If my body could tell you...
Updated: Nov 8, 2021
- Aparajita Biswas & HuWoman
Whenever we talk of body image, we really focus on the “image” part of it, based on what others have to say, contrary to what the definition REALLY is about. The definition of the body image relates to a person's feelings and perceptions of the beauty or sexual attractiveness of their own body. Their “OWN” body, sis, and not what others think.
IT IS ABOUT WHAT YOU think about YOUR OWN BODY.
I do know that opinions will dilute the fact that you are as beautiful as the truth is. Anyone who tells you that beauty is only on the inside is lying to you, because if you are already beautiful in your intentions, you are DROP, dead gorgeous on the outside as well.
I shall now begin ranting (a normal practice that I indulge in) until we build a clear perception on the damaging truth of what body image is sadly perceived as, and what body image really should be.
Am I eligible to give you an explanation? To be true, we all are, except I do believe I am a doctorate in the field, because throughout the quarantine, I have gone down twenty Kgs, from “too chubby”, to “too weirdly skinny” to “too muscular” and back to “chubby but not too chubby”. How much longer will you waste, feeling unworthy and trying to fit in to people's expectations?
HEALTH in mind, body and spirit is important, and building a healthy body image is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT, and it starts with SELF-RESPECT (Something you and I definitely can improve on.)
It starts with respecting your body with healthy nutrients and exercise, and with a circle of healthy relationships, devoid of sycophants and toxic commentary, to allow a perennial move towards achieving a healthy body image.
“Big boobs, small waist and big booties” are not your goal, sister, because you do not exist for the male gaze, and even if you have them, there might be people commenting on how it could be a bit bigger, or smaller or rounder. High-school geometry is enough crap to deal with and you could best do in avoiding enervating geometrical suggestions.
Our relationship with our bodies is a rather complicated one. Women’s bodies are constantly under judgements and are monitored as per the male gaze. “Men prefer more meat on the bones” or “men prefer thinner waists “and other such bull-crap. Among the thousand issues that threaten women’s bodily autonomy, is this constant perpetuation of the idea set about by jobless, toxic mongrels who may either be those narcissist men, or self-obsessed women who haven’t seen life beyond pleasing those pillars of patriarchy.
When we talk of body image, we often talk of “Body positivity’, which is well used across commercial fashion lines, to celebrate all bodies, and many people think that the body positive movement has created an unhealthy culture that allows people to not give any regard to the medical complications that often come with obesity. With it comes insecurity, belied under the camouflage of empowerment when women with curves, through their insecurity, come forth by saying “Real women have curves” and belittling those with flatter stomachs and shaming models by claiming that they are too skinny. REAL WOMEN HAVE SELF-RESPECT, SISTER! “Everybody has imperfections and perfect bodies are unreal” is a popularized notion to seek validity, while injuring those who may have such bodies. The strife to achieve the perfectly hypersexualized bodies that Instagram is filled with, brings indulgence in practices like disordered eating, corset waist trainings or posing in angles, and the obsession to look “sexy” has created a rather shallow outlook to life. Medical professionals state that there is an unhealthy weight and a healthy weight, which is extremely different from being “skinny” or “fat”. We can be thin and unhealthy or overweight and unhealthy, but thin and overweight are all relative terms. A person with seeming perfect body may be extremely unhealthy or hardly beautiful as an individual (unlike me, but to me, my body is perfect but I do my best to be the best human being, but I also believe I could get healthier). THE DEBATE is exhausting because the definition of perfect will always change based on who you are and who they are. For instance, I may have perfectly pouted lips, but some people have called me “Donald Duck” or “Choocho” in Bengali, which translates to a shrew. Did I mind? Yes, but not anymore. Being called names seems cool to me. The trouble taken behind observing my features and naming me specially takes a lot of effort and I appreciate it, because none of us have a lot of time.
People obsess over their appearances that they forget all the other important aspects of their life and individuality but on a more intimate perspective of self-development in the field of building a “positive” body image, we ought to embrace the terms “body neutrality” and “body acceptance”.
Body neutrality goes in the perspective of accepting your body as is and recognizing its amazing abilities and non-physical characteristics instead of the physical appearance. Your legs may be thick or thin, but who CARES? YOUR LEGS LET YOU RUN! RUN, GIRL, RUN! Enjoy what your legs can do!
This response to body positive movement and its exhaustive pressure on self-love and just the body image being countered by ‘body-neutrality’, is refreshing for it looks at women’s achievements and morality of the heart and that has nothing to do with their appearance. It completely lifts the focus off a woman’s body. It focuses on the idea that the body doesn’t define a person and gives space to people who exist on the margins, without the pressure of loving one’s body. For instance, let us look at the women scientists such as Emmanuelle Charpentier or Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, or women in sports, such as Simone Biles or Mary Kom. We talk of their achievements, and not their body!
Body acceptance is defined as accepting one's body regardless of not being completely satisfied with all aspects of it, and that’s the beauty of it. Improve, through health, if needed. It’s really that simple. HEALTH is beauty. For instance, hip dips are the heat of dispute now. While I agree that in many cases, hip dips are a natural bone structure in most women, and nothing to get "rid off" as workouts suggest, I am going to have to accept that my hip dips have taken shape recently, in regards to my weight gain and I am not going to go about embracing it because I haven't been healthy, but accept it because I had a hard phase but I need to start about losing those hip dips by getting healthier. It's really health in the end!
Body dysmorphic disorder also known as body dysmorphia, is a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance, and it can be emotionally distressing and can take a toll on your daily mental health, and in fact can make it harder to get set on healthy measures and get on with daily activities.
Society’s opinions about body image are generally shaped by the media, the beauty industry and outdated ideas of health and fitness, so why care?
As much as you hate mansplaining, let’s not deny that there is a massive amount of it here too and here you are listening to their banter about what you need to do to gain their approval.
Your revenge should not be the “revenge-body” you see on the media. Your revenge is gaining a healthy body-image and being satisfied with yourself. That would shut the unwarranted comments from the random aunties once they see that you are not troubled. Let that sink in.
What I was really getting to, is in regards to the “male gaze” which, from the hyper sexualization of the body to underappreciation, unhealthy comparisons and cheating partners, that severely affects many women in terms of their body image, and it takes a lot of healing and positive self-talk to get where you are and accept it by focusing on the bigger picture. Trust me. Working to be a better person morally, a better friend to your true circle and holding greater priorities in talents and career will automatically help you achieve satisfaction with the whole body image dilemma. Being constantly fed images of a “desirable” female body, women have turned to self-objectification. Not only are they trying to present themselves as desirable but that is all they have reduced their worth to.
It takes time working on that, especially when you have spent decades feeling unloved and feeling undesired but it’s time you start respecting yourself.
Bad grades, breakups, loss of loved ones and other bad happenings take place in life, things which you might have no control over. You may feel grappled by the notion of having fallen off the wagon, when the new girl who has “replaced” you is probably out there gymming, or memories of happier times of academic success and beloved people whom you miss come rushing through and here you are coping through, perhaps by eating more and you may have put up a few pounds, but then, if you keep hating on yourself and comparing, how will you cope to build a healthy body image?
Remember, tomorrow is another day and they can try, but they NEVER will be you, baby girl!
A DAY FROM MY (A's) LIFE
It was September and it was four in the morning and I gazed into the mirror, hating my reflection, wanting my hips to be a bit thinner, my breasts a bit bigger, the thighs a bit more toned, and a sigh followed from one mirror to another dark window. I used to run away at the sight of anything that showed my reflection a few months back, so perhaps, I have improved? “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”, a banal, but is it not true? People had to say things when I was chubbier, and when I finally got thinner, there were other girls who were still sexier to them? Another sigh and then I opened Instagram. “Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty had stomach rolls and curves, so why can’t you?”, and everyone posting it were women with “curves”. Another group of women were posting about, "If Bella Hadid can rock that body, it is okay to have no curves and it is healthy and sexy that way, in that "Mama said that it was okay" reel". This Mama here was so done with all this that she put her head down and wasted a whole hour when she could have studied.
Perceptions and opinions about what an “ideal” body or a perfect body is, and the whole cacophony of it, has been a long-standing debate of what I would otherwise call, rather shallow and parochial, while also being highly injurious to self-worth. If you’ve not been a bitch, you’re beautiful. I’ve seen people shame models over their flat figures and then go on to call them fake. We have also seen insecurities arise due to weight gain and stomach rolls or being “flat”. Your body is a body. You are beautiful and hot as long as you are kind and healthy mentally, emotionally and try to pursue healthy habits. I WILL REPEAT THIS AS MANY AS TIMES AS NEEDED UNTIL YOU (and I too) GET THE CONCEPT!
We don’t want any revenge bodies, darling but a revenge mind. If that revenge mind is happy and strong, go for that body of your dreams, as long as it is genetically and health-wise achievable.
Embrace your GENES. They make you special. The one worthy of you will know you are worth it so lets step up the game and lets end the damaging debate of body. BLIMEY! IT'S EXHAUSTING! UGHH!
As common as it might be, it may have wrecking consequences of anxiety and depression and give rise to other harmful behaviours. It can hinder us from preparing for exams, being productive, working out or giving the best in relationships and this may build a guilt cycle.
SO LETS BE THERE FOR EACH OTHER! But how? The following list may act as a guide!
1. BE COMPLACENT WITH COMPLIMENTS!!!
We don’t listen to friends, do we, when they tell us we are hot and gorgeous? We listen to others, and then we all want to hold our own share of melodrama at four am in front of the mirror hating ourselves. Hence, when I am talking about “others”, I am talking about that dude you see the “Romeo” of your life in, and the other self-obsessed chameleons who probably think the world revolves around their ‘sexiness’. SO, step number one: Stop listening to the others. Listen to your friends and family who aren't toxic. LISTEN TO ME.YOU ARE AS HOT, GORGEOUS, BEAUTIFUL AND SEXY AS THE PERSON YOUR ARE. You’ll become accustomed to that. I KNOW IT'S DIFFICULT BUT ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS LISTEN TO YOUR WELL-WISHERS.
2. AVOID TRIGGERING COMMENTS around food or weight especially if you know that a person has been struggling. For example, asking someone to eat more or less, or commenting on changes of weight or calling someone "unhealthy/sick" or asking what diet and exercise they are on. I remember pleading people to stop asking me such questions but they went on, not realizing they were not compliments or "concerns". Move away from such circles or be open to sharing out how you feel about it. For those commenting, it is often easy to recognize or at least be consciously empathetic to the "concerned" individual.
3. You could remind them about how valuable their body is to them and how it functions and what it lets them do.
4. Don't blame them and don't guilt trip. Bad things happen. Reassure them.
5. If talking it out is difficult, you could send your friends songs from people that promote body positivity like "Juice" by Lizzo or Instagram accounts of those who represent their body types and a range of celebrated models, be it Bella Hadid or Ashley Graham and share stories of celebrities who have come up with similar experiences and are using their platform to raise awareness, such as Jameela Jamil!
6. LISTEN.LISTEN.LISTEN. Love them. Be there for them. Don't ignore them. Don't leave them when they may need you the most.(Some left in my case, but my true friends always stick by)
Now off you go to the mirror, kiss your hot reflection (if the mirror is clean), take a good selfie and take out those clothes you have been hiding.
REMEMBER: The definition of the body image relates to a person's feelings and perceptions of the beauty or sexual attractiveness of their own body. Their “OWN” body.