By Muskaan Vasandani
Let's say you’re having a cup of coffee with your best friend and at the table next to yours, a woman who clearly looks overweight, comes in and sits alone, and then to top it all off she orders three different things. Your brain immediately goes- ‘OMG that is absolutely insane, she is huge and about to get bigger!’. And maybe, the next thing you do is share this thought with your bestie, and you guys have a snigger about this. The woman obviously notices and is visibly dejected.
Humans are evolutionarily programmed to judge. From our initial cavemen days, we were conditioned to look at an approaching organism and judge it by its appearance, size, and body type. This used to be a very valuable skill – in days when tribes fought each other for access to resources and when we hunted animals for food and protection. Not anymore. In today’s world, we definitely don’t need to ‘judge’ anyone or act according to those judgments, but these instincts certainly stayed with us.
The point I’m getting at is very simple – don’t blame yourself if your brain ‘ticks’ as soon as you see someone with a body type different from what’s considered normal, or even if you’re the one with a distinctive body type. You’re bound to spot this dissimilarity almost instantly, just because it’s a natural instinct. What does matter is how you act after this thought comes to your mind.
Now let’s look at what was going on in the mind of that woman who was harshly judged in the first paragraph. Maybe, she wasn’t always like this: imagine that she recently went through a very stressful year in her life, and maybe her coping mechanism is stress eating. Maybe, just maybe she’s finally started working and trying to be healthier, and that day at the café she in for a well-earned cheat meal after weeks of healthy eating. What if your snide remark actually triggered her? What if she tumbled back into that rabbit hole of stress-eating? Was all of this
worth that momentary joke that you had a giggle about? I guess not.
Social constructs of a normal, healthy-looking person have changed dramatically throughout the years. What your brain does to create this construct is that it looks for ‘model organisms’. In today’s world, these are Instagram influencers, models on billboards, and mannequins at retail stores. Your brain assumes that this is the ideal body type that needs to be achieved. And anyone who doesn’t fit this description- is different! Even if that person is you, yourself.
Everyone wants to look their best. And somehow, most people think this ‘best version’ is that social construct in their brains. Here I need you to understand, that this isn’t the case. Even if you achieve that thigh gap, get rid of that arm fat, or finally get that rock-hard six-pack – you’re not going to be satisfied, unless you love yourself first, just as you are. Your body is your soul’s home. It is the most complicated, intricate machine ever known to mankind. If you don’t look like that Instagram model, doesn’t mean you don’t look absolutely spiffing! Your flaws make you who you are. And trust me, someone out there has a crush on you right now, just as you are. Now, this does not mean that you order a huge pizza from dominoes every day and you’ll look great no matter what. You don’t just put trash into your soul’s home now, do you? It’s ok to have goals- to want to be active, to not want to lose your breath after that flight of stairs, and to maybe be stronger!
No matter what your goal for your body is, you’ll get to it in time. Meanwhile- listen to your body. Eat when you need to, rest when you need to, and work out when you want to. Remember that everyone’s body is as dear to them as yours is to you- you have absolutely no right to have fun at someone’s expense.
Let’s picture one last scenario, and rewind to the first paragraph. You’re at that café with your bestie, and a woman sits at the table next to yours- you steal a glance, and your brain ‘ticks’: ‘She looks bigger, doesn’t she?’. You dismiss that thought and continue talking to your friend about that new movie you just watched. You don’t even notice what the table next to your orders, and life goes on.
Now, doesn’t this sound much better?