‘Shape of Our Body VS Shape of Our Mind’

Banangkur Mustafa:

“Ektu beshi kore khao to ma, chehara ta shukaye kaath! Shob labonnyo chole jacche!” Meaning, “please eat more honey. You look so thin and your face is losing all it’s glow!”

Everyday, girls/women like us hear comments like this from people of our society. And there are other forms too! Like, “oh no, you gained so much weight. You look so chubby. Who’s gonna marry you”?!? Yadda yadda yadda.

I’m not saying that guys/boys don’t hear these. They do. But for women, the comments are severe and they are continuously defined by their body shape; even taunted!

A couple of months ago, a big news flash in the media industry of Bangladesh captured everyone’s attraction. It was about two of the leading heroes and heroines. The actress accused the actor of not giving her the status as his legally married wife. Yes, we all know the story. But the way that ‘famous’ actor insulted his wife and made a comment about how she looks after giving birth to their son, was not only cruel but also shameful! He said, “How can she expect to come back to movies after gaining so much weight? She’s so fat!” Really, dude?!? She’s the mother of your child and the cause of her gaining weight was a natural phenomenon that all women go through after childbirth.

Yes, it is important to stay healthy and I always encourage women to take care of their health, pay attention to their fitness. But doing that shouldn’t be for others or to impress their partners! It’s for us, girls! Because we want to stay strong, cause we want to feel beautiful inside-out. Because we want to feel good about ourselves. DO, WHAT MAKES ‘YOU’ AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, ‘YOU’ HAPPY!!!

But here’s the thing, everyone has a different standpoint on being healthy or beautiful. If a girl is 5’5” tall and weighs 60 kg, we cannot call her unhealthy just because she doesn’t wear a size zero or extra small! Again, a girl who’s skinny and doesn’t have lumpy butts or big breasts cannot be called unhealthy or unattractive!!!

I have heard even girls saying, “Saree porte gele meye der ektu pachha boro na holey dekhte bhalo lagey na”, meaning, “A girl doesn’t look nice in a saree if she doesn’t have big butts!!!” If women themselves say shallow things like this, what can we expect from the men who think of us as ‘products’ or ‘things’ to enjoy!!!

My question is, how do we define beauty or fitness? Personally, I like to be thin. I like to work out; because I like to feel light, because that’s how I feel great about myself. But that’s just my choice. I cannot blame or ridicule someone who doesn’t feel the need to work out or to be thin. Why would a person (regardless of gender) be called or defined by his/her body shape?!?

If my husband ever gains too much weight, will I stop loving him? No. I will just ask him, help him to keep a good diet and stay healthy. And I believe he would do the same to me. He should.

Often times I have heard moms saying to their daughters, “oh you look so fat! Why don’t you exercise and lose weight? Don’t you have to get married? How are we going to find a nice groom for you?!?” Now, how can that be a good motivation for a girl to stay healthy? Do we need to stay fit to impress others? To get a groom? To be married off?!? Do we need to look good to be praised by people??? Well, of course, who doesn’t like to be praised…but NO! The purpose of being fit and healthy is to lead a healthy, less-worrisome life.

People, even our own family members who love us, don’t understand that taunting  about the way we look, the way our body is shaped can have a reverse effect on our minds. It can erode and even shatter someone’s confidence. I have seen girls who are quite brilliant but who spend time thinking about how they look and in trying to look different, maybe by changing hair color, or skin tone, or body shape and what not just because of the way they are treated by the people around! The concept of ‘good-look’ can be so delusional! And it can vary from culture to culture, from person to person. For example, in our country, a common concept (or I should say, a stupid thought!) of beauty is fairness! Even in the twenty first century I hear people saying, “Oh my goodness! That girl is so pretty, so fair…like a white angel!!!” Okay, for once, can you please tell me if you have ever seen a fairy in your life? So, how do you know that fairies are all fair and beautiful?!?

Well, my point is: NOBODY should be insulted or ridiculed because of the way s/he looks. Everyone has a right to look, stay, and live the way s/he wants to. It’s a personal choice. If you want to help someone, just help him/her if you see that s/he is struggling with something, maybe to maintain a good diet or a nice wardrobe or stay focused in career etc…And s/he asks for help, then by all means help that person…but don’t ridicule him/her for his/her incapability of having something that you do have. We all come with some sort of flaws or shortcomings, let’s not forget that. Everyone is beautiful around you, in some way or another; to see that, you just need to have beautiful hearts!

Banangkur is a social activist, a media personality who has had an astounding career as a News Anchor on several television channels in Bangladesh. She currently resides in Toronto, Canada. She is an active cultural and community worker who believes in and advocates for the freedom and empowerment of women. Through her writings, she aims to raise awareness about the disparities in our multi-faceted socio-cultural sphere and to inspire women (in particular) to believe in themselves, to be able to make choices and fight for them.
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