“Beauty isn’t skin deep.”
I see the caption under a picture and I read it again and again, looking back and forth from the picture to the caption, the mouse hovering above the like button.
The person in the picture is- I’m not judging but- beautiful. Their eyes sparkle like the sun bouncing off the ocean waves, their subtle smile an interface between seriousness and blitheness. Their hair was sun-kissed red and wouldn’t have looked better.
I have seen many other people say the same thing that was written in the caption, explain it to the world that being beautiful doesn’t mean you have a perfect body, you’re not chubby or bony. I don’t understand why anyone would judge someone by their appearance because honestly I too believe that the true personality of a person lies within.
But there is one thing that many wouldn’t understand. Looking at the picture, I admire the person’s belief and at the same time I wish I could be like her. I wish I could be skinny.
Years ago, my relatives used to complain my mum about how skinny my sibling and I got with each visit. A year later, I heard my aunt say that girls cannot eat more than two rotis whereas boys gulp down five or six rotis in one meal. I ate five rotis that day. I didn’t stop there though- I continued to wrong my aunt for months.
When I was eight years old, we shifted to where we are right now, let’s call it Coke Town. Coke Town was an odd place. For a person like me who has always lived in an environment where people introduced themselves to you on their own and were extremely friendly, Coke Town felt like Mars. The behaviour of people was quite unusual. They didn’t have the same etiquettes that all the other people in the places I lived before in did. Actually they didn’t have etiquettes at all. At least that’s what I felt during that time.
I had a hard time making friends because, again, I was in habit of friendly people before. Though I made friends afterwards, the amount of physical activities I did weren’t enough to balance the huge amount of calories I got from eating. Slowly, I stopped going out.
Though everyone said I was getting healthier day by day I didn’t do anything. My relatives, like most typical Indian relatives, mixed up this issue with marriage and said, “You should take care of yourself. I have seen girls having a difficulty finding a groom later.” For God’s sake, I was twenty years away or more before marriage! But, oh, well, you know relatives.
I have been called a lot of things. Fat, elephant, hippo, aunty (yes, aunty), etc. Those words hurt me a lot every time someone used it. On every relative’s (because mostly they were relatives) visit, instead of tips on how to study for exams, I was given tips on how to reduce weight. I know, they were concerned about me but it was always very embarrassing. It still happens, even more now.
It wasn’t until I was fourteen that I realised how uncomfortably fat I was. I felt uncomfortable under my skin. And it wasn’t only to do with my naked appearance in front of the mirror but also how I felt with the extra fat muscles. How I felt, not only in my heart but outside too, whenever the fat muscles in my back and tummy folded whenever I sat. How I felt, not internally but externally, when they move on their own with my every step. How I felt, not emotionally but physically, when someone poked my stomach just to see if their fingers bounced back. How I gradually started to feel, in my heart, when the kids in my bus or the kids in my society teased me by calling me fat and I couldn’t do anything about it. How I feel, in my conscience and subconscience, when someone mistakes me for the elder sister with a six years younger sister whereas it actually is the other way round. Some of the things I have mentioned above may sound disgusting to you, but honestly, they feel as disgusting as they sound.
I have had a million dreams where I suddenly became thin again and when I woke up I was back again into the same old ‘chubby’ state. I really don’t qualify as chubby or healthy, that I know too well.
I hesitate while eating food. Before buying one spring roll, my body is always stuck in a battle between my mind and my stomach. Before taking an afternoon snack, I think about it three or four times before I make up mind. I think of starving myself like I did last year because I feel it was effective, I lost weight, though not sure if it was true or just my mind playing tricks. If I start eating, I cannot stop myself. I envy the skinny people who eat too much to get more muscles on their bones and still stay the same. I am conscious of running in public for I look weird doing that and don’t want them to think I am health conscious.
No one realises how one word, even if it is said jokingly, could hurt someone so deeply they'd start despising themselves because let's just be honest: you're not the only one who has called them names. It's like a tiny little stone would hurt you less than a hundred little stones thrown at you either all at once or one by one. 'Healthy' people think more than anyone could imagine, all of their insecurities pile up in their mind and flow like a volcano, destroying every bit of their self esteem.
No one realises how much of a turmoil an unhealthily healthy person’s mind is engaged in when they pick one spoonful of food, place it in their mouth, chew it and gulp it. Then the feeling afterwards is awful. As for me, I feel the hundreds of fat cells in my body splitting and swelling up with every bite of food. My everyday meal is a constant battle between myself and my hungry stomach. Also, these days, the stomach wins and with that, my self esteem wavers. I wonder if I would have been more confident if I was thin. I wonder if I spoke more fluently and eloquently if I felt comfortable in my body.
Many would not agree with this. Many would criticise me, saying self confidence doesn’t have to do anything with one’s body. But I am me and you are you, and you cannot decide how I feel when even I can’t govern my own thought processes in that direction. It’s like every part of me is out of control and I am waiting for that time when I completely break.
Saying ‘being fat doesn’t matter, we only see your personality’ is easier than actually knowing how it is like to be in this position. I am not saying one shouldn’t encourage others. I always tell the same thing to people that it doesn’t matter how you look and I really do feel it doesn’t. It’s just that I can’t feel the same thing for me because I feel it in my every movement, if you can understand what I mean.
I don’t want to look beautiful and attractive or ‘hot’ and ‘sexy’. The latter are the last things I want to be. I want to be comfortable in my skin.
So, looking at the captions, I feel honoured to know the people who feel that beauty is what is inside and they try to encourage others to feel better about them. But it will still take a lot of time for me to accept myself, I apologise them for this delay.
Finally, I press the like button.