Dark, Short, Fat Girl … No Takers!!

Pregnancy across the world but more so in India is like Russian Roulette … Every single person who is even remotely related to the “pregnant couple” (and I use the phrase “pregnant couple” because I refuse to separate the capability of physical impregnation with mental and emotional pregnancy … It has to be as much a man’s bane as a woman’s blessing) claims to have a stake in the outcome or at least awaits it outcome with much anticipation and apprehension. From betting on the gender of the child (thank god for small mercies like PNDT Act) to who will the child look like to who will name the child … everything is subjected to betting. Had wager been legalized in India, it would have been the biggest and the worst form of wagering. This post, however, is not about the pregnancy … I am not qualified to pen down a post on pregnancy … Well … Not yet, at least. But what I am qualified to write about is my experience as someone who has witnessed other women being pressurized to have a fair baby and more so, if it is a baby girl. Such pressures kill the joy of child bearing and the child ceases to be an outcome of love the parents to be shared. Instead it becomes a personification of pride associated with giving birth to a fair child. Poor kid!! Wait till you grow up … This is just the beginning of pressure !!

This post is about body shaming … Yes!! Body shaming is an inextricable part of the Indian culture and all of us have only added to it. Not even once, has someone stood up and said … I am okay with a dark, short, fat baby … I will love the baby for who he or she is. My love for my child shall not be dependent upon how he or she looks. Well … Some of you reading this post, might disagree with me … And disagree you should but exactly how many times did you not feel bad for a person whose daughter wasn’t getting married because of her appearance. It goes so deep that there are times when even we aren’t aware of its existence. It is the sheer obsession with fairness, with thinness, with shapely bodies … !! It is amazing how the classified columns in the newspaper are always LOOKING FOR A FAIR, TALL, THIN, GIRL …

I have struggled with weight all my life … People who are gentle towards me have often said … “khaate peete ghar ki Punjabi ladki hai” … Some of the lewd ones have said … “You are just voluptuous” … Those I hate have said … “You need to lose weight, you look way older than you are” … I am grateful for all those who said it out of concern and love … But has it occurred to anyone that I am extremely happy with the way I look. So long as I can carry myself and perform my daily chores and have the energy to work and run my home … I really couldn’t care less. While I am not denying that being overweight has perils of its own but where is it written that you will not fall ill if you have a perfect 10 body? I get alarmed when a certain brand of clothing tells me … “Ma’am, we only cater to women who are less than or up to size 18” … My question is … Exactly why do you do that when you know there are women who are size 24 … I get irritated when I see brands cater to plus size women … Why should there be separate brands for big people? Being big does not mean you are ostracized. But guess what … You are!! Not just by people around them but by brands, by faceless companies who search for “good looking receptionists” rather than efficient ones etc. etc. It all seems like a conspiracy against those who do not “fit in” in the society of good looking people.

As if bodies weren’t enough to humiliate a person … Lets go a step further and talk about the color of skin!! I have often been told that I am blessed to have fair complexion (when I absolutely adore dusky skin tones) … Why should I consider being fair a blessing when I have spent days being smeared in suntan oil on the beaches of different parts of the world trying to be brown and often ended up looking like a monkey’s bottom … RED!!! Consequently, I don’t like beaches anymore but then that’s a story for another day. I am fair and that is because my genetic make-up. NOTHING MORE. The fact that the Indian markets are the biggest consumers of fairness products is an indication of how deep rooted this problem is. The stigma attached to being brown or black is probably is worse than being fat because in case of latter you can get endless surgeries done(if you have the money)to suck all the fat out and feel nice about a body which doesn’t seem yours anymore … Yes … I love my curves and the feel of my skin … They are so me … All over the place!!! (Bad joke … I get it)

An entire election is being fought on the basis of the feelings the contesting parties have for black people. I always thought the world has only two kinds of people … the good ones and the not-so-good ones. But I was wrong. It is increasingly being polarized into the “good looking” people and the “not so good looking” people.

I recently conducted a workshop on soft skills, communication, interview strategies … After the workshop I had left the floor open for individual interaction and discussion. What aghast me the most were the questions from a bunch of young girls asking me how important are good looks in an interview? Apart from being tongue tied and baffled, I also wondered the root of such questions. This morning one of the girls from that group called me up to tell me how she had to buy an entire new wardrobe for her internship which begins next week. It was that phone call which made me pen down this post. I don’t remember paying attention to how I appeared during my internship days. May be I am a little more cavalier than I should be towards my looks but then I don’t remember any of my friends bestowing much importance upon their clothes either. To look professional is important, to look fancy is not. To look clean and well-kept is important, to look glamorous is not. Apartheid ended in 1994 only to assume much greater and devious proportions in our heads for now it is no longer limited to the color of your skin and it is no longer within the confines of the borders of Africa. It is everywhere – from newspaper columns to coffee shops.

I have never been on the receiving end of such prejudices because my family and the man I got married to are bigger advocates of “going beyond what is on display” … But their opinion about me does not stop them for feeling bad about their relatives and friends whose kids are not getting married because of their height or weight or color or any two of them or all three of them. I have seen marriages break because of the post pregnancy weight gained by the woman or because her husband “fell in love” with a younger, hotter and better looking girl …

Such prejudices aren’t limited to mind-set. They plague every single aspect of our life … Lets take the most widely spoken language … English … The term “fair” is used for everything which is right and acceptable whereas the word “dark” is the exact opposite of all that being “fair” stands for. This discrimination goes much deeper than we think or care to think about. Body-shaming is omnipresent and our attempts to deal with it must begin with accepting ourselves. The day I am comfortable with my skin tone and the whole of my 150 kgs I shall have won. The day I stop searching for a “fair, tall, thin” girl for my son, I have won. The day the fairness creams on my dressing table are thrown in the trash bin, I have won. The day I love every single part of my body and feel gratitude for its existence and functioning, I have won … Till then, lets keep betting on every pregnant woman and pray she delivers a “fair” baby …

With love … Sugarsatchet

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5 Comments

    1. If being dark is a bane in our society…. So is being a woman…. For there’s only so much even ‘fair’ girls are worthy of – being trophy wives or trophy bahus… And why is this happening? Because we let it go on

      Liked by 1 person

      1. True. Hence, we need to change we view people. You are beautiful, we all know that. Think about those who aren’t … That girl in our college with distorted face!! I kept thinking about her the whole time I was writing this

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks Eva … I have been a victim of such prejudices as well and so have a few other people we commonly know. It is just not done. We are what we are from within and not what we put on display. I so wish people could go beyond the obvious.

      Liked by 1 person

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