Anika Mehta (name changed) is a lawyer based in Goa.
The man I was dating when I lost my virginity was the one who taught me the greatest lesson about my weight. I had put off having sex because I was ashamed of my body. I didn’t want to disappoint him. When he finally coaxed this reason out of me, he was shocked. He told me I was beautiful that my weight didn’t matter to him because he loved me, all of me.
That night was magical. For me, it was the start of my journey on the road to regaining my self-esteem. For far too long it had been clamped tight by the clutches of my weight issues.
Me = my body weight
My family is known for being on the larger side. They also don’t believe in skimping on food. Growing up, I ate whatever I wanted. That added to the fact that I was quite lazy as a kid, I was soon a very chubby child.
It never bothered me. Then college happened. Suddenly the divide among the girls was clear: the thin ones were popular and loved, the fat ones were ‘just friends’ and largely ignored. The boys ignored me and the girls pitied me. I was always the fat one in the group. It was like I didn’t exist as a person, I was just my body weight.
Dumped for my curves
I tried to shield the fat by wearing loose clothes. Shopping was always traumatic. The clothes I liked weren’t available in my size, I couldn’t find the proper bra size, the clothes I could fit in stretched and looked terrible on me. I had to tailor all my clothes. Imagine wearing what a tailor thinks is fashionable to college!
My first boyfriend was fat. He had love handles and a funny walk. After a year together, he dumped me for a slimmer, prettier girl. The worst part was that I didn’t even know he had moved on. One day, he just stopped talking to me. The next I heard was that he had found someone else.
My best friend harassed him till he confessed why he had dumped me. It was because his friends teased him – I was the fattest among all their girlfriends. I was heartbroken. I ruined my second year of college pining for him and eating everything I could get my hands on. I thought I was fat so how did it matter if I became fatter?
Why do men think it is perfectly fine for them to have a paunch and man boobs, and yet will begrudge a woman for their curves?
It isn’t as if I haven’t tried to lose weight. I’ve done workouts, joined the gym, gone for long walks and done diets. The extra fat just refuses to leave so I give up. To make myself feel better, I eat. It makes me fatter and then one day I decide I’ve had enough and must do something. It is an endless cycle.
My weight is like an extra person in my life. I am always conscious of it. If people look at me on the street, I feel they are judging my clothes or how big my thighs are. At a party, I cover up in such a way that people cannot see extra fat spilling out from anywhere. I don’t wear swimsuits or shorts because I cannot handle people looking at my wobbly thighs or my paunch. My friends affectionately call me fatty or motu etc. Initially the nickname stung. Every time they said it, I felt they were judging me. Not any more.
I still have issues with my weight. I still think I am fat. But I no longer feel bad about it or let it affect my mood. That man and I are no longer together but he gave me the greatest gift ever: learning that my weight doesn’t define me.
This article was first published on 2015-03-30. Names changed. The person in the picture is a model.
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