Too fat or too thin, but never quite rightWomen get body-shamed no matter how much they weigh, should not let others deter from healthy living
This summer, I finally reached my weight goal after struggling for over two decades.
I gained over 20 kgs in high school in three months. It was a shock to me and my family, and ever since I have tried to lose weight. It did not just affect my self-esteem but also my health.
‘Moti’ became synonymous with my name.
‘How could you let yourself get so fat?’ people asked me.
They made fun of me when I was at my heaviest, and they continue to criticise me as I work towards being healthier.
I had tried everything possible to lose weight quickly, but as easy as it is to gain weight, it is as difficult to lose it. So when I finally managed to do it, I shared it on my social media, only to be met with backlash.
‘You looked better before.’
‘I would never deprive myself of food.’
‘Are you okay? We are worried about you.’
‘You have an eating disorder.’
In college, I did not live a healthy lifestyle. Partying, overindulging in food and alcohol, and barely sleeping did not help matters. I wanted to be healthy, but I was not doing anything to change my bad habits.
I am at a healthy weight now, and it is a result of daily exercise and a more nutritious diet of protein and vegetables. I stopped eating processed food and cut down my alcohol consumption. I never deprived myself of food, I only stopped overeating.
It is considered rude to comment when people gain a few extra kgs. But when someone loses a little weight, everybody thinks they have the right to comment on your body because it is coming from a place of ‘concern.’
But how did I gain all the weight in the first place? I was 17, living in Italy. I was having pizza and gelato every day but never exercised. I could not walk half a mile without having to rest or catch my breath. I once even sprained both my ankles because I fell while walking.
When Covid forced us all into lockdown, I decided to make it happen, achieve my weight goals.
It was not easy, the most challenging part was being disciplined. But after three months of consistency and daily exercise without giving up, I noticed that I had lost weight and did not have the stomach issues I used to. It took time, but I started to enjoy healthier foods, I began to feel better and happier, and I was not always hungry like I used to be.
It takes work, but people are quick to judge and call it deprivation. Many tried to school me when I tried to stick to my diet. When I shared my little victories, they called me vain because I felt the need to lose weight, and some even told me I had an eating disorder. I felt attacked. Instead of support, I was called shallow.
Most of these people did not even know me or the amount of work I was putting into this. Much of the reproach also comes from individuals who are not happy with themselves so they take it out on others. There is no polite way to put it, it is just the truth.
But for the first time in years, I am happy with how I look and feel, I have been waiting for years to experience this. I can walk for miles. I no longer have to worry about having stomachache when eating out.
This is the healthiest relationship I have ever had with food. I enjoy eating, I cook a lot, and food has become a positive part of my life.
I am just shocked and disheartened by people’s reactions. I did not expect everyone to help me in my process, but I also did not think I would receive this much hate or people would think they have the right to tell me how I should look.
We hate it when someone comments on our body, so what makes it acceptable to comment on others? People will always have opinions, but why be so cruel?
So, if you do not have any words of encouragement or something positive to say, it is better to say nothing at all.
We have the right to love our bodies. After 20 years of struggling with my weight, I finally feel healthy. I am happy with how far I have come. I am proud of myself, and I will not let anyone shame me for my body.
Anjana Rajbhandary writes this fortnightly Nepali Times column Life Time about mental health, physical health and socio-cultural issues.