by Kanak Jha
I never felt conscious of my body image until I was called “chunky.”
I have always been quite confident. I embraced my personality, my strengths, my weaknesses and my curves at a very young age and I loved being me. I often told my sister that I couldn’t remember the last time I felt truly insecure. I don’t mean the last time I felt a dress wasn’t flattering or my need to hide inevitable stretch marks, but truly insecure. Insecure as in feeling uncomfortable to leave the house or to see people you know out of fear of their judgment. Of course, insecurity also means hating the once enjoyable act of shopping because the clothes just don’t sit right.
At 20, I finally recognized insecurity. It came from something very painful and personal. People I knew, whom I had trusted and confided in, were calling me “chunky” behind my back. They had made it their business to evaluate my body fat content, to make my weight a topic of public discussion and forgotten that I was a human being with feelings.
I do not know, nor will I ever know why it came up or why one of my friends even felt the need to tell me. What I do know is that we need to stop fat shaming. The truth is, girls come in all shapes and size.
Typically I have found myself surrounded by young Indian Americans or desis who tend to be thinner and less curvy than other girls. Perhaps that is what prompted the discussion amongst the people who called me “chunky.” The fact that I am not shaped like the other girls seen on my Instagram or Facebook feeds made me a target.
If I am the target for those hurtful, pointed arrows that are meant to bring me down, then I have a message for those who thought they could topple my confidence. In a society obsessed with weight and beauty, you are adding to the reasons that eating disorders and insecurity are rising. In the U.S.A. alone, it is estimated that 10 million females and one million males suffer from eating disorders.
Weight should not be a topic of discussion, whether it is pregnant Kim Kardashian or your classmate. Fat-shaming has to stop; hiding insecurities by pointing fingers at others has to stop. Only then can we work towards a society that can help prevent eating and body image disorders.
All of this begins with you. Find the beauty within, respect those around you and before you call anyone “chunky” again, put yourself in their shoes.