatest good friend Naina telling her how she was solely worthy of being beloved if she misplaced weight, alongside Sweetu’s sister evaluating her to a double-decker bus. The truth is, Sweetu’s weight remained a supply of comedian reduction all through the cult movie, Kal Ho Na Ho, with characters continuously commenting on it.
Or, let’s hark again to one of many earliest examples of gross fat-shaming within the Aamir Khan blockbuster, Dil. The scene displaying that if Raja misplaced a match, he’d be compelled to kiss an chubby lady. Projecting a fats lady as a punishment was merciless, however nearly a staple in films from the 90s.
Who can neglect Diljale boasting a complete track titled Ho Nahin Sakta commencing with protagonist (Ajay Devgn), fleeing from kissing an chubby lady who is of course projected as sexually untouchable.
I ask myself as a lady who has battled labels like ‘chubby,’ and ‘fairly, however plump,’ all her life and been on the butt of male rejections all by way of my adolescence, until I misplaced weight, after my first gynaecological surgical procedure at age 19 – if self-deprecating humour – a staple for scriptwriters truly salvages a lady’s dignity and bodily company?
Vidya Balan in Mission Mangal commenting on co-actor Nithya Menon’s weight whereas discussing her skilled capabilities. Whilst Akshay Kumar reacts with a disapproving gesture, Balan’s character, Tara, doesn’t admit her fake pays. Relatively, she sighs, ‘I do know, I do know, I’ve no proper to speak about weight.’ Kumar taking part in Rakesh Dhawan doesn’t appropriate this sickening sexism.
The bottom widespread denominator being noir movies like Ghoomketu the place Nawazuddin Siddiqui marries an chubby lady, because of an accident – known as ‘horrible’ destiny, whereby the actor refuses to have a look at the girl’s face for ten days submit the nuptials and is even proven afraid on the proverbial suhaag raat – the character’s face is lastly revealed solely when she transforms into a thin lady after which, nearly like a fairy-tale, Nawazuddin falls in love and is sort of miraculously attracted.
Additionally, ever puzzled why nearly each so-called ‘wholesome heroine,’ in B-town slims down with a vengeance at breakneck pace to outlive the thin requirements related to being a intercourse image – which is what the common heroine in India is, in an business the place stereotyping girls like jars of imported mayonnaise with expiry dates runs aplenty – the place a lady submit marriage and youngsters should match into the ‘yummy mummy’ class – which additionally means wanting skinny and thereby reversing the proverbial seven indicators of ageing, stretch marks and submit being pregnant weight positive factors.
Sonakshi Sinha, for instance, weighed 90 kgs earlier than she misplaced 30 kgs on the heels of her debut in tinsel city. Albeit, with just a little assist from Salman Khan who supposedly noticed ‘her potential’. Huma Qureshi, Sinha’s ‘fats’ good friend within the above talked about movie, overtly speaks of being teased for being a ‘huge woman’, has been giving media interviews galore speaking about how the individuals round her suggested her to be cautious about selecting this position.
‘I used to be scared as a result of my closest confidantes and companions advised me that I used to be making a mistake. And it might be the top of my profession.’ How regardless of all this she made up her thoughts and determined to play the position that she summarises as ‘liberating and empowering.’
Qureshi additionally hogged cowl on Harper’s Bazaar India August situation which paradoxically was dubbed the Physique Difficulty and marketed because the actor being unapologetic in celebrating her physique, her private, self-love journey and never looking for society’s validation any longer. ‘I can’t be simply one other fairly woman who got here and went as a result of there’ll all the time be somebody prettier,’ her interview quotes.
My query is who decides these unimaginable and unreal requirements, anyway? And, if vogue and life-style magazines need to actually uncover the scathing lid on fats shaming and be trailblazers in physique positivity, then why name the problem ‘Physique Difficulty’ – within the first place? Are tummies and double chins and thick thighs and sagging boobs and off form waists and flabby buttocks not each bit a standard physique?
I imply, how lengthy will Balan and Sinha and Qureshi be flogged because the poster women on this division? Anybody seen Dum Laga Ke Haisha star Bhumi Pednekar who wowed audiences by portraying an chubby newly-wed bride, just lately?
The actor has knocked off 32 kgs – happening from 89 kg to 57 kg. “Meals makes me blissful. It’s for the soul. I’ve by no means disadvantaged myself of consuming something I’ve wished. I had ghee, butter, buttermilk and the one factor I ended having fully was sugar. However sure, I managed my carbohydrate consumption too. I adopted my common weight-reduction plan, exercised portion management and was very specific about not bingeing. I had a cheat meal each 5 days. It sounds fancy, however I by no means went to a dietician or a nutritionist. Until now, it has solely been my mom and me. I used Google search and my mom’s huge data on meals to drop a few pounds. Aside from being bodily energetic, easy home-cooked meal is the best means for weight reduction. The 2 of us got here up with a weight-reduction plan plan”
In the mean time, our second flooring neighbour’s daughter is about to get her ‘haath peele’.
I do know, so, as quickly as I spot her, I get out of the elevator.
As my mom exchanges pleasantries, I overhear her mom, a widow having misplaced her husband to Covid final 12 months, use the phrase, ‘shaadi se pehle toh sundar lagna hello hain (should look lovely earlier than her marriage).’ The place being Sundar equals to being slim.
Sreemoyee Piu Kundu is the bestselling writer of ‘Sita’s Curse’, India’s first feminist erotica, and ‘Standing Single’ and the founding father of India’s first and solely group for city single girls. She can also be a number one columnist on sexuality and gender. Views expressed are private.