How I recovered from body image issues

Body image issues
Design: Syeda Afrin Tarannum

Body image issues have been a concern plaguing the youth's minds for years, though it has become a more pressing issue now. The conventionally desirable body type changes every few years, but what remains constant is the largely unattainable aspect of it. However, it is branded as a "must-have" by popular media and many around us.

I still distinctly remember the day I got up to submit my work to the teacher. On my way back to my seat, a classmate pointed out that I had gained weight. That one comment sent my mind spiralling to an extent I couldn't fathom. I was only 12 years old and my impressionable mind suddenly thought I needed to make drastic changes to my appearance by losing weight.

Soon enough, I started trying to lose weight at an unhealthy pace. At an age when nutritious food for a growing child is essential, I completely disregarded its importance. The pressure to look a certain way led to coping mechanisms that I now know were harmful.

For several years, I bought clothes that were one size too small for me, thinking that they'll look great once I got slimmer and fit into them. I became nit-picky about how clothes fit me as I believed something was wrong with the way I looked, so the issue must lie within me.

Another factor that contributed to my body image issues is the way people started viewing me as I grew up. As family members, even the ones I barely knew, started fussing over the need to cover up more once I got older, things got more confusing. I felt as though just the existence of a girl's body is what people have an issue with.

Years later, I can finally say I have recovered from that distressing mindset. I have obviously gained weight since I was a pre-teen, and I'm thankful for it. I'm physically healthy and give greater importance to nutritional intake than I used to.

I finally buy clothes that fit me and if something looks a bit odd after trying on, I simply accept that it is either not made for my body type or is simply faulty tailoring. This acceptance has brought me great relief mostly because my body image issues once led me to believe there was something wrong with the way I looked, so the issue must lie within me, and not the clothes.

In a nation where sexism appears to be the standard, it is no surprise that women and girls alike are constantly scrutinised for their clothing choices, even in their own homes. However, as I've grown up and become more comfortable in my own skin, I have realised that this has more to do with certain people's tendency to criticise and less to do with me personally.

Every now and then, I still catch myself wanting to look different, but now I'm able to quickly get past those thoughts instead of letting them consume me. My biggest takeaway has been that there is no point in me wanting to look or embody somebody else's ideal. My health and happiness have to come first.

Nuzhat zones out every ten minutes. Tell her to snap out of it at [email protected]


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