Monday, February 27, 2017

Beauty queen

Amidst all the fun and frolic at the wedding I recently attended in India, there were some not-so-great moments as well. The 328764379642 relatives, for example, who demanded to know why I had lost SOOO MUCH weight (Ummm... I've been at 57 kg for the last 16 years so I don't know what they were talking about), or those who asked me if I didn't feed Xena at all (Yeah, I just love starving my child) and why she's SOOO underweight (Yeah, I enjoy the fact that my almost 6-year-old weighs as much as a 2-year-old).

There was even someone who told me that I looked "fine" when she last saw me but now I was "too thin". Well, when she last saw me, I was in Std VII and weighed about 40 kg, so I didn't know what she was talking about.

Actually, I didn't take it as body-shaming. I took it as a gross violation of the truth, and that's what annoyed me. (Anyway, I don't like the term 'body-shaming' at all, because I feel that a lot of people hide behind it, instead of getting off their asses and working towards achieving their own fitness goals and dream bodies.)

I ranted about all this to my sister who gave me a simple strategy to deal with it. "It's just something these relatives say when they see someone after a while. It's not coming from a bad place. It's just words that mean nothing." And suddenly I felt better. It was simple. I just needed to see them the way I see the counter staff at a fast food restaurant. They say "How are you?" the moment they see you, but do they really have any interest at all in knowing how you are? Not a chance. It's just that you're there in front of them and they have made eye contact and now they HAVE to say something.

So I learnt to smile and ignore.

But it did bother me when the comments were directed at Xena. "Why are you so thin?" or "You don't eat?" Much as I worry about her feeding issues and weight, and try to talk to her about it, I don't confront her so directly. I just tell her that she needs to eat a little more than she does now, so she can get stronger. The key word is always 'stronger'.

And of course, there are the other issues about 'beauty' -- skin colour and sharpness of features, etc., which unlike fitness, are out of one's control. As a kid, I had heard more than enough about my not-so-sharp nose and I'm glad I never let that get in the way of my confidence. It was laughable actually, how they were all so pleased to discover that the guy I had chosen to marry had a sharp nose. There's hope for the progeny then, they must have thought.

Well, guess what? Xena doesn't have a sharp nose by their standards. Actually I don't know and don't care what kind of a nose she has. So my ears pricked up when I heard this conversation between her and a relative. Luckily, Xena made my day with her response.

Relative - You must pull your nose a little every day. Like this. (demo) Then it will become sharp and you will become beautiful.
Xena - I don't need to. My mummy says I'm already beautiful because I'm happy. 


Bubblegum inherhappyplace said...

Body shaming of any type is never going to end any time soon in India.

There were times when I was always questioned about marrying a little slimmer guy than me. (Our destiny decided to make it easier within a year for us- I became slimmer and he grew his staunch. LOL)

My mom is very very fair and when people pinpoint my darker complexion, I feel like slapping them and believe me, my mom does that virtual slapping act since years.

But, I see this as a chance to build a new society which would not care about such things. Including pulling noses.

Sayesha said...

LOL! Kudos on getting fitter though. Fitness is really close to my heart so I'm all for it, but not for things you have no control over, like complexion and features. :/

Arun said...

Yes, what you write about is a very annoying feature of most desis. Kudos for handling it well!

Lakshmi Thampi said...

Way to go, Xena!! So proud of you and your wonderful Mom!

How do we know said...

As always , Xena wins the day!