As we live in a world that puts a lot of stock in outer appearances, the scope of body shaming is wide and can include shaming for being fat, dark, stout, too thin, and the list goes on. Last week when I went to meet my Dadi after months, the first sentence she uttered in her usual Sylheti dialect was “tui Kaala hoi gesos” (your complexion turned darker). Well I do not blame my 90-year-old grandmother. Society has conditioned her into believing that the very idea of beauty is only attached to skin fairness and so my dusky tanned skin tone genuinely concerns her.
Last year I faced health issues and went under strong medication. As a result, I ended up gaining weight and guess what! I came across some mean remarks from my immediate relative. At a dawat, my shejo mami mocked me deliberately in front of the whole family. ‘You have double chin’ she said thrice in a sarcastic tone and suggested me to have apple cider vinegar to reduce my weight. The next time she saw me she said ‘I could not recognize you as you look like a fat aunty now’. I maintained silence even after knowing my silence promotes her body shaming and bullying. While body shaming, in itself is not a crime, there are circumstances in which invading one’s privacy to accomplish it can be. And we should not tolerate that.
We have all heard the phrase “everyone’s different”. But sadly when it comes to weight and skin color we forget the phrase. It’s high time we change our perception. We can encourage and work on body acceptance. Make a conscious effort not to follow greetings by comment like “wow, you have lost weight, you look great”. Instead try something more meaningful like “good to see you after so long, how are you?”
Thankfully the notion of body shaming is being brought up more often in recent days, and there have been major advancements in the society’s perception of what it is really like to be a woman- varying sizes, colors, and personalities-there’s still work to be done. So, let’s all talk out aloud against body shaming.