The Burden of Being Size Zero

Dear fat, fatter, and fattest people,

I call you fat with such confidence cause till date I have not seen anyone thinner than me.

Hey you, and you, and all you fat people out there, I hope you are all “fat and fine”.  Well, I’d assume so only because you are so healthy and fit and cannot absolutely mind your business that you find immense pleasure in taunting me about my weight. This taunting that you do, I assume, is a fervent effort you make to feel good about yourself instead of trying to dig your nose with your healthy fingers. (Oh, wait! Do they even fit into your nose?)

Let me bore you with some tiny details about my childhood. When I had to give my entrance exam to get into Primary School in Grade I, we had to qualify and pass through three rounds of extensive testing. One; a knowledge based exam, two; a short interview, three; a medical exam. I prepared for the written exam for almost a year, but my mom was the most tensed for my medical exam. I was 12 kgs and looked like a bag of bones when stripped down to skin. My mother prayed really hard during my medical exam and told the examining doctors that I had just recovered from Typhoid and that’s how being 12 kgs at the age of six was justified.

22 years have passed since then and I have put on 23 kgs since that day, meaning I am now 35 kgs or approximately 77 pounds. My goal over the past four years has been to hit 80 pounds but I have not succeeded so far. I have been mocked at, taunted, ridiculed, and questioned over and over again for being this.

As it is, I go through a lot of trauma when I go shopping. Being a girl, I hate to shop for clothes because I never find the right size or should I say, the small size. And when I do, the piece I like is gone. In addition to that, you expect me to deal with you. Each time you call me thin, skinny, malnutrition-ed, weak, and ask me to put on some weight, I want to call you fat. I don’t want to yell, or making sly remarks at you, I just want to call you fat. This is because I know that it would hurt you and I want it to hit your mud filled brain that being called “thin” feels the same too. No, it is not okay to call me thin!

Let me begin by telling you that when your incompetent Comupter Science addicted and Mathophilic brain was dozing during interesting Biology lessons, you missed the chapter on metabolism. If you had been awake then, you would have saved yourself from this embarrassment now and figured out that people who are very thin, often, have high metabolic rates and that it could possibly be the reason why they cannot put on any weight. And it would have given you the power of logic to recognize that the human body is an enormous, unfathomable, natural and scientific machine that structures each body’s response in a slightly different manner and that makes it extremely difficult to predict the way one responds or behaves. But, no! You won’t get it cause you have only studied the Pythagoras Theorem that has been so monotonous over centuries, and worked with lifeless computer boxes that have one basic and banal design. Besides I also expect that you do not know about diseases like Marasmus which is why you call me “malnutrition-ed”. I demand you go and educate yourself, see lots of pictorial images before you use your boneless tongue to call me “a bag of bones”

You fat people, you come in so many different categories too. Some of you are just so fat and jealous that I’m so thin. That is why you throw questions at me like, “When was the last time you ate?” If you used that rusted brain of yours, you would know that everyone eats everyday, atleast people like you and me. The ones who are less fat among the “fat group”, you think no end of yourselves. You are also somewhat proud of your figure and you think that you are thin and right. So when you see me, you are shocked that there is someone thinner than you out there, so do your best to kill my self-confidence and obviously, you fail. The rest of you have no other topic to discuss with me. When you see me after months, the first thing you say is, “You are still the same and sooooo thin, you haven’t put on any weight?” Yes, like the only work I have to do in this whole wide world is to try and put on weight by drinking gallons of coke and munching away hundreds of packets of potato chips just so that I can please your carcass-picking soul and have you tell me that I look fatter than the last time you saw me.

You also throw me at the back seat of the car, you make me sit on your lap in an auto rickshaw, carry me up to fix your fused bulbs, push me over the fence to fetch your shuttlecock, make me run up and down the stairs when you have forgotten your handbag in your house, widen your eyes until they look like an owl’s when I order a large drink, and snatch fries off my plate assuming that I will not be able to finish them. First of all, you have the audacity to do these things, and then you complain that my bones are “poking” you. I would love to say to you then that I love your body fat and that you feel like my pillow and that I’m grateful to you for that.

Also, when you have the cheek to mock at my weight, just keep in mind that I can do an eight mile hike in a few hours, leading and entertaining the group with my chatter and songs, while you need to take several protein drink breaks. And, when we go shopping together, and you laugh at me that all the clothes in Size Zero and XS (or XXS) are gone, I pity you. I have to sympathize with you stunted brain that fails to show you the logic that all clothes in my size are gone and the ones in your size are left behind only because normal people are thin like me, and not many people are fat like you.

You, yes you married tongue-wagging Aunty! This letter is almost incomplete without a special mention of your crazy perception about people like me. As it is, I hate to see your and your attitude at weddings. Yes, those functions where you think you are the bride and wear a saree and gold that could be in par with your body fat, I’m talking about those. You have no shame and you know no respect. The bullshit you talk with my mother. You tell her, “Whaaaat!?! Aren’t you feeding your daughter? Are you eating all her food?” At that instance, I want to box your ears and ask you, “Aunty, it looks like you have spent all your money buying gold for this wedding, are you going to have money left to feed your fat kids or will they eat you when they are hungry?” Then, the other group of aunties, the ones who wonder how you are going to get married if you are so thin. You are so concerned and you behave like I am going to marry your son and pose for your family portrait. Oh, Please! Spare me the torture.

For your kind information, I am healthy. I fall sick less than once a year, and I have not even caught common cold more than five times in my entire lifetime. I don’t vomit when I smell cow dung, and I can do my own work without acting like a patient when I have my period. So better act sane and treat me with respect and integrity and don’t you dare judge my capabilities based on my weight. And the next time you want to butt into my calm head with your nitwit comments about my weight, laugh at me, and try to convince me that only Kareena Kapoor is Size Zero, you better think twice about it cause I may be small but my mouth isn’t.


The girl who has been Size Zero since you, I and everyone can remember

The victim- A plurality

The year was 1998 and I had just finished my 7th grade exams. It was a typical day number one of the vacation. I woke up late, sat in front of the T.V with my brush in my mouth for more than 20 minutes trying to catch the latest film releases that summer, got yelled at by my mom for being late for breakfast, followed by home-made dosas and peanut chutney for brunch. As I gobbled up the last dosa, I breathed freedom. I was at home and this meant that I did not have to wash my plate. I lazily walked into the kitchen to dump my plate into the sink as I noticed my mother and my maid getting ready to make lunch.

I found myself a neat spot on the kitchen bench-top and flopped myself on it eager to catch up on their conversation. It was then that I noticed the weirdness in the air. My maid signaled to my mom and asked her if she wanted to tell me about it. My mom looked perplexed. I was just a curious cat so I pressed my mom to spit it out. And thus, she began.

A brief introduction; my mom ran a non-government organization (NGO) that had worked on some projects to provide free education to kids under 14 years, employment to single mothers, etc. She also participated in some sort of “women counselling” program where she did a lot from abc to xyz. Basically, she was all for women rights. 

“There is this three year old girl, a kid from the nearby village. She is in the hospital. I’m going to see her this evening”, she said.

“What is wrong with her?”

“She was raped two nights ago”

My mind went blank for almost 60 seconds. I was 13 years old. This kind of stuff was too much for me to take. But my mom continued.

“She doesn’t have a father. She was sleeping outside, on a cot, in between her mother and her grandmother. (Summers in A.P were really hot and most people slept on their terrace) This man came along, he was drunk. He picked up the little girl from in between those two women and carried her to the dumpster at a distance, threw her on a pile of garbage, thrust his shirt in her mouth and raped her. It was only 15 minutes later that her grandmother woke up and found her granddaughter missing and went looking for her. She heard muffled screams at a distance and gave out a shrill cry at what she saw. Of course rapist ran away but only after the grandmother got a good look at his face.”

“She is very sick. The sick, drunken bastard bit her all over, on her vagina and it was bleeding uncontrollably. He happens to be the village Sarpanch’s son so we have tracked him down. Me and my friends want justice for the little girl. Do you want to go to the hospital with me?”

I was numb and disgusted. A three year old girl! What kind of a demon does that.

She was tiny, with several bandages on her elbows, knees and forehead. My mother went to talk to the little girl’s mother, trying to comfort her, and telling her that they had found him. I was very uneasy. I did what I do with most kids, gave my index finger to her to hold. She din’t take it. She was expressionless, and just started and started and stared, into some sort of emptiness above my head. I wondered. I wondered if she could even fathom what had happened to her. I wondered if she would grow up to forget this incident. I shuddered and wondered about the society we are living in.

She hadn’t moved for more than 10 minutes now. She was wearing a bottle green frock. A doctor came in to examine her. He moved up to her to lift her frock and see if the wounds on her vagina were healing. The second he touched her frock, she became violent. She started to fight off the doctor’s hands with all her might and was screaming so loudly that probably the entire floor could hear her now. Her mother ran forward and tried to pacify her but the little girl wouldn’t stop her terror stricken cries until the doctor left her room. Her mom was all tears said that she had been doing this. The kid wouldn’t let anyone examine her vaginal wounds. My mother pacified her mother and asked if the little girl had shown any signs of speech. Then my mom turned to me and explained that the girl could speak really well. She had even started going to the local nursery free-education program. But the incident had muted her. The doctors couldn’t tell if she had lost her voice due to the shock of the horrific incident or due to the way her neck was handled during the same. They mentioned that if it was due to shock she would eventually be able to talk again.

I ran out of the room. I cried, a lot. I cried more that night. I could not get her empty eyes and her bottle green frock out of my mind.

The rapist eventually got away. Neither was he tried at court nor was he convicted. Huh! He wasn’t even arrested. He was after all the son of the Sarpanch. He faked a letter from the Government Hospital that said that he had been in the hospital for the last seven days suffering from diarrhea or some shit. The police refused to issue an arrest warrant.

I have thought of that girl many times ever since. I think of her when I read about Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander, I think of her when I read about the rape of any woman, in India or otherwise. I thought of her when I read about the public molestation about a 16 year old Gawahati girl by a dozen savages, I thought of her when I read about an independent 25 year old woman in Mumbai who was assaulted and murdered by her lust-filled watchman, I thought of her when another 6 year old girl in Haryana was recently raped, and I thought of her as I watched Haryana Khap Panchayats shamelessly tell the media that the cause of such rapes is women not being married early.

She must be 17 years old now. A teenager. Does she go to school? Does she remember the brutal attack? Will she ever lead a normal life? Does she have a boyfriend? Is she a strong and independent girl? How does our “society” treat her? Has she been shunned? How does she feel about denied justice? And most importantly, can she TALK?

I probably will never find answers to these questions cause I am like most Indians. I do nothing. After all, I have lived and grown up in a society that flops itself in front of the television every Sunday morning to watch shows that have been adapted from the epic, Ramayana, the one where the antagonist sneaks in and kidnaps a married woman against her will, in her husband’s absence, and where the protagonist rescues her from him but gives her as much respect as asking her to jump into the fire to prove her chastity and who abandons her when she is pregnant with his kids.