How to love your body when you are fat comes with a lot of complications. I have always remembered myself as someone who was “overweight” (at least according to society’s standards). As someone who has a big butt. As someone who always had to wear clothes that covered everything so that I looked okay.

My childhood was filled with comments such as:

No, it was not my parents who passed these comments (most of the time), but everyone else everywhere. It could be my school, family functions/gatherings, neighbours etc.

There was a point of a time, where I dreaded going to these family functions or meeting specific people. Because I knew and was terrified of the comments they would pass. I hated them with all my heart. My reactions took two ways:

Sadly, both of these reactions seemed to affect me more than they. And it upset me even more. When I did talk about it to my parents, they asked me to ignore them and not talk back to them. Because they were elders, right?

I used to envy the thin people and could wear anything they wanted. When people called them beautiful or when family members appreciated them.

I had always been an emotional eater. I could stuff up any amount of junk to drown my sorrows. I was part of a vicious cycle.

And all this was during my teenage years (12–17 years of age).

Your teenage days are the ones where you are very high on emotions, right? Every comment — positive or negative that you receive creates a 10x impact in your brain. Your circumstances feel like they could make you or break you. I do not know if it happens to everyone, but this is what happened to me.

How to help someone with body image issues

Then, at the age of 17, I started working out sincerely. I was sick of everyone commenting on my weight.

I started walking every day. For one hour. For 6 years. I could not go to the gym, since I used to (and still do) feel suffocated inside the place. So tried other forms of exercise, mainly walking, and sometimes yoga or Zumba.

Initially, there was a drastic change in my weight (I lost 15 kgs in 2 years), but after some time it became extremely difficult to reduce weight. My weight became stagnant. I was and am still plump, but I was not obese like before.

But then I realized something. Even after reducing 15kgs, the comments did not change. Yes, it did subside for some time (where people were praising for reduced weight), but it started again. I grew afraid of my childhood cycle repeating.

It was one of those days, about 4 to 5 years ago, that I saw Vidya Balan’s (Bollywood actress famous for standing up for body image issues) interview, about how everyone would talk whatever you do. People would have comments about you, whether you become thin, become fat, are fair, are dark, have pimples, or have clear skin, they would always have something to say.

That made me realize, that is so true! Why should I live my life according to what others think? It is not that they are appreciating me when I reduce my weight, right? I completely shifted to the opposite end of the spectrum. Almost became a rebel — at least that’s what I told myself.

I stopped giving a f*ck about what others thought about me.

I ignored them mostly, consciously trained myself to take in their comments through one ear, and leave it through the other. I was an adult now so I could make my own decisions. I decided and told my parents clearly that I do not want to meet them.

And me being thick-skinned with so many years of name-calling also helped. Probably. I do not know.

My struggle in my late teens was more with myself than with others

I had a constant battle with my mind, body, and food. All the time. There were times I was able to put the shame on the back burner, and times when it came back in full force. My emotions, shame, and body image issues were like sinusoidal waves. Up, down, up, down. And this went on for two years.

As time passed, I was able to switch off or numb that part of my brain. I thought I had solved the issue, but I had not. I had locked it up for so long, that the pressure made it come out in full force when I was about to get married and in the first months after marriage.

I met my now-husband when I was 21 years old. During engagement or the time between engagement and wedding, the comments from everyone regarding my weight started increasing again.

I wanted to scream at them to mind their own business. But, as you must have guessed by now, I, of course, could not do so.

It affected my relationship with my husband too. I started having unnecessary fights with him because I was ashamed of my body. I was feeling depressed most of the time. And again, I could not stop eating.

If you are also a person who has dealt with shame, you would know that it is all only in your head. It is all about your perspective. You do not realize it then, you realize it later.

I do not think I would have come out of it without my husband. He was the one person who was extremely supportive and encouraged me in every way, throughout. Probably that was what I needed. To hear it from someone else. To hear that I was beautiful, and my size did not matter, continuously for about 2 years, till it got drilled into my brain. Yes, I took that much time to understand, since I had to remove 12 years of body shaming insults from my head.

How to love your body when you are fat

My growth as a person acted as a catalyst to the situation. I realized there were far more important things in life than my stretch marks, big arms, and big butt.

There are so many atrocities going on in this world. And there are my goals in life too.

One day I sat and calculated the importance of how my body “looks” compared to all the topics above.

I should be proud of myself for coming this far. I wrote all this down and looked at it for a month.

And gradually, my confidence improved. Not only to show to the outside world but for myself too. I started to feel good about myself. It was such a wonderful feeling. And feels amazing. You should try it sometime too.

As women, we put too much pressure on ourselves to compete with society’s standards. It is high time that we become confident of ourselves, and focus on our health and overall well being instead of our size and stretch marks.