We, being a species specialized in diversity, can never be exactly like one another. Maybe that is the reason why we connect like no other living organisms. We admire each other’s qualities, try to learn them or sometimes enhance those traits with our touch of uniqueness. At least that is what we should be doing. Seems like the negatives always have the upper hand!

I was always the chubby kid of the family. It wouldn’t be fair to call the extra weight obesity, but I was healthier than I should have been. The early childhood was full of adoration; people were obsessed with the pink flush of my chubby cheeks and how my mother would dress me up in all cute costumes.

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As days went by the adoration gradually turned to sugar-coated advice. At an age of 11, I was already being advised to go on walks or stay more active. The sudden shift of attention led me to believe that I was no longer the perfect child I used to be. That was the beginning of the growth of roots of insecurity! I remember feeling left out or being ignored by the elders because a more perfect child was amidst them.

As I grew a bit older, the sugar-coated advice swiftly turned to accusations and comparisons. I would be criticized for looking older than my age. I would spend sleepless nights wondering whether the “well-wishers” were correct. The roots of insecurity lowered my self-confidence massively! A teenager with so much to look forward to would only think about how to look slim so that the body-shaming stopped!

I would cry myself to sleep, avoid family get-togethers and stopped hanging out with people other than my close-knit circle. The body-shaming throughout the years not only hampered my confidence but made me more lethargic, embedding in my mind that was a person less qualified than all the others around me.

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This resulted in the loss of a few years, those years which I could have utilised to polish my talents or to learn something new. Instead, I kept on focusing on how to impress those who had nothing to do with my life. It was not before the late teenage years that I understood what my mother used to repeat to me, “Your skin, your weight, your looks won’t earn you a good life, your capabilities will”. No matter what the relatives told, she would wink at me and pretend not to hear them.

We would then go on laughing for hours on how narrow-mindedness would always prevent them from minding their own business. To say she supported me would be an understatement, my mother celebrated me! It wouldn’t be wrong to say that had it not been for her, the complexity of being less perfect would never go.

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Fast forward to a few years, I am currently pursuing a degree in a subject that I was deeply in love with- English. Writing and reading are my muses and to think that I did not discover that sooner only fills me with regret. I do things to impress even now, the difference being all of the efforts are solely for me! Looking back, I would never forget the sleepless nights, the days of doubts and the looks I got from the people I considered to be my closest just because I did not have an ideal body. I wish they could look deeper than what was on the outside. Had I seen the support I do today, I would have improved faster! But as said, it’s better late than never!

Mental turmoil should be another name for body-shaming.

This is what body-shaming does to a person. If you are one of those lucky people who didn’t go through this tough phase at a tender age, you would probably find it difficult to comprehend the emotions attached to this journey. Body-shaming strips you off of things much more important than confidence. You look down upon yourself, you miss on a lot of opportunities, you tend to be insecure even with the people who try to love you unconditionally, you think of ways to improve your life focusing just on the appearance.

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This is for all those people who have shamed their friends, cousins, strangers, acquaintances, knowingly or unknowingly. Know that your shaming might have caused deep-rooted insecurity that would take those years to get over! Know that it isn’t a weapon to use against them when they wrong you or make you angry. Know that body-shaming is as harmful as harming someone physically, sometimes more dangerous because wounds heal, unrest doesn’t.

I hope days only get better for the victims and the generation to come knows how to look beyond the exterior!

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