Reflections on how self-talk can impact your mental health
When I was dressing up this morning and I looked into the mirror,
the first thought that came to my mind was —
My thighs look too flabby in this outfit.
Also, I need to tuck in my tummy while posing for pictures.
Maybe this lipstick doesn’t go well with this colour?
Oh no! Is that a pimple on my chin?
Just then, I got a text from my friend Anjali.
I had asked her to upload the pictures of us from last night’s party.
But, she told me she doesn’t want to share them.
When I insisted, she said her tummy might be too visible in them.
This made me think — Why are we doing this to ourselves?
Who gets to define what is “too fat” or ‘too thin”?
Is it me?
Is it Anjali?
Or is the hundreds of strangers online that are liking and commenting?
My body has been my home for 27 years.
It has recovered from illnesses,
gone through several cycles
of being ‘borderline overweight’ and ‘normal’,
skipped sizes from “XS” to “M” to “XL and back to “M” again,
it has never complained.
I don’t hate my body.
I am proud of the struggles it has faced and survived.
With scars, yes, but healthy.
So ungrateful of me,
that I didn’t appreciate this blessing,
this gift I had been given.
Then, the realisation hit me —
like a glass door
that had always been there,
only I hadn’t noticed it.
It all comes down to social media.
All those apps we keep on checking countless times in a day.
Over and over again,
through several thousands of posts:
all the actresses with their flawless skin and hair,
those beauty bloggers with the sponsored posts
that remind me my beauty is never complete
without the lipstick they are wearing,
or the winged eyeliner I have to practise for hours to perfect.
We have been so conditioned to believe
hat there is only ONE definition of “beautiful”,
that no other beauty can be enough.
For a girl to be beautiful,
she has to be tall,
she has to be fair,
she has to have long, black hair.
And, she has to be thin.
Let’s not forget the thin.
She has to have zero fat on her tummy,
but not on her ass.
Even her cheeks have to be toned to perfection.
Anything less than that, and the world will call her ugly.
She herself would call her ugly.
And that’s what I did, didn’t I?
In spite of a make-up kit
bursting to full with cosmetics,
there is ALWAYS the need for something new —
one more concealer,
one push-up bra,
and then they will attain their standards of beauty.
I don’t need to work so hard
to make my body fit into this box
of unnatural beauty standards
decided upon by a materialistic world.
I don’t need to hammer my body in,
or file its edges to make it fit into a box it wasn’t made for.
It lasted only for a moment,
but, this realisation left me sad.
My body doesn’t deserve so much criticism.
So, I held my head high
and posed for pictures
without tucking my tummy in.
Yes, you might say I am not thin enough.
But then again,
who are you to decide?
It’s my body,
and the decision to judge it
belongs solely to me.
And today, I decided to be beautiful.
If you liked this piece of work, you might be interested in my book of poems — Stolen Reflections: Some Stories Are Told in Verse.