Lettuce, Cabbages, Beetroot and Finally the Awakening

Lettuce, Cabbages, Beetroot and Finally the Awakening

Late Friday evening, I entered the glass and glitter mall on MG Road, Bangalore. The noise was at an amazing decibel making me feel giddy.

“Probably it is fashionable to be this loud and noisy!”

Went into the showroom to pick up a top for me. Boredom invents its sane reasons for shopping at malls. As I looked around for my ‘Mera Wala top’, felt a wave of exasperation wallowing, pushing me into the bottomless pit of self-pity, or is it self-repulsion?

The racks were filled with ‘S’ to ‘XS’ sizes. For my dazed eyes, ‘L’ size was somehow looking like ‘S’, slim fits or is it slim cuts?

“Have they stopped making clothes for my size?” I wondered.

“Will anything fit me? And to think I am not that fat!”

The salesperson looked at me with amusement tinged with boredom. She must be thinking, “What is she doing here?”

When do we start calling someone fat? When someone goes beyond the standard definition of body and mass as put up on the walls of the physician’s colourless dispensary?

“Should we refer to a fashion magazine? I’m sure they must be having a guideline somewhere tucked in those glossy sheets.”

I can imagine how the reference would look like :

Ages 18 – 25: If you can fit into your 6-year-old niece’s jeans and convince your peers that it is the latest in capris, congratulations, you are a success!

Ages 25 – 40: If you can manage to wrap your whole being with a scarf and still have some to go around your neck, congratulations, you made it!

Age 45 and above: Botox, Silicon boobs, tuck-ins and lifts, do whatever it takes even if it is looking ridiculous with the permanent lift of eyebrows or Amul butter spread smile, pin it and stay. Compete with every 25 years old to look 16. If you are at it, you are fine!

“Will my definition of thin or fat and the thin line between them from a third world or upcoming market vary from rich or recession’s worst hit developed countries?”

Walking on MG Road in Bangalore can give anyone a complex whose hip size lingers around 30-32. If you are anywhere above that, you will have to run for the shadows to hide your rolling evil flab. Thin girls, almost pencil-thin, breeze by, seeming to be carried by gentle gusts of wind.

“Not sure what they eat or how they do not eat”.

Indians, I thought had a broader frame, broad shoulders and hips. When I look at the happening crowd around me, it feels like I am watching one of those early 60s black and white English movies where all heroines looked size zeros in those flowing gowns, hips ridiculously thin.

Food on the plates of today’s youngsters is interesting; one leaf of lettuce and a single almond for breakfast, shredded cabbage and a teaspoon of herbal tea to wash it down for lunch, one deep gulp of air for dinner! What happened to the bountiful diverse cuisine from our traditional kitchens?

Objectifying women starts very early and internalizing that, triggering self-loath starts soon after.

“Probably the day we get the first Barbie doll in our hands.”

“That one will haunt us for life.”

The need to be beautiful, glamorous, stunning and appealing, an endless list! Where is the list about speaking your mind, finding your space, being confident, staying healthy?

In the weekend, I called a friend. He definitely is not thin but he seems to feel that he is fine and at the right size. To top it, he is sure that he is handsome and winsome. Horrors never stop with men. His simple logic is that if Mohanlal is watchable and salable, why not him! According to him he can carry his weight, do his duty more efficiently than most and can smile. He says he does not have to look at food and die a thousand deaths with agonizing over.

“How I would love to eat that freshly baked butter-almond cookie!”

“God! I can’t, I need to look at my weighing scales tomorrow.”

Asked him how he survives these trips to shops, he had only one mantra,

“As long as you can carry your body without guilt or help, do not worry, you are fine.”

Well, I settled for that definition because getting into that tank top as thin as my forearm will require cutting me to quarter my current size.

Instead of such bizarre acts of violence to body and soul, let me carry myself with dignity and an upbeat smile!

Sunitha Lal is a Human Resources professional and organizational culture expert, based out of Bangalore. She has over 25 years of experience spanning diverse industries and geographies. Because of her keen interest in understanding human behavior, she views organizational dynamics through the lens of behavioral science, psychology, and anthropology.  


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