#Personal Stories

Growing Up They Called Me Haathi: Women Share How They Were Fat Shamed

self-love after lockdown, happy alone, single by choice

Do you receive comments about your body from people whose opinions you didn’t even ask for? Well, then you are not alone. Women who do not fit into the conventional beauty standards set by the society go through fat shaming at various stages of their lives.

Such remarks can come from their parents, relatives, friends or even from people they meet on social media. I have seen my friends breaking down because they heard derogatory terms like haathi from their close ones. This led them to take drastic steps like changing their dietary habits without seeking the help of professionals. At the same time, I have also come across people who remained unaffected when they were made fun of for their weight and loved themselves for how they were.

Fat shaming by relatives

Our relatives are always there to intervene in our personal lives. They are forever worried about our academic performance, marriage, skin tone and body type. Even when we do not ask them for any suggestion, they are ready with their unsolicited advice. Relatives have a unique way of complimenting you. They’ll tell you how pretty you look but add how you would look better with a slimmer body.

Nikita Mehra (name changed on request) says, “My relatives often point out how much prettier I would look if I lost some weight. They never hesitate to give me unsolicited diet advices for fat loss. They might themselves be unaware of the pros and cons of the food and drinks they ask me to take but that doesn’t prevent them from giving me suggestions I don’t even need”.

When your friends call you fat

Your friends care for you but they often do not know where to draw the line. They can shame you for the way you look and force you to adopt a new identity by undergoing a body transformation. If you sense that a friend is trying to invade your private area, it’s time to leave them behind and move ahead. Remaining friends with someone who cannot respect boundaries is not an option.

Akanksha Poorna narrates an incident where her friend asked her to join a gym and shed off her extra weight because apparently she was ‘concerned’ about her health. “What is most unfortunate is probably the fact that in personal space, fat shaming is often garbed as ‘concern’ for long-term health issues. I had a friend who constantly urged me to join the gym on the pretext that I will have to face several health problems if I don’t start working out from now”.

Is he the right guy?

When your partner compares you to others and wants you to be like them because you are ‘not enough’, is there any point in continuing the relationship? Had they truly loved you, they wouldn’t have tried to change your appearance. For a relationship to last, there must be equal proportions of love and respect. The lack of even one of them can land you at a place you will want to escape from.

Shruti Sengupta (name changed on request) says that her ex-boyfriend would consider it his right to comment over her weight. He would compare her to other women and treat her disrespectfully. “Fat shaming made my relationship go from bad to worse. It became noxious with time. My ex-boyfriend always taunted me and wanted me to lose weight so that I could look ‘perfect’. Moreover, he always compared me to other girls and insulted me. I prioritised my self-respect over him and decided to walk out of the toxic relationship”.

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