A Long Overdue Love Letter to My Big, Fat Body


A Long Overdue Love Letter to My Big, Fat Body

Illustration: Akshita Monga

Dear brain, I need to you to be quiet here for a moment, because I’m talking to the rest of us. Seriously, shush! You’ve been talking to me and over me for over a quarter of a century and I’ve listened and followed you meekly and reacted to everything you’ve had to say. My life so far has been exactly that – a reaction to your oh-so-cerebral instructions and comments. I am thankful to you for so much else in my life, but right now I’d like you to step down from the podium and let me take over. Because now I’m talking to the other parts of myself – the parts that I’ve spent so long neglecting to accept: all of what the eye can see.

It’s going to be difficult addressing 17 years worth of hating the way you looked, how much you weighed, how even your irises aren’t the same size, comparing you to everyone from your sisters to the girls in the train to even Katrina Kaif and Kareena Kapoor (“if those KKs can be so hot, why can’t you?”). Oh shoot, I’m sorry I ran off in that direction again. It might take a while, but I will be sincere in my efforts to love you.

I’m embarrassed at how long it’s taken me to realise how I’d ruined our relationship. I should’ve known better to begin with. But the first time someone said we were too fat was when we were only nine years old. What were we to do with such a comment, except accept it as fact and internalise it? And we took that to our tender heart so much that the word “fatso” still echoes with every heartbeat. Since then, we’ve brushed off every other compliment that came to us – “You’re so smart!”, “You’re such a sincere child!”, “You are very good at art, keep at it” – because all we were looking for was “You’re beautiful.”

Actually, I take that back; not we, it was me. As I looked for “You’re beautiful,” I forgot to love you. I forgot that you loved me so much and I just couldn’t see it.

I didn’t give you food for days. I made you run while you fasted. I kept you thirsty to make the numbers move. I got us to do all this, and so much other wonky shit (hello cabbage soup diet, five-bite diet, the GM diet, periodic visits to passive slimming clinics while fasting for Ramzaan). I chased something I didn’t even know we wanted, with mindless passion, overworking an already shrinking soul.

And so this is my declaration of surrender. I’m waving this white flag and hanging up my gloves. I’m done fighting you. I’m done being on the other side of you. Because I realise now, we are one.

If I did what I did to you to someone else, that would be abuse. That said, I would never do to someone else what I do to you. I took you for granted from the moment I saw you in the mirror. I hated you and you loved me. You kept me whole, even when I tried to break you; you kept me alive, even when I told you I’d rather kill you.

What I couldn’t see in all those years, blinded as I was, that you were my blanket when I was cold, my canvas when I felt like art. You took the fall when it was me who fell, you took (and healed) the wounds when I hurt myself. The cruel and judgemental things I told you are still seared in my memory. A chant of “You’re so ugly”, “Who would love you?”, and “Nobody really likes you.”

I have so much to apologise for. For all the times I caught your eye and looked away. For the time I saw you in a photo and made a face. For the times you were so kind to me and I was – for lack of a better word – an asshole. (Sorry, asshole. I mean no offence.)

I’ve been in this one-sided fight for such a long time, and it feels like this fight could last forever. But I am tired of fighting you. Why throw these punches, when you simply absorb them? Why, when I throw you down, all you do is get back up? When I’m running towards you with anger seething in my being, you just smile. Why do you not give up? Why do you not tap out? Why do you continue being on my side while still fighting me?

And so this is my declaration of surrender. I’m waving this white flag and hanging up my gloves. I’m done fighting you. I’m done being on the other side of you. Because I realise now, we are one.

It’s taken me an idiotically long period of time to realise we’ve always been on the same side – that I haven’t been fighting you, but it’s you who has been fighting this burden I’ve been carrying. You’ve been keeping me safe and wholesome for this one day when I have decided to give in and love you back.

I’m so sorry for all these years. I don’t know how to make up for them. I don’t even know how a person could be capable of harbouring so much hate for themselves. Diye tale itna andhera? But from this moment on, I will love you, and I will tell you that I love you. I will treat you like you deserve to be treated. Take you out on dates, adorn you with jewels. It took me so long to realise that the “You’re beautiful” that you were looking for, was from me. From a me that is you. I’m beautiful. And I love myself.