My earliest memory is of random adults referring to me as “gappoo cheeks” and “ aww she’s so cute! Motooo si.”
It was expression of love but what they didn’t realise ( and neither did I till much later) that they were fat shaming me as a child.
It started with my siblings and cousins making fun of me and calling me “Abida Perveen” as a joke. Completely innocent. They actually had no idea that they are scarring me for life ( so no hard feelings my dear sisters and cousins. But don’t do it to anyone else. Please.)
Then it was, probably innocent and absolutely ignorant comments of my friends and peers about how my
stomach bulges out. Or that I eat a lot. Or a general habit of calling me “moti “. And the ultimate: “moti hai Lekin shakal pyari hai.”
I was chubby. Yes. And that was the case till Grade 10. But it was rubbed into my face so much and so often that it became a mad obsession to lose weight. I started starving. Literally. To the extent that I fainted in Liberty Market and hit my head on a slab of cement when I was in College. I developed ulcers because I killed my hunger with infinite cups of tea. My monthly cycle became crazily erratic. But I didn’t stop because I never realised this was the cause of those problems. And if I did, it didn’t matter. What matters was that I lose this annoying weight which had killed my self esteem.
I lost A LOT of weight in College. But I never ever thought it was enough. I would never believe if people said I’m thin now. I would always look at myself critically.
Got married at the age of 24. To my best friend, who was happy with exactly how I was. But did I believe him? No! He kept saying that what matters is that I’m happy and healthy but I thought he’s just saying that because he doesn’t want me to think low of myself. By then I had lost a lot of weight but still believed I was a fat bride. Believed that I’m not a good match for my “handsome and young” husband. Then I started believing ( only because I gave needlessly excessive power to other people’s opinion) that since I’m “overweight” and I look older than him (never once said by husband by the way).
I now think how I’ve wasted so many precious moments by not believing him and constantly paying attention to people who shouldn’t have mattered at all. I stopped getting photographed with him. Just for this reason. I stopped socialising. Went into a shell. I’ve had massive health issues ( probably because I’d ruined my system because of the infinite kinds of diets I experimented with in my teenage years). My belief was simple. I can look good and be valued ONLY if I am thin.
I finally got pregnant after 4 years ( Alhamdullillah) . Obviously gained weight ( only 15 kgs in total which I thought was a disaster.) Then started another episode of an obsession to lose weight.
All over again. This really affected the early years of my toddler son’s childhood and my marital relationship. Since my husband wanted more kids, what followed was one miscarriage, one stillbirth (twins) and then a daughter (Alhamdullillah) in 2014. All through these TOUGH few years the thought of how I will lose weight always remained as important as the prayer that I have a healthy child. But I did remain in my shell. I have always managed to act confident in public, because I am a SUPER private person, but the truth is that I have been the most cruel, unfair and absolutely absurd critic of myself.
After my daughter I took it on as a project. Aim in life: lose weight. Buss. Nothing else. No
matter what it takes. Do it.
And I did it. But you know what? I STILL managed to find flaws in myself. Every single time.
One irrelevant sentence like “Have you gained weight?” Or “Are you expecting again?” Or “
Thori chubby ho na?” Or “You’re so pretty but only if you can lose 10-15 pounds you can be so
hot!” “Kha lo. Koi baat nahin. Itni ziada moti to nahin ho.” “Haye. Becahri. Saari zindagi diet karni
The word “fat” has given me sleepless nights.
At the age of 40 I finally told myself “Enough”! I’m being absolutely STUPID. This is just not worth the so many years of my life that I’ve wasted. So many meals that I’ve not touched. So many clothes in my closet that I never wore ( I actually gave away 80% of pre baby clothes because I believed I’ll never ever fit in them again). So many clothes that I bought but never wore because I later thought they make me look fat.
Everyone in the world can tell me that I look great, but the only word that mattered was “thin”. I have never liked Abida Perveen as a singer because of the baggage I was carrying. I wouldn’t let myself get tagged in pictures because I thought I’m not looking thin enough.
It became a mental disorder and only I could control it.
Now I’ve trained myself. Slowly and steadily. I’m now a staunch advocate for exercise and healthy eating. Because health and energy is so much more important than “looking good”. I finally understood how ungrateful I’ve been. For always focusing on the one negative and never appreciating the countless positives I’ve been blessed with.
I will never encourage obesity because it’s a risk to one’s health. My husband and I exercise regularly and eat healthy. We tell our kids the importance of exercise and make sure they follow a healthy routine because that’s what they need to do to remain healthy, happy and active, but I have promised myself to never use the word “fat” or the phrase “lose weight because you don’t look good” with them.
It’s time to drop the overweight baggage I’ve been carrying around all my life.