Screw the Beauty Standards: A Story That Shames Body-Shaming

“I am thinking of using Jane’s body as a model to study biology. I mean she could be a good skeleton.” Rob says, loud enough for me to hear. Everyone else start jeering at that rude joke. I slowly walk away out of the classroom and as soon as I get out, I quicken my steps to break into a run, crying like a weakling and lock myself up in the bathroom. I cry for hours to let out the pain I feel in my heart. I touch my bones to feel it and spit at the image of me in the mirror. Weak, scrawny and good enough to be made fun of. I remember the day when someone tried to convince me by saying –

“Why are you even upset? You are just skinny. You know what I have to face every day. Gaining weight is so much easier than losing weight. I have to be at the gym the whole day and still not eat what I want. You just have to eat.”

I am Jane. 20 years old. 38 kgs.Believe me that I have had it worse doesn’t help at all. And you just have to eat is not a solution, because I do eat. Nothing ever happens. Where is the proof? I still exist. I don’t think humans can exist without food.

I am Jane. 20 years old. 38 kgs.

Yeah, this is my identity. Who cares about what I do? Or what I am good at? What are my hobbies? No one cares. I sit there on the dining table with a laptop in front of me instead of the dinner plate. And I type “Tips to gain weight naturally” on the search space. The results keep on loading when my Dad speaks up –

“This is why you are skinny. You got to eat nutrients. Why are you even doing this at the time of dinner?”

I give a disapproving look but he ignores.

“I am talking to you.” He says rather harshly.

“Dinner is not ready yet, Dad.” I say without looking at him, opening a website which has an article published on it called “10 ways to gain weight naturally.”

“Look at you. You are 20 Jane. I can see your bones. I can count them almost. You don’t even look like you go to college. You look hideous.”

I do not reply to that. My heart breaks for the millionth time. I slowly close my laptop screen and keep it aside. I get up to go to my bedroom to shed more tears of shame when Dad says again –

“You are not having your dinner now, eh? I care about you.”

“You don’t.” I say.

“Learn to talk Jane. Is this how you talk to your Dad?” My mom interrupts.

“What did I even say? How will you feel if everyone just keeps on talking about how fat you are Mum?”

Mum shuts up and I rush to my bedroom to lock myself in and cry again. Dad refused to speak to me for 2 days. But I was the one who was really hurt.

I wake up with swollen eyes and a dry throat. I look at the clock to see that it is already 10 a.m. But thank god it is Sunday. My tummy makes weird noises to tell me it is hungry and that I will starve if I don’t get my calories soon. You know? The skinny people don’t have enough fat and carbohydrates stored, to fight their hunger. But they do feel hungry.

So, I walk downstairs to get some food, in my brother’s huge tee shirt and baggy pants. I walk to the kitchen to help myself with some milk and toast when Mum walks in.

“What’s up with you?” She asks, sounding worried.

I hate that tone. It is the kind of tone which is usually directed towards someone deceased or dying. I am not dying Mum. I say to myself.

“What’s up? Nothing’s up.” I reply out loud.

“You get really upset over trivial matters, as I have noticed. Dad worries about you…”

“Mum. Stop it.” I cut her off.

“NO.” She says firmly.

“What do you want Mum?” I ask her looking at her, straight into her eyes.

“You are not healthy.” She says.

“I know. I am not. But your comments on the dinner table are not helping.”

“But…”

“Mum. I swear! I swear I am trying.” I break down showcasing one more weakness apart from my physical weakness. She hugs me tight to take my sobs in.

Tips to gain weight naturally:

  1. a) Eat in regular intervals. Eat more than three meals a day.
  2. b) Eat 2 bananas in the morning with a cup of milk and added sugar.
  3. c) Do not skip meals.
  4. d) Exercise regularly. Lift weights.
  5. e) If nothing works out for you, BEAR THE HUMILIATION.

So, obviously these were not the tips I found on internet. (And the last one, especially, was not included in the list.) But whatever I read on the internet seemed to be something that I have already tried. Probably, naturally is not going to work. I open my laptop and jump on to the bed, making myself comfortable among the plush cushions; I type How to gain weight quickly? A lot of results pop up. The results included more advertisements than articles. I opened one stating Unani medicine, totally harmless and a quick way to enlarge the cup size of my breasts.

I close the laptop screen and go to take a shower. After a quick shower, I come back to my room to look at my naked body in the mirror. Maybe Dad was right, I do look hideous. I look at those breasts of mine and flashbacks hit me.

“You got to eat. Put on some weight up there.” He waved towards my breasts. “I want to feel it when you hug me.”

Those were the words by my beloved ex-boyfriend.

“I have more breasts than you.” A guy named Josh, who used to be my best friend, mocked me. ‘Used to be’. Not anymore, because of his constant rude comments about my body.

“Do you even wear a bra? I don’t think you need one.” A girl had said in the girls changing room after a session of swimming.

Source : Pinterest

All those comments rush into my mind making my brain numb. Maybe I am having a brain paralysis. But maybe this paralysis is making me run towards my laptop, open it, click open the last page I opened, click on the ‘order’ button and close the laptop back again. I sit there looking at the message I just received about the confirmation of my order of a 60 capsules for breast enlargement.

Totally harmless.

It has been a week and I have been waiting for the order to arrive. I sit at the dining table munching on my breakfast when the doorbell rings. I quickly get up to answer.

“Have your breakfast Jane. I will go check.” Mom says.

I wonder if my parents can hear the loud pounding of my heart. I should have entered Hazel’s address. Why did I order it here? Damn. I am gonna be doomed now. I think to myself.

“Hey Mrs. Butler. Can I talk to Jane?” A familiar voice says at the door.

“Yeah sure. She is having her breakfast. Come in dear. Have a seat.”

Just then I see Justin entering. He smiles at me. I smile back somehow. I finish my breakfast and I walk over to him. He stands up from the couch as if I am some teacher of his or the mayor. I smile a little inside. Justin is my classmate and he literally is the only person who really shows interest to be with me and to talk to me. But I never paid any heed to it because people are meant to hurt you somehow someday. After Friday’s class, he had come running to me to ask –

“Can I be your friend?”

And I had said yes which I totally forgot.

“Let us go upstairs?” I say.

“Yeah sure.”

“I am sorry about my room. Just telling you beforehand. It won’t be that tidy.” I say sheepishly while climbing the staircase.

We reach the landing and I open the door to let him in. He sits comfortably on my bed and I keep the door open. (According to the house rules. They are pretty lame. I will explain all of them later to you.)

“So, what brought you here?” I ask and suddenly realize that it was not appropriate and maybe even rude.

“Umm. Just nothing. I just wanted to see you.” He says sweetly.
And the guilt hits me.

“Okay. Do you want to watch something?” I ask.

“Yeah sure.” He says excitedly.

I take out my laptop and we sit comfortably to watch ‘The Dark Knight’. It is my favorite movie of all times.

“Who is your favorite superhero?” I ask him in the middle of the movie.

“I like every single of them. I mean they save people and stuffs. Nothing is cooler than that. What about you?” He asks me back.

I point at the laptop where Batman is kicking some ass off of the bad guys.

“You like batman eh?” He asks. I nod.

“Are you okay?” He asks looking at me with actual worry on his face.

“Yeah. I am just…you know..”

“Yeah?”

“I cannot even save myself. You know?”

“No. I don’t know. Why cannot you? Batman can be anyone. It is just a symbol. Anyone can be a hero. And that is what Batman says, right?” He says like he is explaining things to a child.

“Yeah. You know he is fictional.” I joke with a true smile on my face.

“Batman is offended.” He acts dramatically and we both laugh.

And I realize how much he likes me as what I am. And for a tiny bit of time, I feel like I love myself. For the rest of the movie, Batman did not catch my attention but Justin did. I start paddling as fast as I can to reach home before he does. I had received a call from the delivery service 10 minutes ago about the exact whereabouts of the address, to deliver the package. I reach finally to see that the delivery guy was already there at the door with his hand poised to knock at the door.

“Wait!” I yelled.

He turned around just in time to look at me.

“I am Jane. I live here. That is my order.” I say panting, trying to get the words out.

I quickly pay for the order and take the package to hide it in my school backpack and wait for the guy to vanish. As soon as he leaves, I knock at the door. Mom opens the door for me with a bright smile on her face. I wonder what is the occasion for such happiness and I realize how rude my thinking is.

“Nana is here.” She says excitedly, closing the door behind me.

Oh no! No. No. Just no. Not Nana. I think to myself.

Nana has never been sweet to me as she has been to her daughter ( that is my Mom). Her taunts and her way of bullying me were different and the most hurtful. “Here she is.” Nana exclaims looking at me, turning her head towards me, sitting on the couch. And her exclamation of happiness slowly turns into a frown and she examines me from top to toe. I have always hated the examination.

“Sophie.” She calls for my Mom.

“Yeah Mum.” She replies and sits beside Nana on the couch. I stand in front of them being examined.

“She is never going to get a guy.” Nana says, still looking at me but talking to my Mom. ” What are you up-to girl?” She asks me now.

I do not reply. Not that she cares for a reply. She continues –

“Are you trying to be like those skinny models on television? I tell you that it is total nonsense….” She goes on about how I should eat and how she used to feed Mom and about how beautiful my Mom was at my age and about how my Dad fell in love with her and about how I will never be able to find a guy and about how skinny I am.

“Welcome, Nana. I hope you have a good time.” I say formally and walk upstairs to my room. I could see from the back of my head that they are still gaping at me.

I enter my bedroom and lock myself in to open the package. I take out one capsule and swallow it with water then and there. I hide the capsules under the drawer and I lie on my bed thinking of Justin and if he would fall in love with me. The skinny Jane.

“Let us do this?” He says, gentle and sweet.

“I don’t really know Justin.” I say.

“Come on. Just think about it. It will be fun Jane.” He says.

I think for a while and Justin patiently waits for an answer, his breathing hitting straight through my heart and I finally give out my answer.

“Okay. Let us do this.” I say excitedly.

“Wow. I will be there in 5 minutes. Don’t forget your jumper. Midnight’s are freezing.” He says giggling.

I chuckle a little and stifle the rest, as it may wake my Mom and worst of all, Nana in the next room. I slowly slid into my most comfortable ’26’ waist sized jeans and put on my baggy grey sweater over my black tee shirt. I let my hair fall open, straight, black and long as they are and slowly open my bedroom door to walk down the stairs as slowly as I can. I open the front door and close it behind me and look out front and I am outside to have my first adventurous night out.

“Are you ready?” Justin says with his head inside his helmet, showing up on his bike to pick me up.

“Yes.” I say sitting on the metal bar so that his arms are closely encircling me and his face is just so close to mine and right now touching my hair.

He paddles through the street and the wind hits my face and I feel all the joy in the world. I let myself smile.

“Having fun?” He asks, bending his head a little to slowly whisper in my ear, while his lips touch my earlobe a bit and I feel a thousand butterflies fluttering in my gut.

“Yes.” I reply.

“Wait for the real fun.” He says and we stop with a jerk in front of a ‘Hard Rock’ cafe, its label shining in its neon wonder.

And my mouth lets the word slip away as I get down to look at it in the darkest midnight –

“Wow.”

“Hey!! Is this yours?” I ask as he takes out the keys from his pocket.

“What?” He smiles.

“This place. Is it yours?” I ask again looking at the keys in his hand.

“Not exactly. It was my Dad’s.”

“Was?”

“Yes. My Dad is going to sell this place soon. Financial issues, you see.”

“Oh. I am sorry.”

“That is okay.” He smiles again sending chills through my body.

“Is it okay to come here at this time?”

“Everything is okay, Jane.” He says looking into my eyes.

He holds my hand and we enter the almost dark place. Almost because there is still a spotlight on, in the center of the stage.

“Sit here.” He dusts a plush velvety sofa for me to sit.

I sit there looking wildly all around. Suddenly, the place is lit with little golden lights everywhere, throwing light all over the place and a voice makes me jump.

“This is for you.” He says with his voice booming all around. Thanks to the working microphone.

Source: Pinterest

He sits there under the spotlight on stage holding a guitar. I never knew he could play an instrument. What is he going to do? God! This is perfect.
I think to myself as he starts singing –

She would not show that she was afraid,
But being and feeling alone was too much to face,
Though everyone said that she was so strong,
What they didn’t know is that she could barely carry on,

But she knew that she would be okay,
So she didn’t let it get in her way,

I smile like a lunatic as he sings along.

Sometimes it all gets a little too much,
But you gotta realize that soon the fog will clear up,
And you don’t have to be afraid, because we’re all the same,
And we know that sometimes it all gets a little too much,

She would always tell herself she could do this
She would use no help it would be just fine
But when it got hard she would lose her focus
So take my hand and we’ll be alright

Hand? Leg? I will take you as whole. I think to myself.

And she knew that she would be okay,
So she didn’t let it get in her way,

Sometimes it all gets a little too much,
But you gotta realize that soon the fog will clear up,
And you don’t have to be afraid, because we’re all the same,
And we know that sometimes it all gets a little too much, yeah.

I feel the tears falling down on my cheek and my hands clasped over my mouth as he walks over to me. I hug him as tightly as I can and he holds me there for a long time.

“You look different.” Justin says, grinning at me while taking the books out of his locker.

“Good different or bad different?” I ask him leaning my back over the adjacent locker.

“Good of-course.” He says smiling.

I smile back at him and pat my back (not literally) for working on my face in the morning.

I woke up in the morning with a wide smile on my face, after years ( last time it happened on my 11th birthday and when I got my first period, everyday has been a judgement day). I don’t know what kicked a huge pile of confidence into me but I feel like I have already accomplished something. I feel like I have overcome something.

“So, what is your plan today?” Justin asks, cutting off my brain waves.

“Nothing much. By the way, I need your advice on one thing.” I say hesitantly.

“Yeah? Go on.”

“I…umm…”

“Are you going to propose?” He says and lets out a sexy chuckle. (Laughs are sexy, believe me.)

I nudge him a little and blush heavily.

“So, I was wondering if starting a page on Facebook a good idea.” I continue.

“A page??” He asks. His face looks impassive.

A bad idea Jane. A real bad idea. What are you? A celebrity? A health worker? A page? What are even you thinking? Pfft. I say to myself.

“Yes. I was just thinking I will start a page. You know like a feminist page. To encourage other women, like arranging events in the city to gather women and spread awareness about body shaming.” I continue ignoring my mental voices.

“Wow Jane.” His face lightens up. “This is awesome. This is so cool. And I will be the only one to know who is the admin.”

We laugh and Justin starts suggesting ideas for the page.

“So, Ms. Admin? Will you remember me when Mark honors you in future?”

“Shut up.” I say smiling.

We walk a little and I see Rob walking towards me. I ignore him and keep talking to Justin.

“Hey Ruler!” Rob shouts in my ear while passing by me.

I walk back towards him and block his way to face him.

“You know what? You are one sick fuck. I have a lot to point out about your imperfect douche body. But I don’t want to be you. Degrading someone else to make yourself look perfect is bullshit. You don’t have the perfect size. No one has. Because perfect size is a myth, dude. Stop shaming my body. If you hate it, shut up about it. No one talks good things about yours behind your back. Have a good day.”

By the time I reach where Justin was, I see that half the students in the corridor are staring at me and Rob. Rob stands there as speechless as a dumb fuck.

“I can say I love you for that.” Justin says in the middle of his laugh.

“I attend my fan mails in the evening.” I laugh along.

And I realize that all it needs is one person to right every wrong, one person to gather up all your pieces and fix you, one person to stand by you no matter what and just one person to love you when you can’t do it yourself. All it takes is one person to make you stand up for yourself. Just one person to say the words – “Screw the Beauty Standards.”

Fall in love with that person, the one who makes you fall in love with yourself. So, I did.

Stop body shaming. Skinny shaming is as worse as fat shaming. Body shaming in any form is hurtful and unacceptable and is not better than the other.

 

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