On Tubby Legs and Heavy Hearts

I watched a video on Upworthy today. A video about Dustin Hoffman on his character in the film ‘Tootsie’. I’m sure it was shared somewhere on your Facebook walls or Twitter timelines.

If not, here it is — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPAat-T1uhE

Watch it again, if you haven’t already.

Now, I haven’t blogged here in a very, very long time, but today, this moved me to immediately pen down my thoughts.

Mr. Hoffman, at one point in the video, says he couldn’t believe that he wasn’t more attractive when he was made-up to look like a woman. For me, this hit the proverbial nail right on its narrow-minded head.

I’ve struggled with weight and self-esteem issues for as long as I can remember. Apart from being a skinny toddler, I’ve always had the chubbiest cheeks, the tubbiest legs and the dimples on my elbows that so many kids in school seemed to lack.

Back then, it was cute. I was pampered and smothered with love. People would stop my mum on the street and comment on how adorable I was.

Now, as I face the problem of being overweight, it’s not so cute anymore.

I have no excuses to make for my weight, and I don’t choose to look for any. Simply put, I love food. I love everything that is bad for me and I lack the willpower to say “no” on a regular basis. But I don’t think that’s stopped me from leading a happy, relatively active lifestyle. I travel a fair bit, I run around for meetings all day and I rarely turn down an invitation to go dancing. The problem is that I’m constantly afraid of what I look like.  If I dress up at home before a night out, I feel like I am pretty, until I step out on to the street. I look at the dresses women around me wear, and the fact that they can flaunt parts of themselves that I’d never dream of inflicting upon the general public.

Many times, I’ve tried to combat this feeling. I’ve worn knee-length shorts to Bandra and received strange looks on my way. I’ve worn an off-shoulder top and been asked to change, by my parents.

I’ve been out with friends and heard people say, “Dekh dekh, kitni moti hai”, as I’ve walked past them.

I’ve run into people from school all over the city, and a fair number (not all) of them have said the exact same thing – “You’ve not changed at all! Still fat!”

Once, I’ve been told that I must “be so funny because I have to compensate for my weight.”

It’s come to a point where I recently refused to go to an event that asked you to “Flaunt Your Back”, partly because I was terrified that I’d be the only one who wasn’t able to bring herself to actually do it.

I’ve always had skinny friends, and, when we go shopping, I stand and look at jewellery while they rummage through the latest collections, because there’s no way I’ll get clothes my size.

I go to a tailor to get a lot of my clothes stitched, and I never tell people that because I’m embarrassed. Instead, I’ll “forget” where that shirt is from, or say, “My mother bought it.”

My favourite instance, though, was when someone who used to follow this very blog many years ago, got talking to me and asked if we could meet. I agreed, semi-reluctantly, and we went to a neighbourhood coffee shop. I was having a good hair day, and I wore my nicest top and jeans. I reached five minutes early and occupied a prime spot. 

As I waited for this person (Let’s call them “A”) to show up, I nervously checked if my kajal was smudged. just then, someone who i suspected could be “A” walked in, looked at me and walked out.

I was too nervous and shy to say anything, so I sat and waited. “A” sat at a nearby table. We both ordered cups of coffee, drank them and left, without saying a word to each other.

I messaged “A” later that night, after hours of toying with my phone and dealing with feelings I was unable to completely process. The reply to my question, “Where were you?” was, “I came in and saw you. But you were very different from what I expected. So I’m sorry, but I don’t think we can be friends.”

Instead of letting it go, I pushed for a clarification. In no uncertain terms, “A” messaged back – “You’re too fat. I’m sorry.”

Now, I’m not saying this to garner pity or anything of the sort. I’m not looking for you to say, “Awwww, you poor thing”, nor am I pretending that there’s nothing I can do about this.

But this isn’t my point. 

As I watched this video, it hit me – I’m conditioned to believe that, just because I’m overweight, I am not beautiful. I am not someone you’d chat up in a bar, nor am I someone you’d claim to have a crush on.

It’s me, more than anything – I refuse to accept compliments under the guise of being coy. I immediately discount the fact that I could be remotely interesting to anyone, because, hey, look at me.

I am blessed to be surrounded by close friends who’ve never made me feel the pinch, so to speak. They’ll sit by quietly as we slowly suffocate to death due to lack of space in a rickshaw and move the table a little further away from the seat when I have to get up at a restaurant.

I guess, at some level, I’m just writing this to say, we all face this everywhere. No matter who we are and what we do, we will always find imperfections within ourselves – some obvious, some invisible to anyone else.

After watching this video today, I find myself sitting here with tears streaming down my face, because, even though so many years have passed, “A”‘s text still rings in my head every time I check myself out in a mirror, or look at photos of myself.

I will probably never feel beautiful or attractive. No matter how my body changes over the years, there will always be something to nitpick about, and, to be honest, I don’t know how I will ever combat it, and if I’ll ever be able to move past this negative body image.

It will always come as a genuine surprise when someone tells me they think I’m pretty, and I will never be able to positively respond to such a statement.

But, I will try. 

Will you? 

~ by cranialrumblings on July 9, 2013.

16 Responses to “On Tubby Legs and Heavy Hearts”

  1. Babe, if I had even half your wit, I’d think I was good.

    But I know what you’re saying. I’ve always had weight issues–hour story is my story. Add to that an instance in grade 3 when a fair, good looking sindhi girl told me I’d never get selected in the annual dance shows because I’m ugly.

    I grew up and tried to groom myself. Can’t say it worked but finding security in other things did. So dont give a damn. Also, your Twitter DP is one of the prettiest on my TL. Hugs.

  2. You and me, both!

    This sounds so familiar, I could have written every word.

    I have started to make an effort toward liking myself more, though. But I agree, it is hard and embarrassing. Especially when you walk into a store and have the sales-girl smile at you politely and tell you the specific size you need isn’t tailored or even sometimes that they have nothing for you.

    I do my best to lost the weight, I’m developing an active lifestyle, the works, but I simply love food. And spend a lot of time wondering, that if I did shed the flab, will I still want to be friends with people who rejected me based on physical appearance?

  3. I am a skinny girl but in many ways I have felt the things you have. I get many a compliments but women are not always kind to thin people either. There have been many nasty comments made to me. My point is that people are always scanning us & looking for something to criticize. Being fat is the easiest thing to poke fun at. I’m no saint, I laugh & crack fat people jokes too. I don’t know why I do it though. Your account has made me question this. I don’t know how our generation got this way or how we can chang it. I feel it’s similar to the fair=pretty, dark=ugly logic of our parents generation.

  4. It’s me, more than anything – I refuse to accept compliments under the guise of being coy. I immediately discount the fact that I could be remotely interesting to anyone, because, hey, look at me.

    This is so me. I really have a tough time to accept i am any good. I am working on that part of my life and yes , good friends always help you. Moreover , being fat is no way a parameter to judge anyone. Its hard to learn but once you overcome that , you can work on yourself better.

    You are awesome ! and will always be.

  5. Marry me! Lets make cute, adorable, FAT babies! 😀

  6. love u so much ani .. DEOLALI ZINDABAD.

  7. Just bloody Awesome!! I wish someone would hit this “A” on the head with a stool!! U aren’t the only one who is suffering from so called the ‘Fat Stigma’!! We all do…and we need to rise from that thought process. We are what we are and we should be Proud of it!!

  8. Beautifully worded. And rings so true. Something I have faced, something many others will have faced, in different extremes, in different circumstances.

    But one thing I can say – that point in life is wonderful when you finally learn to love yourself enough and it just changes everything. Cos well, haters will hate.

  9. This happens a LOT all over the world and is truly lamentable. If it’s not body fat, it’s bad skin. If it’s not bad skin, it’s skinny arms and legs. If it’s not even that, it’s something equally ridiculous. Even worse is the sentiment, ‘How did somebody who looks like *that* get so successful/land a good-looking husband/ace that presentation/have such beautiful kids?’ It just never goes away, this obsession with looks and how we equate a certain look with general likability and desirability.

    I love your post. It is beautifully expressed and extremely frank, and it made me think of all those times I have ragged my own tubby sister (and continue to do so) and even those times when I have wondered if I was ever going to look ‘nice’, despite being thin.

  10. You know love, when I first met you I was blown away by your personality, your energy, your nature, and the awesomeness that you are. Your expressions are to die for. Your looks are stunning and you are very beautiful. I am not saying this out of empathy, pity or compulsion. I truly believe what I am saying.

    And you are not alone in this struggle. I have always battled self esteem issues but over the time I have accepted that there will be people who will be thinner, more beautiful, and awesome than I am. It took me time to get there. Right now, I am trying hard to lose weight but it is a happy realisation that it is not because I want to look good to others. It is because I want to feel good for myself. It has been quite a journey but it has been a good one.

    People are forever trying to formulate beauty and looks even when that is not how it works. It is their loss and your gain. That way, there are less assholes and close-minded people to deal with. The ones who matter are there in your life and they love you a lot. Cherish yourself and drive this negativity out because you are beautiful and no one can change that.


  11. Reblogged this on Chew on it. and commented:
    I won’t even have the gut to write this. It’s tough, I try to change, but then I give up. Too lazy, always rationalising, finding other things to do and eventually just not losing weight is something that happens. Every day. I don’t want to give up. I want to try. I try to change and then the diets come in.
    But yes, I’ll remember the people who decided that me being fat is something that affects more than space. Not for revenge. I’m too soft to do that, no pun there. But just for a little note of how I am noted in their eyes and how I’d rather not be there at all.

  12. 1. You are not fat
    2. “A” sounds like a immature douche! You shouldn’t let that bother you anymore.
    3. As long as you are happy with yourself, nothing else matters. If you are not; only you can change that!

    PS: Happy Birthday! (rather Belated one)

  13. This is a honest post, its not easy to deal with negative body image issues…even If I am confident abt myself, rejection from another person is always a killer…it is hard for a lot of men to accept women who are not just overweight, but not conventionally ‘good looking’ in any way. A is an asshole, but the good thing you didnt waste anytime with him!! You will find someone who will like many nice things about you and wont care about how you look…its hard to find ppl like that, but hey, whats the point of being with assholes anyway? I got to this post through your twitter acct. I am @cynduja, btw nice knowing you!

  14. Reblogged this on Halfway To Neverland and commented:
    Wonderfully thought-provoking. Thank you, Anisha.

  15. There will be people who will tell you that they look past skin-deep beauty and see real beauty within. But I want to tell you that, apart from the inner light that you possess, you are one of the most beautiful people I know. My definition of beauty is different from his or hers. And in many people’s eyes, beautiful doesn’t mean fair and tall and skinny.
    And if I met you in a bar, I’d definitely chat you up 😉

  16. Sumthn I needid to read, hav had weight issues since sum years, managed to lose around 10kgs recently but am
    gainin it back slowly, I bake alot and end up munching those cookies at nite, anyways yes it hurts not fittin into clothes, iv tried shoppin for maternity wear also, I always thot that I will look n feel bettr wen I am at a certain weit but no I was wrong, u can feel n look gud at any weit, people judge all the time, just be youself and m seriously yet to see a person who lost weit and looked bettr than before, whr does all the glow on the face go?
    U are so talented and witty, just b urself and do wats best for u..lifes short and if u care for low lifes like that A person u will miss out on all the good things in life…food includid 🙂

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