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.