Monday, 18 December 2017

Positive Body Image

“Nobody is superior, nobody is inferior, but nobody is equal either. People are simply unique, incomparable. You are you and I am I.” - Osho

It was a recurrent dream for Sunayna and in the dream, she’s about ten years old and running around in an open field with her cousins and siblings, playing and chasing each other. They’re calling out to her ‘come on Golu, come on Moti, catch me, catch me’. She’s running as hard as she can but often not fast enough, often tumbling down and getting up shamefacedly as the others laugh. The name ‘Golu’ and ‘Moti’ were given to her lovingly because she was plump, her actual pet-name was something else which they hardly used anymore. She grew up knowing that she was plump and that being plump was unattractive and okay for people to poke fun at; people in her family loved her but often teased her with that name. It rankled in her mind from time to time. In School and High school when group photos of friends were taken she was always the one standing out due to her size and they teased her that she hogged half the picture frame. She always managed to laugh it off but inside she cringed. She herself did not feel very great about how she looked but to be constantly reminded was worse. When much of your life you have been tagged as fat and made fun of, it is often not easy to feel good about yourself.

Now that she was all of 18, Sunayna wanted to be looked upon as pretty, stylish and confident like some of her friends but she did not have the courage to try anything beyond her normal style.  She would often see magazines and wish to wear clothes that made her look like the models. She then decided to follow the regular route of diet and exercises and certainly it helped her to lose weight, but she hated the rigorous exercises. When she saw herself in the mirror she felt that if she continued the regime for a long, long time she may eventually be slim enough like those girls in the posters. She sighed when she saw her mother watching her. Her mother was waiting for her to get ready for their appointment with the doctor. Lately Sunayna had been having some bouts of dizziness, tiredness and irritability. So her mother had insisted on a thorough check-up.

Dr. Sharma was a friend of the family and after they reached her clinic, following a nice informal long chat, she managed to put Sunayna at ease as always. She listened to Sunayana’s pain point and about her diet and exercise efforts and advised her to look up the Good Shepherd Finishing School where structured curriculum existed for building fitness, diet and positive body image through a host of co-curricular activities like sports, music and curricular activities like fashion design, grooming and personal branding, public speaking, event management, etc. At the School, Sunayna met a lot of other girls her age or a bit older who seemed quite perfect to her and yet they were here hoping to learn something on how to become ‘perfect’. It seemed no one was happy and that everyone felt there was something wrong with their body and improvements needed to be done.

The various sessions at the School were very informative, educative and real eye-openers for most of the girls. On their Graduation Day, each girl was asked to relate her experience at the School. When it was Sunayna’s turn to present and summarise her learning she said ‘We are all unique with our individuality and looks. We are born as perfect babies, lovely happy infants. But as we grow we are compared to others, by society and by ourselves and we forget to accept and love ourselves. Each person is different from the other and the body types are also different. With a relevant fitness regimen, we can all stay fit and healthy. And the way we see ourselves is also the image we project to others. We are not assembly line production. The trick is to carry ourselves well, love and accept ourselves. If we look up, we will see that some of the most impressive women are those who can project themselves well with confidence. They tune their dressing sense according to their body type and persona. This awareness is leading to a change in the fashion industry worldwide. The current trend of fashion for plus size women is a healthy trend because it doesn’t prescribe a mandatory standard size for all. It acknowledges that each one is different, with different body type, personality and aura. Today I accept myself with joy.”

In Good Shepherd Finishing School, you are taught that the more important thing is to be healthy and physically fit for yourself and to not conform to what society has decided is the perfect image for a woman. Everyone is beautiful, perfect and unique in their own way, and loving yourself is the key to happiness for yourself as well as for all those who love you.

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