Most days, the work that I do for the blog and it’s cause is personally rewarding. It keeps me tethered to the things that matter to me – body image, female empowerment, style talk.
I do get my off days though. Although not as frequent or as intense, they do mar my thoughts.
I guess Im not completely comfortable in my skin. Not yet.
From a young age I did what I could to lash out against society’s extremely biased and distorted views – I spoke up with fierceness, cut the toxic people out and kept my distance from those with immensely judgemental eyes & tongues. What people failed to see was how that fighting really impacted my psyche. It tired me so I began to hide indoors and avoid being seen in public places. I even refused to go to the supermarket close to my apartment, afraid of having to glare and vocalise my disgust at dirty looks aimed towards my size. I was sick of always being up in arms.
I bailed out on meetups with friends. Stopped visiting my folks and in-laws. Only took pictures from face-up. Refused to take buses or trains. Covered the mirrors in my room, refusing to have a look at my reflection.
I didn’t know if there were fashionable outfits that worked for my body, so I purchased clothing that would fit but look ungainly for my age and sense of style. It didn’t occur to me to take a look online at how girls like me dressed well because I did not accept the fact that I was going to stay that size. I was going to be slim again, this was just a temporary phase & setback. So I told myself and people around me.
So I wasted away, hiding behind midnight snacking and impulsive emotional eating which fed further into the self hate. I stopped talking to anyone about my feelings, didn’t discuss anything that bothered me with the hubster. Just stared at my body and wished I could claw my way out of the fat suit.
I started believing that I was hideous and chubby from the extremely impressionable age of 11.
I wish I could go back to that 11 year old and talk to her. Tell her that she was going to outgrow the baby fat, that she was far better than she gave herself credit for. That she had nothing to be ashamed about, that she should not believe everything that is said to her. That she should love her kind heart and thoughtful mind along with her big smile.
I wish I could go back to the 15 year old who binged and purged meals round the clock. Her form was never meant to be overly athletic, round curves were perfectly acceptable. Her thighs & derrière would always be fleshier, hips wider, shoulders sloped broader but that only added to her beautiful hourglass figure.
I wish I could chat with that despondent 16 year old. Who tucked her feelings away behind her food. Who stopped having refreshing jogs and stayed beneath the bed covers to sleep her pain away. Who really began to hate herself with a vengeance and cut her skin in places nobody could see.
There are too many of these years that I would like to revisit. It pains me to look back at how much time I spent hating myself to the core.
When men showed interest in me, I was baffled at what they could have possibly seen. I would make up for my ‘flaws’ by allowing them to push me around and be controlling, hurtful. I allowed myself to be disrespected, toyed with emotionally.
By the time the hubster entered my life, I was so internally damaged that I refused to believe that he could love me at any size. When my weight would begin to yo-yo, Id watch for signs that indicated he was disgusted by me and wait for the day he would eventually tire of me and leave me.
In my early 20s, when I began to believe that the hubster and a select few friends loved me for who I was..the parents and future in-laws, other relatives played havoc with my self esteem. I believed them when they said there was something very wrong with my size. That I was unbelievably obese. Here is a picture of what I looked like back then:
Does this picture show a morbidly obese person?
Lets fast track to my late 20s, the time around my wedding. I was fat shamed every single day by strangers – the place where I acquired my wedding outfits, the photographers, guests to the wedding events. Here is a picture of how I looked like at that time :
Did these pictures show a morbidly obese person?
I was crying my eyes out during the honeymoon because of my weight woes. Here is how I looked like :
Again, was this a morbidly obese person?
I was never morbidly obese. But with every weight loss attempt, my self esteem dwindled. With every successful weight loss attempt, I regained more weight. Because I was really sad and frustrated inside, being sedentary and emotional eating were my only destressing outlets.
The final straw was on the 30th bday. This was how I looked like :
I was at my largest and happiest.
The weight losses and gains had caught up with me. I was so angry with the world. I ate voraciously and could not care less. I forgot what it felt like to feel flushed after a good workout, being sick of pushing myself to the brink of breakdowns. I did not go out much or do things that I used to before when I had an active lifestyle, but I kept myself sanguine.
I learnt more from this period than I ever did during all the weight loss attempts. Yes, I was unfit and an introvert who shied from gatherings. But I was looking at myself in the mirror again, and could see beyond the appearance. I was mindful of my health ailments and mobility issues due to crippling life long injuries that were sustained when I was slimmer.
I am not advocating extreme weight gain or poor lifestyle habits. What I am advocating is the attitude that You are beautiful at any size. You can be stylish at any size. Losing all the kilos may help you find your way, or it may not. It does not guarantee happiness. That is a state from within.
I had allowed myself to just be. Without the previous pressures and harsh self talk. I was grieving the death of my mother and concentrated on staying positive through the grief, celebrating her life instead of mourning the loss.
Exactly a year after her demise, which was a few months after that last photograph was taken..I went on my first holiday in a long time. That experience was another wake-up call: All this time, I focused on the weight losses and gains but disregarded my health. I wasn’t sleeping well, I had so many health problems, I couldn’t walk without huffing or reaching for the inhaler. My feet were rickety and I got tired so very easily.
It has been a year since I decided to implement positive changes, had that shift of mindset and priorities. This is the longest period I have gone without yo-yo weight fluctuations. I may be overweight but I am not unhealthy with my habits and choices. My weak immune system affects my ability to sustain regular workouts. So I keep myself un-sedentary, watch what I eat (unless it’s that crazy pms time), and am now beginning to dress, look more like the authentic Me.
In fact during this period, my parents, in-laws and other folks have come to terms with the fact that I am not going to lose extreme weight at warped speed like all those other times. They have reduced the chiding..thank goodness.
I am married to a man who has seen me in so many different sizes and looks, and loved me unconditionally through it all. He makes me feel beautiful all the time.
I have friends who may have once had preconceived notions about bigger bodied people, but have come to alter these opinion. They are not perfect, projecting their own body image and self worth-related insecurities onto others unknowingly. But I do know that they have no or minimal disgust or harsh judgements in their hearts when their gaze falls upon me. They see the person, not the size.
So I continue to work on feeling comfortable in my own skin, and living a life true to the person that I am. Having fun and good laughs while at it of course 🙂
Onwards and Upwards!
Be Kind to One Another,
Love Aarti Olivia xx