“This does not fit!”

I gasp in horror at how clothes that perfectly fit a few months, seem to have shrunk. ‘Shrunk’, I wrap my arms over my body and wonder. I found myself reluctantly trying on a larger one and my face contorted with worry. I wonder how I was taught to un-love my body, I cannot recall when I first looked into the mirror and was not happy with what I saw. I try to comb through my memory and it does not work. I frankly do not remember when I learnt that there was a certain type of body that was beautiful and it was not the body I had.

I question why my body had to look like the ones I saw on social media and plastered across the billboards in the city. Our bodies are not monoliths. Why did I have to resemble the person on a poster to be beautiful? I do not see clothes that compliment prosthetics, individuals with skin or hair conditions, endorsement of gender-neutral, accessible wear for the differently-abled, of the many stories that are invisibilized. Years in, I continue to think about these questions. I give myself the space to because I have taken up the task of navigating years of conditioning.

I could write that it is within, beauty is within. I however acknowledge that for it to be within, we might need to find acceptance on the outside first. Outside-in. I chuckle when I notice how clothes do not fit me, I am learning to accept that our bodies will change. They change with stress, age, ability, environments, food intake, of the many reasons these are few. I can consciously work towards healthier practices, but I get to begin this work where I feel comfortable, with a professional I trust. If my clothes do not fit after the summer, bless mangoes indeed.

I write this piece intentionally, I leave out the adjectives that describe our bodies. As I try to build kinder self-talk for myself, I learn that this is a process of being okay with my own body, too. Our lives are intersectional, our identities are and so our bodies are, too.

“How do I look in this? Do I look ____?”

When I notice this question forming in my head, I tell myself “You look like you”. You, whoever you are, our bodies are but an aesthetic you create a narrative for.

“What do they think I look like?”

You will never know exactly what the other thinks of your body. You do not have to assume for them. All that matters is how you choose to view your body and hold space for what comes up. Outside-in, inside-out, your body houses you. Your body is a part, only a part of all that you are.