Body Types – Thin Or Fat – Are Really Nobody’s Else’s Business. Except Yours.

What is common between the following terms — “Sunkri, Shuntki, Lamppost, Kite, Asparagus, Palmtree, Knitting needle, Pencil, etc.” These are some of the epithets assigned to thin girls living in the ‘neo-politically right feminist’ world. 

Diametrically opposite to fat-shaming a person is shaming a person for being thin. I happened to pick up Audrey Hepburn’s story of her surviving starvation during Nazi occupation and ate boiled grass & nettles. She aspired to become a dancer. She loved her pasta and chocolate but was a disciplined eater and a locavore, to keep her fitness regime in place. And she was also suspected of being anorexic or bulimic. Her family however say that she loved to eat healthy.

Actresses and models are often humiliated, ridiculed for being shapely or too thin (boyish / pixie) because it is always a suspicion that she is not naturally thin. Sweeping judgmental statements claim they are all trying to get thin to fit or get fat around some parts to fit an unnatural beauty standard.
Bottomline is that they are being shamed to feel guilty for a body type.

In many professions, women and men both are not accepted with an ounce of fat. Some have stringent fitness criteria like Dancers & Armed forces. Others simply have shape & height criteria like Models, Air-line crew. But if there are people who are subjecting themselves to fit in those roles, then there are also those who either don’t really need to 
work hard and do agree to work really hard to be in that shape.

This ultra feminism, that wants to celebrate curves and larger shaped women, shames the thin one. In the effort to celebrate one type, they end up typecasting the other creating a tilt in their views and thus nullifying the whole idea of equality and inclusiveness.

Unless it is sending out really bad examples that harms children, like extreme health hazards, can we really blame a person for trying to be in shape, any shape they chose.

Throughout my growing years I faced severe criticism, undue advice, ridicule, pointed queries about my diet – if I was starving myself; pointed question about my exercise regime — if I was doing any; and pointed questions about any illness — if I had Anorexia or Bulimia and complete disregard and suspicion about my answers that I was born fat, but am genetically on the slender side. Most members of my family are slender. 

I often wondered what is it that these women saw in me, that they felt insecure about my body, which they believed I had easily managed, while they were struggling to get into. It was the concept of the “Slender is Beautiful or Healthy”… which underlines that fact they were either shamed or felt ashamed of their body types.  

So in a way they were ridiculing the same format that they were unable to fit into. A kind of self inflicted guilt.

Ultimately over the last decades the same people have learned to accept their bodies and lifestyle. Sill the cloaked jibes haven’t stopped, “I don’t know how you manage to remain so thin… I cannot be like you… I eat everything. I cannot pick and choose.”

Sometimes I do protest feebly, “I eat everything too and more.” So much so that I started posting my daily food intake on social media, so that it goes out as a message that I don’t starve myself. I have now learned to not rise in my defence.   

I have stopped being apologetic about my body type and I would request all women to not judge other’s on their body types.  

Instead of shaming women, it is better that we start inclusiveness. Accept all body types thin or fat, fair or dark.

By Sangeeta Bodhi Das

Sangeeta Das photo ID

Sangeeta is a published writer and illustrator. She currently works as a consultant with an NGO in New Delhi. Apart from that, she also works as a storyteller and a creative writer for English and Bengali languages with Bal Bhavan, Delhi. Sangeeta has previously been a Jury member for Bal Bhavan’s nationwide competitions for children.

She has illustrated and designed books for Pratham Books and NAZ foundation. She has also published two stories as part of the collections – ‘Lighthouse in the storm’, published for  the ‘Book Therapy’ project of AWIC (Association of Writers and Illustrators for children) and the anthology, ‘One Big Family’, Published by the National Foundation for Communal Harmony.

That apart Sangeeta also writes about women and gender issues.

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