Note: Today we have guest writer Zeenat Merchant-Syal, of Positive Provocations, sharing a very heartfelt and meaningful piece on body image.
"Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly."~ St. Francis De Sales
On a recent trip to my cousin’s place, who I met after many years, we talked and giggles like we were kids. Neither of us felt any older than those days we used to play in the rain and create havoc during summer break. All of us lived in different states/countries but would come together to Mumbai,India for the summer. Its still essentially the same situation, except now we have our own little ones roaming the rooms.
Battling Body Image Issues
In most of these trips and even in my regular life then, I was constantly battling body Image issues. You see, I have always always been on the plump side. I don’t ever remember being thin. That in itself had never been the problem. The problem was when I would be given free flowing, no hooks barred advice at every nook and corner about how I should lose weight. Living in a home, where each parent had completely different approaches to the way things are supposed to be, didn’t make it any easier. One would constantly keep vigil of my intake, while the other couldn’t bare the thought of his child being so worried about what she ate.
This tug of war culminated into such a massive problem for me especially as I entered my teens. Suddenly everything and everyone was about looking “perfectly media good”. Walk like someone, look like someone, talk like someone other than yourself and you could be the IN teenager. I became that. Although I was still battling the way I saw myself, I put up a brave front and laughed. I was the life of every party, and yeah had the handsomest guys ask me out. Was all this making me feel better? NO! It was actually deepening the problem I had with myself and pushing it deeper into my soul…until I was so so deeply scarred. Scarred enough to make horrid decisions I still regret. I keep thinking now…”how could I have been so stupid?”
I still remember how I would cry to sleep every night, because I didn’t like who I had become, but felt it was the Only choice I had to be accepted.
Becoming The Real Me
There came a point, when the self annihilation had started, that I couldn’t look myself in the mirror. In those days, I came face to face with questions of purpose. In my most low states I could hear a voice inside me ask me, “Is this what you want to BE? Who are You REALLY? ”
It was only when I met my spiritual teacher, at the age of 16(almost 17), I realized how awesome it could be to be Me. The Real Me. There was this woman, right across the room at a social gathering, who I couldn’t stop looking at. She was simple, neat, smiling and extremely loving. She wore simple clothes, no frills, no makeup, no pretentiousness whatsoever. I was so drawn to this woman. She somehow looked like she glowed. I still think she does. She introduced me to my soul. And for that I remain eternally indebted to her. She guided me, taught me lessons from religious scriptures. Showed me the light, so to speak.
As I dwelled into religion, spirituality and all things Divine..my mind, my body, my heart all came to a certain calm. I realized that I am meant to be a certain way. It felt right. That is my unique gift. The physical body issues began to heal. As the issues healed, a warm more loving me emerged. A Me even I am sometimes flabbergasted by. I stopped crying to sleep, I stopped hurting myself, I stopped being someone I was not.
The relief of letting those masks go, was like taking off a huge mountain from my shoulders. I never felt lighter, freer than I did in that moment.
Yes, not all people in my life were fully happy with this transformation, but they came to accept a happier me.
Today, I’m still plump. But happily so. I love myself and things about this self. Dimples, warts, moles, crooked teeth, the not so perfect figure….I love it all. It keeps me real. I live a very simple but content life today.I am healthy. I walk, do yoga, exercise, eat right, smile, help others heal, help souls become whole and happy. So I'm plump. Big Deal!(smile)…More of me to love More of every other soul in this Universe with ?
I do hope I can instil the same simplicity, love and calm in my little girl. As she grows up, I keep thinking, she will go through some of the anxiety of peer pressure, society pressure to look or be a certain way. But I know I will be with her every step of the way, telling her just how Beautiful she is just as she is. She need never be anyone else!
May we all Happily embrace our awesome and very real selves. Its one of the most imperative steps in understanding and living in constant happiness. Knowing and trusting the Divine Plan and living in the flow of it makes living blissful. Nothing and I mean nothing can get you down then.
Today(literally) as I met my cousin, she said, “We were such goofballs in our teens na. You are still a goofball, naughty as ever, but you seem genuinely Happier now. What did you have an epiphany or something?” I kinda did and I completely agreed with her, while I baked and we ate home made veggie pizza with all our kids.
A positive affirmation I use when I feel a whiff of old imagery coming along…. “I am Awesome. I am Beautiful. I am a divine creation full of amazing mastery.” Heart *Smile*