I lost 23 pounds in the last year and I don’t know why. I have been poked and prodded by doctors, I have been to therapists, I have been on bulking meal plans. Nothing has worked. I am now underweight, my appetite is in flux, my energy is waning and my body image has plummeted. I look in the mirror and it is tough to find any remnants of who I was a year ago.
And yet suddenly, I am being congratulated for my new body. Indian Aunties and Uncles have a horrible habit of commenting on the bodies of the people around them, and having lost so much weight right before their very eyes, I am no exception.
“You get prettier and prettier each time I see you.”
“Wow, you’ve gotten so thin! You look really good though.”
“You are in such good shape.”
These are direct comments that have been made to me in the past year. I am not in good shape. I have limited energy, and I get migraines if I eat even 10 minutes late. I am not in good shape. I am unhealthy. I am not getting prettier and prettier, I am getting thinner and thinner, and quite frankly, I am worried about myself.
Skinny is not synonymous with healthy. When I was 23 pounds heavier, I was so vibrant. I was so comfortable in my skin, so strong, so vital. Now, I find it hard to remember that I am that same girl, just thinner. Now, I find it hard to think back on a time when I could go to the mall without packing snacks, when I could find jeans that fit me right, when I could run miles without feeling lightheaded. I am skinny, yes, but I am not healthy.
These comments perpetuate the false narrative that the way a person looks is equivalent not only to their health, but their worth. Suddenly, I am being prescribed so much more worth solely because I have lost weight. If it weren’t for my family, my friends and my partner, who knows what terrible road these words could have led me down. Too many people in my life have altered their eating habits or started working out more — not for their happiness and health, but to ensure that they are worthy in the eyes of the people around them.
Bodies are not something to be complimented or torn to shreds depending on the day. Bodies are something to be cherished because despite the hurtful words we wield and the harmful thoughts we think, our hearts keep beating, and we should bless them for it every single day.