I was in class 10 when my batch got its farewell. I wore a plain white suit and blue salwar and declared to the woman in the mirror that she looked the ‘most beautiful’. Because beautiful for me- was a feeling. I went to the farewell, had the best time of my life and was awarded the “best student” award. Even the Miss / Mr. School titles were given not on the basis of how we dressed or walked or looked but on the basis of what we thought, how we spoke, who we were. Until 16, I didn’t know there was more to beauty than a feeling.
Then, enter senior school. And suddenly all that people noticed was my body. I was told that I was flat. I am flat chested and proud but it was not so all through and it took me a lot of coming to terms with it. For most women, boob size is a big deal. Mine were small. Even Salman Khan’s are bigger. For most of my life I have been a A/B cup and found bras pretty uncomfortable. My friends in school and college would say things like, “You have lemons, we have oranges” to “Why do you care about wearing deep necks, not like you have anything?”
I thought it didn’t matter to me. But the more it happened, the more it mattered. It wasn’t about the breasts or the breast size. It was about being shamed. Shamed for who I was. Curvy women are shamed for having curves, flat women are shamed for not having enough. Apparently those without breasts are ‘less appealing’ because what’s appealing isn’t my badass economics degree but only that I should have ‘oranges’ to show.
All boobs are rad
Soon, I became conscious of my body and wanted that “perfect” shape.
We live in a world that has a readymade idea of how women’s bodies should look. But not only is the world made of all kinds of us, we also come in different shapes and sizes. Our bodies are also constantly changing. Having bigger boobs may been a top “requirement” in the world that just saw women for that, but now girls like us are speaking up. And slowly overcoming our peer shaming to stand up for ourselves.
One day, I stumbled across the picture of that happy 16-year-old girl smiling with the “best student” award, lying on my desk. And I was like where is that girl? So as someone who raised to be awesome and not to look awesome, it was easier to get over two years of being judged for what you look like. I turned 18, topped my class and never looked back.
Ever since I turned 20, I made this a mission for myself to speak up for those who were worried they were small. My body has absolutely no role to play in who I am. It is my heart, my soul and my head that makes me who I am.
These days, it’s not uncommon for young women with small busts to flaunt what they’ve got with a deep V-neck cut. And more small-chested are taking to social media and celebrating their look on instagram.
Young boys and girls need to be told that they are more than their bodies. And these conversations need to begin from home and from schools. Had it not been for my upbringing, I would have been another victim of body shaming. I didn’t commit suicide (like many others do) because I was brought up to be a strong girl who knows better of herself than looks alone.
It is time for us to move from body positivity to body neutrality. Where tiny girls and boys aren’t burdened with the knowledge of those superficial beauty standards. A world where we are not trapped into this meaningless race of beauty as soon as we hit puberty, and sometimes even before. [Picture by Alamy]
Ayushi Aggarwal is an intern at SheThePeople.TV