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I was body shamed at family gatherings.

Growing up, I hadn’t really been ‘fat’ or ‘chubby’. But as soon as I hit puberty, my lifestyle and eating habits changed drastically. And these bad eating habits led to excessive weight gain. Originally, no one at home pointed out these weight gain problems to me, perhaps because they are more sensitive as parents to your problems and needs. But as I began to attend family functions and other social gatherings, I started noticing the whispers that followed as soon as I entered the room. And soon after that, came the teasing and taunting. The subtle remarks of “but you weren’t this fat before”, “you looked much pretty before”, “you’ll have to buy new clothes since most of them won’t fit you, isn’t it?” started coming in, and the one that actually hit harder than it was supposed to was “this is why I don’t let my daughter eat too much junk food”.

The worst part of all this was the ‘weight loss tips’. The unsolicited advice that was accompanied by a fake concern for my well-being. I found myself facing the brunt of the family jokes, being nicknamed “fatso,” “moti,” and my cousins started calling me “jumbo” as a joke. Somehow, all this “joking” affected me severely. I stopped going places with my family; I started wearing baggy clothes in the hopes of hiding myself; and I drove myself insane, believing that everyone around me was actually concerned about my weight and was internally mocking me.

I started regressing socially. I stopped talking to people, didn’t put in any effort to make friends, and avoided any and all social interactions in school. It seemed like I’d turned from this happy, cheery, vibrant person who loved debating into this shell of a person who started hyperventilating at the mere idea of being on stage in front of so many people. I hated socializing since I was convinced that everyone around me would be there to make fun of me anyway. I developed this insane notion that I was disliked because of my weight. And to cement these absurd ideas, the boys in my class barely spoke to me. I had only one friend, and I spoke to very few people.

I always seemed to walk on eggshells, thinking that my weight made me less worthy as a human, and that I didn’t deserve basic human kindness and empathy just because I was “fat.” Somehow, amidst all this teasing and fat shaming, I assumed that “fat people” were almost like second-class citizens, undeserving of company, patience, or understanding.

Sensing my insecurities and how they were debilitating me, my parents insisted that I start undergoing therapy. Initially, speaking to someone else, least of all about my weight, seemed like the most foolish idea ever. But my parents helped change my view, and I agreed to give therapy a try.

As I started going for therapy, the counsellor made me feel very comfortable. Like most people around me, she did not ask me to lose my weight and accepted me as I was. After a few sessions, I started to understand myself better. I began to comprehend that people’s opinions of me didn’t matter and that I was perfectly fine just the way I was. Through therapy, I proceeded to separate myself from others’ ideas of who I am as an individual. I started identifying myself as not just a figure on a weighing scale, but as a human being who deserved compassion, love, and understanding. I finally understood that all the ranting and body shaming didn’t reflect who I was as a person, and that my baseless thoughts were actually unfounded. I started to realise that what matters is how I view myself and not what others think of me. Through therapy, I slowly began to grow out of the shell I had shoved myself into. I began making new friends, began socializing, and above all, I stopped presuming that people’s opinions and dispositions towards me were an exact reflection of me and realized that my weight didn’t define my worth as a person. I’m not perfect, but then again, no one is. And I’ve gradually but unquestionably started believing that.

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