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The unbearable weightage of being


Sushmita Bose

Published: Thu 11 Mar 2021, 4:21 PM

I know body-shaming is a thing these days. A bad thing. If anyone is overweight (of course, being ‘overweight’ is an entirely subjective perception drawn on various social media platforms), or even just a wee more grams on the wrong side of “ideal weight”, that doesn’t mean judgements shouldn’t be drawn. I’m all for that.

But I face a problem of an inverse kind. In my mind, I’m fairly far-removed from “ideal weight” — cue to my desperate attempts to cut out sugar from daily diets and starting some workout regimen with help from (YouTube divas) Lucy Wyndham and April Han, and failing spectacularly each time — and yet, whenever I meet some people, I’m greeted with, “Gosh, how much weight have you lost, are you planning to disappear from the scene altogether?” I hear this over and over again, from the same set, so I have to ask them, “You said the exact same thing the last time you saw me, then two weeks before that, and then three days before that: I should have been invisible by now — how come I’m still standing in front of you?”

There are titters each time, and, bypassing my question, they say, “No, seriously, you’ve lost too much weight.”

My weighing machine tells a different story, I offer.

Change the batteries, I am told.

The one size smaller pair of jeans I had bought, hoping I will get into them at some point, still don’t fit.

You must have put them through a wrong wringer setting in the washing machine.

It makes me indulge in a bout of body-shaming. I body-shame myself. How fat must I have been to be consistently losing chunks of weight and not being halfway close to the “perfect figure”?

When I was younger, I could lose weight far more easily even if my efforts were shortlived. On occasions, after a month-long diet and exercise routine, I’d pat myself on the back and mutter, “Hey, I think I’m looking good, now I only need to hold on to this.”

But in my family circle, where I could obviously do nothing right, I’d soon be round-housed with a reality check — from assorted uncles, aunts, (at times) parents, their domestic staff, their neighbours. “Look at you, you’re looking so bad. Sickly. God knows what kind of notions of beauty and fitness you ‘modern-day’ youngsters have, they’re so out of whack. You’ve lost all your glow, you look like you have a terminal disease. Please put on some weight now.”

That would propel me straight to the chocolate bar I’d hidden inside the vegetable tray. I’d gobble it up along with an extra-large packet of salty chips, and, in an instant, settle scores with whatever good I thought I’d notched up.

On other occasions, if I’d let myself go and piled up a few extra kilos, there would immediately be a backlash of a different nature whenever I visited home. “You’ve become quite rotund, are you living on fast food or what? Have you stopped exercising? Why can’t you wake up early and go for a run, why are you so lazy? You live alone in a different city, you cannot afford to be this indisciplined, what if something were to happen to you, who’ll take care you? Please don’t be irresponsible when it comes to matters of your health.”

Did I mention earlier that “ideal weight” is an entirely subjective matter? With me, it’s a double whammy, a see-sawing body mass that confounds at every corner. The other day, someone else I know bought me a dress, and was quick to add, “It’s a large size, so it should fit you.” I tried my best — like I do when YouTube tutors ask me to keep legs and arms strong during all moves, nothing should be soft, so what if there is pain? — to not crumble and die and put on my game face, to express thanks.

A couple of hours later, the same person came over to tell me, “I realise you may be size 0, so now I’m worried it will be too big for you — anyway, here’s the receipt, in case you have to change it.”


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