A Letter On Being Fat

This is actually a letter I wrote to my brother’s girlfriend because she could not deal with being on the not so thin side and he had run out of his wits trying to reach out to her. A lot of it is pep talk but that doesn’t mean they are lies. I mean every word of it. FAT.SO! is the proof to it.


I grew up as a fat child. I’ve always been fat. Even when my collar bones and cheek bones were visible, I was fat. I have a huge ass which has always been disproportionately huge.

I grew up feeling very uncomfortable about my breast. According to me they were not supposed to grow. I spent years wearing bra sizes way too small for me because all I wanted was for them to vanish.

And now I have a paunch that would give a run to women who have had umpteen number of children. A nice saggy hanging bag of fat & flesh. As far as I know, or atleast the way my parents put it, the only dream or rather expectation they have of me is for me to be thin. Thinner. Not FAT.

I wasn’t always this fat you know. As I said earlier, my collar bones and cheek bones were once very visible. I see certain school photos of mine and smirk “you call this fat?” I went in for weight reduction right after school when I started going to college. I lost 14 kgs. Them kgs came back with a vengeance.

I always blamed my lack of a love life as a teenager to being fat. I fell in love with this man the moment I laid my eyes on him back in college. He loved me alright but of course his love for me was ‘platonic’. We used to tease him saying he likes Somalian women. A very politically incorrect thing to say but it basically meant he liked women who are thin, malnutritioned, famished looking.

All of this was until I believed that my body, my dressing up, my movements, my walk, everything is for others. I valued myself in the eyes of others. And others did not mean my lovers or parents alone.

Others meant the clothes available in any shop that never had anything I could fit into. Others meant the slim actresses I saw on television… they used to be curvaceous you know, at some point. Madhuri Dixit, Revathy, Urvashi were all roundish women. Never slim skinny.
Others meant the women I saw on the magazine covers and in them.
Others meant people who told me I am beautiful except I was fat.
Others meant people who thought I am fat. So men are not interested in me and that’s why I am a lesbian.
Others meant people who showered my parents with unsolicited sympathy for their single daughter… me.. who couldn’t be married because I am fat.

I have days when I spend time preening in front of the mirror. Knowing that I am beautiful. That I can be hot, sexy & all that.
And I also spend days where I hate every bit of it. The hair on my chin, my face, my arms. My double chin. My fat self.

But the fact is. I don’t care. I don’t care what others think of me or my body. My body is meant for me to cherish. And the moment I gained that confidence in me I knew nothing…NOTHING could affect me unless I let it affect me.

There is a large amount of literature available on the internet on being fat. There is a whole deal about fat feminism. But reading them is not enough.
I believed that I gained my confidence when I met my first lover because I felt beautiful when I was with her. But what I realise is that she might have been part of the reason, the rest I credit myself for building, making that effort to gain that confidence in myself. And unless you don’t do that NO one can help you out of your discomfort with your body.

I can tell you that it is a social construct. This body image of women having to be thin, fair, tall, straight haired, black haired, blonde haired, long legged, proportionate. But frankly how many women do we know who fit this criteria? Don’t we know a number of beautiful women in our lives who don’t fit in. That old wrinkly aunt who has always been beautiful. Mothers and grandmothers who have always been rotund, chubby and so beautiful. That dark skinned teacher whose classes we just loved. If they can be beautiful, why do we think our bodies are ugly? It is made of the same …It is made out of love

And how can you love any one else
If you cannot learn to love yourself first.

Last year, for a visual exhibition themed “freedom”, I wanted to talk about body…freedom of body…of FAT bodies. I called in my very hot, very sexy, very fat friends and asked them to model for me. I modelled too. I wanted it look like something right out of a magazine cover.
The inspiration came from here. This will give you an idea of to what extent media can go to promote the idea of thin & fair.

This is not an advocacy to be fat. This is just to say that one needs to learn to appreciate and love themselves for who they are. One needs to understand that no one has any right to judge, comment or change your body because that is the one thing that truly, completely and absolutely belongs to you. And whether that body is fat, thin, differently abled, black, white, freckled, wrinkled, pock marked…if you don’t love it no one really can.

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Neelima Prasanna Aryan (also known as Nilofer), is a self-taught graphic-designer art director and illustrator. As a queer feminist woman, her work over the years has been with organisations that focus on the rights of women, LGBTQIA+, and other marginalised communities. Cat humom, city-hopper, lover of all things delectable and kooky; Neelima's art is not for the light-hearted or the narrow-minded for they are mostly loud, about women, large bodies, self and queer, love and intimacies.

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