Being a big brown girl is so hard. For as long as I can remember, I have been shamed by almost every member of the brown society I live in and my family for being fat. I have always struggled with weight and being heavy. I always felt disgusted with the way my tummy sticks out, stretch marks crawling up almost every part of my body, the way my breasts are bigger than most and the way my thighs jiggle and look in jeans.
It was hard growing up in an environment that puts so much emphasis on being physically beautiful: a pretty little picture so that eventually a man will want you enough to marry you. I heard my aunties gossip about how big girls we saw at weddings and family gatherings looked in their saree or salwar khameez or “my god that girl is eating so much, the amount on her plate, ya khuda!”. Or how fat and disgraceful Aishwarya Rai Bachan looked when she had just given birth because apparently, it is a women’s duty to look good and lose all the weight, immediately.
I realised today that I can’t love my body the way it is because I am surrounded by people who keep telling me that I am too fat to be loved, that being fat is a disgrace and that I should be grateful, thankful even, that my boyfriend wants to be with me. I have a mother who is constantly telling me that I should starve myself (even though she knows I have a history of bulimia) and that being fat is so unpresentable, eventually my boyfriend will leave me for someone skinnier. I have heard fat-shaming all my life and I have reached a point in my life where I have had enough.
Since I was 8, my mum controlled all my sweet and junk food intake. She feared I would be fat and her dream of a beautiful slim daughter would disappear but she didn't realised that restricting me so much just made me want all those foods even more. She wouldn't let me wear the sarees, lehengas and salwar khameez I want too because she’s so ashamed and afraid of how fat I look. Even in my regular clothes.
Since I was 8, I heard how being fat is possibly the worse thing that can happen to a woman because we need to look beautiful and beauty lies in being slim. Furthermore, who would want to marry a fat girl right? Because that is all our women are needed for in this society. To be married off and to look good for the men around us.
I am so tired of not being able to love myself but I realise now that it isn’t because I am not trying to but because the environment I am in, and have always been in, isn’t allowing me too.
When I first moved to Auckland on my own, I had the freedom to do whatever, eat whatever and I actually ended up losing weight. But the minute I came home and my mum restricted everything again, the weight went back up and then everyone in the family started talking about how my mum let me become so fat again, as if being fat is a crime.
Even at my skinniest, I was considered fat and I am tired of it. Not of being fat but not being able to love it and in turn, love myself.
This expectation that the brown society has of it’s women from being house slaves, to being quiet submissive daughters, sisters and wives to carrying the burden of the family’s honour and reputation, while having to look like a porcelain doll all the time is disgusting and damaging. If you’re dark skinned, it’s disgusting. if you’re fat, it’s a sin. if you’ve got a mind of your own, you’re crazy. if you want to live your own life, you’re an ungrateful witch.
We can never win, can we?
To all my dark or fat or unique brown girls or if you’re all of those things: fuck them.
Fuck it. And own it. Own that skin you're glowing in. Own that body that is amazing on it’s own and eat that last samosa. Own your mind which is an endless colourful universe. And fuck them all. We will never be our parents, our aunties or their mistakes.
We’re loud, big, bold and beautiful, and we are here to stay.