‘The love I had for so many boys was erased by the size of my butt’

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A SERIES ON TRUE EXPERIENCES
BODY IMAGE

I CANNOT remember a time when I was not fat, though photographs prove that there was indeed such a time. I can’t count the number of times strangers have interfered in what I was doing to give me earnest advice on weight loss. I began by uncomfortably responding to them. It got to the point where I would pretend ignorance, as if to say, “Who me? Fat? Naw!” It didn’t help though. There was always a hint of shame. After all I was the fat one and they were just being nice or funny by offering advice. It’s not personal they would say to lessen their guilt. But, it was deeply personal to me.

It was deeply personal to me that the first love of my life told me I was only attractive when he was drunk. It was deeply personal that I never went on a date until I was 24. It was deeply personal to me that all the love I had for so many boys was erased by the size of my butt. It was deeply personal to me that I was less likely to be offered a job than a woman or a man not half as smart as I am, because I am fat. What made it worse was that it wasn’t my fault, well mostly. And I couldn’t afford to imagine there was a quick fix to all of these problems.

Illustration: Samia Singh

There even was a time when I could not have a serious conversation with my family because it will always come around to the highly contentious subject of my weight. I felt helpless because I couldn’t change overnight to suit them.

I am always complimented on my “sense of humour”; I am always “one of the guys”; I am the “sweet” girl. I have also been the butt (hurr hurr) of innumerable jokes; I don’t even notice anymore the little children who walk past on the road and yell moti. I cannot buy clothes in stores in this country, and the clothes that I do buy abroad draw innumerable stares — as if to say, “Wait, you’re a fat girl, why fashionable clothes?”

I developed an ‘attitude’ to combat the ‘niceness’ of other people, an attitude that often creates problems because it is a little too loud, as if to say, “Yo! I’m talking, and I’m making the jokes, so you ain’t laughing at me, you laughing with me.” I never admitted it to myself when I fell in love. I still tread warily, literally, and scrutinise every chair I’m planting myself on. I tried to ignore all the people and things who told me I was fat. I even told my friends they would never make fat jokes if they loved me because they knew how much it hurt me to be reminded of my weight.

Then, in 2006, I moved to New York. Suddenly, boys were flirting with me. Suddenly, they had clothes in the stores that were loose for me. Suddenly, that giant butt of mine was an asset (I promise, it’s the last one). I learned that I could indeed dance, and all my jowls and bulges turned surprisingly light on my feet. Two years there changed me completely. There was a time when I used to hide behind my weight. I didn’t do much with my life because I had a convenient excuse for depression and failure. Don’t get me wrong, I’m the same size, if not larger, than I was in 2006. It’s just the inside of my head that changed. Now, I know that jokes are jokes and I can wait for you to make them and snigger appreciatively. I can make them right back at you, instead of fidgeting nervously and going home to cry. I am not sitting there and waiting for the barb, wincing in anticipation. If you give me unsolicited advice on weight loss, I will happily and gruesomely enter into a deep discussion of every, and I mean every method (yes even that spa with the enemas) I have heard of or tried. Now, I will tell you what you want, but before you can say it.

All those years sitting on the bar stool, watching the boys flock to my prettier girlfriends; the years of boys only talking to me for my friends’ numbers and nothing else. What a waste of teenage drama.

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