After ignoring the Buzzfeed essay by Sonam Kapoor on my Facebook timeline for a few hours, I finally gave in. What’s another five minutes spent reading about how women should or should not be? Right? We’ve been told that every moment of our life. In the essay, she talked about what it takes for her to look like what she does, her insecurities, women who helped her, etc.
As expected, many pointed out the hypocrisy of it all by asking how Kapoor on one hand wishes to be a role model for women and on the other endorses brands that thrive on our broken self-esteem. Now, this pisses me off more than the lame essay itself. Why? Because it wasn’t a film actress that made me feel conscious about my big breasts, it wasn’t even an anti-cellulite cream ad that made me instinctively touch my flabby arms.
I remember exactly the first time I felt the need to cover up. I was thirteen (the big teen year) when my mom for the first time told me ‘chalo, ab zyada mat khao. Moti ho jaoge’, to which an old aunt came to my ‘rescue’, saying ‘no, no. let her eat. She is perfectly healthy. Just stay this way. Otherwise…’. That was the first time I looked at myself in the mirror differently.
I have always been very ticklish. I have really fond memories of my childhood when my parents used to hold me and my sister used to tickle me till I started laughing so hard that I cried. Recently, after tickling me around my waist, a friend casually pointed out how I really should do something about the ‘belly fat’. I don’t know if he or others around noticed it or not but, my laugh changed. I instinctively sucked my tummy in. Rest of the day was obviously spent making sure I sit, walk, talk in a way that makes me look slimmer.
It wasn’t the media or any star or any magazine that made me feel differently about myself. They were the people who love me, one of them gave birth to me. Over the years, I have tried very hard to not let my body define me, to not let snide comments affect me or make me think twice about what could have been or what should be. And to an extent they don’t.
I don’t want to get into the debate on what the mainstream media can or cannot do. But what we can do is be a little more sensitive, a little more understanding. We can stop judging people on how fat or thin they are or what their skin tone is. I know, it is easier said than done. But, let’s try.
Next time you disagree with someone, don’t try and shut that person down by saying ‘tu to rehne de, fatty.’ Don’t sit with your hairy body and tell a female colleague that she needs to get rid of the mustache. Don’t ask your female friend who has put on a few pounds if her boyfriend is okay with her ‘weight gain’. Don’t ask the happy girl how is she so confident despite being so fat. Believe me, it isn’t a compliment.
If I could get a rupee for every time I’ve been told, ‘Main to sirf sach bol raha hoon’, I’d have enough money to get the liposuction procedure that people keep on suggesting. Lie if you have to or simply just shut up. Help someone grow a little bit, love themselves a little more, be more confident by giving a compliment or just by not being a jerk. It is worth the effort. Because your opinion matters more that any ad, movie star or even Beyoncé (yes!).