For the past few months, my body has been celebrated as brave, inspiring and beautiful. I was and still am surprised by the overwhelming love that came my way for donning a red swimsuit on the big screen. But, what else does one wear to the beach? That’s when I realised that I have a very different relationship with my body than the rest. It has taken a lot of time and soul searching to get to this place, to have a healthy relationship with my body. Its hard, especially when you are in the business of getting called ‘slightly bigger’, ‘heavier’, ‘healthy’, ‘fat’ etc every other day. When your physicality, sometimes, is celebrated more than your skill set.
Most casting calls are of a character that has body image issues. The FATness has to be addressed by the character. “I love myself like this”, “I eat because I’m unhappy”, or my favourite character brief, “Despite being fat, she is beautiful/confident/sexy”. Attributes that apparently only the cookie cutter thin women can have without any ‘despites’. I was once called for an audition where the script read, “She gets so hungry during the sales pitch meeting, that she eats the dog biscuits in front of her”. True story.
Having said that, I’m really thankful that true characters are being written into scripts now, like in Wake Up S!d, Midnight’s Children and Veere Di Wedding. I’m thankful for layered characters and not just fat-is-funny-comic-relief characters.
I was bullied in school for being fat and being a fat actor’s daughter. I was the butt of jokes when some unevolved cousins called me ‘sisu’ (which is mercury in Gujrati), the heaviest metal. And of course, the “Such a pretty face! Lose some weight and there will be a line of boys outside your door!”, from concerned aunts and uncles. I remember every jibe, every joke, every piece of unsolicited advise. I now know how to categorise remarks; whether to educate people, ignore them or to school them. Be aware of the body shaming around you. It runs so deep at such an innate level in our society, that most of us aren’t even aware of the fact that we may be perpetrators ourselves.
I say, call out the body-shamers. Be nice, always. Words hurt. Be cognizant of what you say, what you teach, what you watch. My biggest pet peeve is the TV chat shows that seem to think that making fun of someone’s physical appearance is ‘comedy’. This is on national television! There is body shaming in our advertisements, on national television. This is what most of our country is watching!!! Sigh. Let’s be grateful for the few woke creators who are changing the game and challenging all sorts of labels.
Most of the times we are body shaming ourselves. You know I’m right, I do it everytime I’m PMSing. I know there is water retention, I know there is weight gain, I know there is acne. I know all of this is because I am PMSing. But that doesn’t stop me from loathing my belly for hours or changing my outfit 25 times. But I no longer body shame myself when not PMSing. Exercise and eating right changed that for me. I work out and try to eat right because it makes me feel awesome inside out. I work hard for a happy body, heart and mind. I apologise if I sound like a rainbow-farting unicorn, but I stand by every word.
You need to exercise your body, heart and mind if you want to change your relationship with yourself. I know it’s tough, I’m still working through my issues, and that’s okay. For example, I think that my body is at its sexiest best at the moment. But now I have to work through a different self-esteem issue like, “Nobody thinks I’m attractive enough to date”. I guess we fight our own unique demons every day. Well… One day at a time, right? Yup! Definitely one day at a time.
Be the best you!