My name is Denielle. I’m 29 years old, and a “whopping” 1.53m. I’ve had the pleasure of being born into the Indian culture. My naturally tanned skin, and hair that sells for enough money to purchase a new expensive appliance are attributes I don’t take for granted. My people have been praised for centuries for their innate mathematical and scientific abilities – none of which rubbed off on me, unfortunately. It’s crazy to think about coming from a heritage of some of the smartest folk on the planet, where some of the most physically judgmental people I’ve met, are Indian. I shan’t mention any names in particular – but I shall elaborate.
Sit in the sun – the length of time is irrelevant – and you’re going to go at least 3-4 shades darker. I have Indian friends and family who keep towels in their cars to cover their flesh from “unnecessary” vitamin D exposure. All in the pursuit of maintaining a lighter skin tone because going darker means unattractivess – apparently. As a lover of the vitamin D, the comments were rough! They go along the lines of “what happened, Denielle? You’ve gotten so dark!” Yes, I sat in the gorgeous sunshine, lapped it all up, and now I’m this colour. What this ultimately meant was that I went outside and enjoyed nature – this isn’t a problem. Don’t let the haters make you think or feel otherwise.
I’ve been blessed with nice legs. A fair amount of sport in school, as well as genetics (I got them from my mama), has contributed to my muscular calves and thighs. Sounds great right? Not so much when the typical Indian female leg is the complete opposite of mine. So names like thunder thighs and tree stumps was a thing in my life for a very long time. I felt uncomfortable in my skin for the majority of my primary and high school years. I constantly wondered why the powers-that-be had shamed me so with these non-Indian legs that brought on the name-calling. I’m not exactly sure when the switch flipped, but I love the fact that I’m unique in this way, and never tire of hearing it. Everyone deserves an ego boost – identify yours, and lap it up.
Being a mere 1.53m short, losing and gaining weight is immediately visible. Here’s the clincher – I’ve had family members poke and prod the areas of my body where additional weight would start to show (tummy, arms and back-fat to name a few). I felt like a piece of meat on display for the family to share their 2c on. Being asked my weight became the norm where that too would provide additional fodder for commentary about my body. It caused a lot of discomfort, feelings of being ugly, and wearing very unattractive and inappropriate clothing. Within the span of 10 months, I’ve lost 10Kgs, and not because I was trying to (tweet me up via @DCM26 if you’re curious). My curves disappeared, along with my once voluptuous bottom. My legs got smaller, and my clothes no longer fit me properly – not ideal either. The feedback from friends and family varied as follows:
- You look amazing – what have you been doing?
- You’ve lost so much weight! No shit Sherlock, I hadn’t noticed.
- You’re looking way too skinny – are you depressed and are you ok?
- Don’t get fat again; you’re looking so good right now.
- You need to eat something, or the wind is going to blow you over!
I’ve finally come to realise – through much of the objectification, verbal and physical pain in my 29 years of living – that there’s only one person’s opinion of my body, and how I feel, that matters… Mine.
For the longest time, I believed that I only looked good when someone else told me so. Thinking about it, the people providing the commentary are also the furthest thing from what I’d deem physically perfect. Within this last year specifically, I’ve gone the route of “finding myself” and figuring out what makes me happy – and it comes from loving myself, and understanding what my definition of happiness is (both inside and out). I’m the one that stares in the mirror to either love or hates what I’m seeing. No other person should have the ability to make me feel otherwise. Apart from serious health issues that could kill you, take what people say with a pinch of salt. It’s your life, live it how you feel best to do so.
(Please feel free to follow Denielle on Twitter: @DCM26 and Instagram: @dcm26)