The fatmospheric existence

By Aparna Mudi | Last Updated: Mar 04, 2015, 19:04 PM IST

Have you ever been approached by a random person in the Metro and told how you are unhappy? Has some child just randomly been rude to you and called you names because you were walking by? Have you by now turned a bully after years of being tormented as the fat one because you figured out that life is a 'jungle raj' – you either bully people yourself or they mock you till you want to curl up and die?

I have.

In the three decades of my existence now, I have come to terms with it. I have also started getting used to the people around who sometimes stare incessantly till you actually raise your eyebrows and ask them whether there is something wrong with them.

It has taken some time – most of it fighting the loopy loop of exercise, diet, failure, misery, self pity and back to exercise.

I like to eat – and I have given in to making it as healthy as I can.

The truth is being fat in this world is worse than being a member of the biggest terrorist organisation.

This is not a rant – it is simply a fact that from the time I gained weight during my puberty I was told how I would never get a good guy. Then I ended up in a bad relationship because of low self esteem where the guy knew how to take advantage of it. In hindsight I wish I had more supportive people around me who did not let my body image decide how I dealt with relationships. Things became so bad that I clamped down and went on a spiral of depression in my college days.

Time and time again many experts reiterate - being fat is different from being unhealthy. Fat and obesity contribute to a lot of diseases, no doubt. But a healthy lifestyle is so much more important than berating a child (or anyone else) for being overweight. Instead, try introducing your children and yourself to a nutritious diet and daily mild physical exercises to keep diseases at bay. It is so important that you let your child know that looks should not be the scale by which your peers treat you – and no amount of bullying should be taken lying down.

My coping mechanism was getting apologetic or joking about it myself before others could. There are many who can't and suffer even more.

It is sad that more and more people now adhere to the western image of beauty, health and beauty magazines all promote the thinnest of people. India, where a woman with girth was always in demand has now become a term of 'abuse'.

Sonakshi Sinha, Parineeti Chopra and Vidya Balan are criticised by the fashion police for looking fat at events. Some of them fight back, some choose silence and then feature in photoshopped covers of popular magazines where they look all skin and bones. The heroines of movies have started looking like clones of each other and more and more people are following that trend.

A movie like 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha' featuring the very real and overweight Bhumi Pednekar may just be the refreshing change in that image. But I am not very hopeful. After all Vidya, Sonakshi, Parineeti have been the leads in some really good flicks and I don't see anyone backing down with their insults when their 'fat' shows through their designer clothes in award shows.

Their careers, their work, their talent get overshadowed by the weight. Something that is splashed across page 3 every few days. These talented ladies face the wrath of the very people they are trying to impress.

Bollywood continues to mock overweight characters in their movies, and very few manage to stay away from that stereotype. The fat one in the movie is always alone, stupid and mostly just shown lying around in a sofa unable to do anything other than getting joked about. And in a country that worships their movies – that is indeed a sad image to portray.

People, who otherwise won't move a muscle to save a dying man on the road come looking all concerned trying to sell me the latest weight loss technique their fat cousin used and how has had a makeover a la Hrithik Roshan in 'Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gam'. Some just openly laugh.

Most are so insensitive that they would stare and point as if I was a caged animal in the zoo. I mostly take it with a pinch of salt and laugh it off. But, I can imagine how it must be for those who can't laugh when they are at the receiving end of constant prodding and interference from people who say they care about them. Things would not change – most of us live with our prejudices and pass it on to our children.

There is no reason why my weight should define who I am. I have a career, I am intelligent (so one hopes), and pleasant – yet the first thing most notice is my weight.

Not caring about what people say is the best way to take them off guard. As long as you are comfortable with who you are – life becomes like sprinkles on a chocolate ice-cream. Which reminds me I am hungry!