Just this morning, a colleague, much older to me, with twin teenage daughters told me something which sent me down memory lane:
The said colleague C is kind of short (short, as in height). Her husband though taller than her, is also short. Their twin daughters are short as well. A neighbour’s child in their apartment complex teased one of the daughters for being short, and said his brother, who is probably 8 years old, will soon be taller than the said daughter. The colleague also told me that both daughters spent the night crying into their mother’s lap. They also wanted the mother to go back downstairs and yell at the bullying kid/his mom.
The above narration made me remember my past, when my father often teased me for being fat, though I was not an obese child. However, I do remember having issues – may be even an inferiority complex with my size and how I looked. While my father encouraged me, and even taught me some very good floor exercises, one memory stands out as particularly humiliating.
I spent my 7th standard summer vacation at my grandparent’s place. At that age, I did not watch my food. I ate what I wanted. I think I had gained a lot of weight during the said vacation. Because on my return, my mother told me that father was mighty angry at how fat I had become. Dad did not tell me any of it during our train ride back home. I don’t remember whether he expressed his displeasure at my weight in any other way, except wanting me to go to a doctor’s clinic at the corner of our street every week to weigh in and report my weight to him. I was also to do the exercises he taught me. I hated the idea of having to go to the doctor’s and having my weight checked. Even more, I hated reporting it back to my father. I remember thinking that my weight was a very private figure, and no one had the right to know it. My father just got angrier each time I did not go to the doc and gave me lectures after lectures. I never said much back to him. I stood mute, just waiting for the session to be over, and would spend many nights crying in bed. No one knew I cried. Not even my mother. But what was growing inside me, was a feeling that I was downright ugly because I was fat, that father was embarrassed because of my weight, that mother supported his ideology and all of that made me avoid thinking about weight loss. Because thinking about my weight got me face to face with the ugliest person in the world.
Many years later, as I got engaged to my husband, my thoughts on weight loss and fatness were pretty much the same. I was over-weight, though not obese at the time of my engagement. And most of last 10 kgs had come from eating that was triggered by depression following an earlier broken engagement (from a proposal my parents set up). At the time of my engagement to my husband, my morale and self image was at an all time low. I then went on to get married, pregnant and had a baby. The birth of my son, was rather dramatic, with my falling, fracturing both feet and being wheeled in for an emergency caesarean section. The end result was that I weighed 100+ kgs.
This morning I weighed 84.3 kgs, and am aiming to reach a “normal” weight, by following healthy eating habits and exercise. While no one really demanded that I lose weight, except the doctor’s of course, I was my own master. I felt I had to, and have come this far. If I need to pin point, that particular instant that motivated to lose weight, it was this:
When I was in hospital after the caesarean and with broken feet, there were times when I had to carried, pushed in a wheel chair etc. My husband did it most gracefully. Never once commenting that it was difficult, but rather encouraging me saying that his physique was strong enough to handle my weight. I knew this was the last time I let my weight trouble me so much. I had had it!
The purpose of this post is that, I’ve looked at how “comments” about a person’s looks can do so much to his/her psyche. While the person saying it (in my case, Dad) may not have intended to insult me, the result was that my feelings about my weight have had a huge influence on the personality that I am. Certainly, I am not a bad person because I am fat or hated my looks, but my fatness and looks still influence me, the way I think and my sensitivity levels.
How can one teach a child that looks are not the most important thing in this world? That it is more important to love one self and his/her body , and not abuse it because X, Y or Z says some random stuff?