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Body-Shaming Older Women Is Just Next-Level Of Ignorant Trolling

Our society sees weight gain in middle-aged women as a result of unwillingness to be healthy, but weight gain can be caused by many factors that are beyond a person’s control, especially in middle age.

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Tanya Savkoor
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I was only a teen and had donned a saree for the first time for a school fest when one of my friends told me I looked like “an aunty” because my back rolls were visible. Another time, I was called “do bacho ki maa” (mother of two children) by my neighbour, because of my bulging stomach in a body-hugging dress. While these taunts shattered my confidence then, I now find the choice of words used to fat-shame me more obscure.

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An endearing term like “aunty” has taken on a derogatory face in India, due to its usage to ridicule fat women. The word which was used to address older women has garnered a negative connotation, which exposes the insensitive image that society has towards middle-aged women.

Our society sees weight gain in middle-aged women as a result of unwillingness to be healthy. While nobody owes an explanation to anyone about their own body, it is important to remember that weight gain can be caused by numerous factors that are beyond a person’s control, especially in the middle ages.

The media also often portrays characters like mothers and aunts as fat, unkempt, and lazy. Even behind the screen, celebrities have been subject to endless fat-shaming, by the audience calling them derogatory names. Public figures like actresses Vidya Balan, Rashami Desai, Aishwarya Rai, and actor-turned-politicians Smriti Irani and J Jayalalitha were ridiculed for their weight gain in their middle ages.

Many celebrities choose to go under the radar soon after giving birth and take on rigorous diets and fitness regimes to make a comeback in an unbelievably fit physique a few months later. Some even get surgical procedures to achieve their pre-pregnancy physique. This is because society expects women to fit into the perfect skinny-but-not-too-skinny and curvy-but-not-fat moulds throughout all stages of their lives, at all ages. 

So why exactly do women gain weight in middle ages?

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While we usually tend to blame weight gain on a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy diet, that is not always true in the case of middle-aged women. Many middle-aged women lead a physically active lifestyle by exercising, and eating healthy homecooked meals, all while performing strenuous household chores throughout the day, but continue gaining weight.

Health issues that cause weight gain

According to doctors, this could be a result of factors like hormonal imbalance, menopause, medication, or any diseases. Pathologist Dr Gale Kathleen Edward told SheThePeople that women in their reproductive age are prone to disorders like Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD), Diabetes, and hormonal imbalances like Hypothyroidism, which are the most common causes of weight gain. "Until the root cause of the weight gain is not treated, exercise and healthy diet may not benefit the women much," she said.

Dr Gale pointed out that women's bodies are genetically more prone to depositing fat and thus taking regular tests to ensure balanced hormonal functioning is especially necessary to avoid weight gain in middle-aged women.

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Dr Gale said that women have to start taking preventative measures for their health by going for regular checkups and using preventative care services from an early stage. She added that there is a need to make women aware of their own bodies in order to tackle health issues at the earliest. "Women are caregivers but tend to care less about themselves and their own health," she said.

Physiological reasons for weight gain

Dr Gale mentioned that another reason for women not losing weight in spite of exercising is not getting enough exercise as required by their body type, or not following a calorie deficit (burning more calories than those consumed).

Most women do not get sufficient physical activity to burn calories or are unaware of what exercises need to be done. Women also need to consult nutritionists to gain awareness of the body's needs and get a concise diet and exercise plan accordingly.

There is a need for women to be able to prioritise their health and well-being, instead of focusing solely on work or household chores. Health requires time and patience, which cannot happen without support and encouragement from other family members. 


Suggested Reading: Why Aren't We Told About Hidden Risks Of Weight Loss Medication?

body shaming weight gain Menopause Women's health hormonal imbalance
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