You matter, period! And you are NOT your WEIGHT!

To our dear readers and subscribers,

My name is Preeti and I am a kindred spirit, I have all the creativity of a bottle of gum but love to cook with colourful ingredients and spices. I work with large banks aiding them effect turnkey programmes. I am an alumnus of Stanford University, California.

 I am an adoring wife and love my cuddles. I am a much adored daughter. I love my friends, they are part of my tribe and lift my spirits daily. I love sunshine and adore gardening.

Recently I turned business woman too. Travels make me feel free. I love to read.

 I am a LOT of things, buthere is one thing I am NOT. My weight!

This blog marks the beginning of our ‘You.matter.period’ series.

The specific focus for this series – is how we perceive ourselves in the context of weight.

A young photographer I recently met with, narrated her experience as a photographer at a party photo booth. It appeared, that of the 100 plus women that showed up to the event and came through to have their photos taken – practically all of them made a mention of their weight and requested they be shot at an angle that would make them look thin – not flattering- just thin.

That narrative jogged my memory back to a wedding I attended a few years ago and I recalled that practically all women I stood for photos with, made a similar request of the photographer –to make them appear thin.

The women I posed with were:

  • CEOs of startups,
  • marketing executives,
  • doctors,
  • Forex traders
  • Investment bankers
  • Successful business women
  • Mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, friends and lovely human beings

Basically,accomplished women who had achieved success in their chosen arena and yet their insecurity was only skin deep – the moment they had to pose for a photograph.

Let me be clear, this blog is not intended as a license for excessive self-indulgence, merely to pose the question; despite our many accomplishments, when did we as women come to identify ourselves with just our weight.

The Cambridge dictionary defines ‘weight’ as follows: ‘as heavy someone or something is’.

Since when did that become the best marker for you as an individual and why?

When did it become okay jovially or otherwise to become self-deprecating based on your dress size?

Also is this phenomenon necessarily gender specific? 

It begs the question whether a man with a beer belly feels similar angst? Do you judge a paternal or avuncular figure based on their belly size. I call this instance out to illustrate a point.

Gok Wan – a British fashion consultant in his series ‘how to look good naked’ often invited women with flagging self-confidence (associated with their weight almost a 100% of the time) to his show, in a bid to elevate them out of their plight.

An interesting exercise he conducted was something like this. He would line up women of varying sizes and ethnicities and ask his latest invitee to position herself in this line up based on her own assessment of her size amongst the women present.

Inevitably these women would assess themselves as being a whopping 4 or 5 dress sizes larger than they actually were when they positioned themselves in this line up. And then, they would express abject surprise when they were informed that they were actually much smaller than they perceived themselves to be.

So it does appear women experience this sense of anxiety and a misplaced sense of their body form.

So here were my takeaways.

If beauty lies in the eye of the beholder then by extension so does one’s own body size.

Size is also, it appears, ‘relative’ to our perception of an ideal.

So here’s some food for thought. How is this ideal set? Is anxiety and insecurity something we are created with perhaps, is it just something primordial?

Are we able to place a part of the blame elsewhere externally?

If a picture is worth a thousand words then the images of models we see plastered on magazines or through digital media, are a novella in their own right.

And with each novella we’re being told that there is an ideal size; we see ideals geared at defining female aestheticism within a very narrow construct of body shape and weight;importantly we are being told that we are NOT the ideal.

About a decade ago, a documentary illustrated the impetus behind the media pushing certain ideals of size, shape and appearance. Their argument was that our primordial brain is trained to look at certain shapes, wider hips as a sign of fecundity or high cheekbones as a sign of maturity,

or glossy hair as a sign of health. The ultimate objective in a time of ‘survival of the fittest’ was selection of a healthy partner who a man could mate with to create healthy offspring.

I accept that point. But my counter argument is this, this selection process seems to lack validity if the images being generated are completely airbrushed.

Secondly, are these images of air brushed women being created purely for the male gaze? If that’s true then shouldn’t the biggest subscribers of women’s magazines be men? Is that truly the case?

If images are being remastered or airbrushed, then can the untrained gaze still distinguish between a healthy woman’s body and a mediocre-ly anorexic one?

In reality, women’s magazines bearing images of impossible and flawless perfection are consumed by women who set their ideals based on these images.

So what you may ask? These images more than just sell magazines, these images make  influencers and salespeople out of people.

And so? These images make you judge your own self cruelly. When you have jobs to do, bills to pay, it is always easier to put yourself on crazy diet after diet to fit that ideal.

And so? These images have the propensity to let you believe that YOU are a reflection of your weight and nothing else.

And so? These images ignore genetic propensities, could be airbrushed and can be untrue.

So what follows for a lot of women that subscribe to this ideal, is a bad relationship with food and a deflated sense of self-worth.

Everything I have said here, is sane discourse I am certain you have heard before. But through this curation of narratives, what I am hoping is that you will somehow find it in yourselves to ignore the narrative that external media sets for you and make your own instead.

That you will find a way to be body positive and set affirmations that enable your self-worth.

That you will know that you are a creature of this planet and are free to be whoever you want to be, regardless of your shape or size.

And you will do this, because I hope you will see that you are you; that you are a unique creation and in being just you lies your greatest strength.

Importantly please know that labels such as: thin, skinny, fat, obese are all just that – labels. They are not you.

You are deserving and worthy of love, affection and plaudits exactly the way you are and THAT should be more than enough for anyone who cares.

Celebrate your small victories and go forth fearlessly, because you matter. PERIOD.