Let me show you, how our Thamizh society treats fat people. Not all Thamizh people, but definitely a large enough number for me to decide to take a stance. Let me explain how our words to others can turn into utter pain. Let us dive into some Thamizh people’s behaviour around fat people.
Before we do get deeper into the matter, I would love to explain why I decided to write this article. Since my early adulthood, I have been fat and no surprise, it has been noticed by every Thamizh aunty or uncle I came across. Notorious questions and silly words always made me feel like I could never fit in. From aunties who measured my waist and laughed, to uncles who bluntly asked why I was eating the short eats at a Thamizh event, even though I have enough weight to carry.
All these incidents implemented an awfully bad self-image within my mind and heart at a young age. I would always struggle to find clothes in Thamizh clothing stores that fit me, and I felt as though I was not allowed to be the way I was. Thamizh people see fat people as a burden to society. If one does not correspond to the norm and does not wear the usual dress sizes, that person is treated as a non-existent individual. You already notice this when you try to buy traditional clothes. When asked about larger sizes, you are looked at in disgust and must be ashamed of this question. Even if you want to sew a blouse for a saree from the same saree fabric (which is usually attached to the saree), it is not enough, and you must gather some scraps to maybe get 2 small sleeves. Then, when you wake up your sleeping courage and attend a Thamizh festivity as a young woman, people look at you like you're an alien and want to share some 'dieting tips and tricks'. Drink nellikai juice, soak venthayam and drink the water on an empty stomach and so on. And what do I do during these stupid conversations? I sit there and just listen while my inner soul gets eaten away. Thamizh aunties don't have a filter. They think something and then immediately say it, without any doubt or second guesses. I can tell you many such stories but in conclusion, there were plenty of gatherings where I was told to not wear a saree anymore and that our traditional clothing is not made for my body type. Because of these moments, I stopped wearing sarees and started to hate them.
Currently, European Thamizh clothing stores and their advertisements /photoshoots /collaborations with other vendors don't represent all body types. This is discrimination at its finest. Even when they hunt for models, their size ranges show how deep this beauty standard is rooted and how much less of a chance we fat people have, to be seen.
Don't even get me started on Thamizh movies. They spread such fatphobia - it's hard to find movies that don't have any jokes regarding fat people like me. Kundu pusanikai, Arisi mooddai, Saakku, Yaanai these are all words which are used to describe fat people. It's just so sad, that no comedian/actor ever thinks about the mental and physical pain a fat person goes through while listening to these negative associations they make about our body.
I mean the beauty standards existing in Thamizh cinema are a shame in itself overall, but why do we "normal people" try to mimic that and hurt others?
This is why we need to talk about it.
Most of the time I would like to verbalize the following questions: Do you think that I can’t see myself in the mirror? Do you think that I am dumb? Am I not allowed to eat or drink at all JUST BECAUSE I AM FAT?
But our parents didn’t raise us to speak up and we were forced to accept all the humiliations we had to live through and still keep up our crown.
Throughout my life, people around me have felt it was their right to use certain statements and rules as a weapon against me.
You are FAT.
You are fat, you are not allowed to wear a saree.
You are fat, you are not allowed to go out to eat.
You are fat, you are not allowed to eat this... not allowed to drink that....
You are fat, you can't wear anything tight.
You are fat, you must exercise.
You can't... You must...
There are many more rules that were dictated to me by the society around me.
During those conversations, I have been asked why I am fat and to be honest, I would have loved to tell those people that them and their hideous questions were one of the reasons for my personal hell. My eating disorder.
Join Harisha & Charu @tamil_philosophy_2.0 on Saturday, February 27th at 8PM (German time) for a discussion on body positivity.
When I look back at pictures from my childhood, I see this happy butterfly, that goofball, who always had a joke on hand, but I also see a small girl who wasn’t fat but saw herself that way. If I had the opportunity to ask her why those thoughts occurred, I am fairly sure all the hurtful, disrespectful comments pushed her towards this bad depiction of herself. While she was trying to fit in, she forgot that her tiny heart was in pure pain. Her parents forced her to diet and fast, she was made fun of by her so-called friends and she was barely seen and treated as a human. It was as though she was a stone, and everyone had the right to play around with it. It seemed, every step she took ended up in a failure. Instead of losing weight, she started to gain weight. It took her many years to learn the reasons for her weight gain. She realized that one’s emotional state of mind can affect a person's weight.
I am annoyed by this constant oppression of fat people in our society. Not only in the western society, but especially in our Thamizh society. It is getting on my nerves that people take the right to degrade you in the worst way, just because you don't fit the norm.
Being fat can have many reasons, some talk about it, others don't and that is their right.
At a certain point you can no longer ignore such comments. There are times when I think about whether I really need to go to this family party or whether I'd rather leave it alone and enjoy my peace of mind at home. One little comment from somoene can do enough damage to other people. It may not come from an intentionally bad place, but words have power.
It is time to take the supposed weapon (You are FAT) out of the hands of the people around us and to eliminate the negative connotation of the term "fat". Thick and fat are just non-judgmental designations for the stature of a person, such as "slim, curvy, thin, etc."
To sum it up, I would like to say:
My name is Harisha, I am 23-years-old and I am FAT.
To those that choose to shame me, I don’t give a damn about your beauty standards. If you think thin, skinny people are beautiful, feel free to think that way, but don’t try to change me or make me feel bad about my body (my temple) and especially my soul. I am FAT and just as beautiful. I refuse to accept your negative comments in silence.
If you’ve been humiliated and looked down upon, just because you're FAT, then let me tell you one thing, no one should ever have the power to destroy you. No one could ever have the courage to live your precious life and no one can ever be this badass person like you are! Keep that in mind the next time some Thamizh aunty or uncle starts to question you and your weight.
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