Anjana Bapat, a young Indian, who today is a belly dance instructor, plus size model and a full time statistical programmer was once a ‘healthy’ kid battling the stereotypical society and its taunts.
The number on the weighing scale became a horror for Anjana. It was more than just a number, it was a criminal stealing away her confidence and self-esteem. She day in and day out fell prey to comments like, ‘who is this buffalo’, ‘who got this buffalo to dance’, etc that slowly took away the real Anjana and molded her into an under confident girl.
The young Indian was often told, “you have a very pretty face, you just need to do something about that body”. The unsolicited gyaan from friends and family seeded insecurities and self doubt into her. Anjana recalls feeling like a cornered cat, although there was no visible threat, there was always a perceived threat of who is going to give me a lecture next?
The day prior to her board exams, an uncle visited Anjana. We as Indians are well aware of the significance of board exams and the mental pressure a student goes through during that periods. However, to add to that, Anjana’s uncle sat her down and lectured her on the importance of losing weight and how society would judge her down the line. The expression on his face was that of an appalled man who may have seen the most disgusting thing in his life. Shocked and left speechless, young Anjana felt humiliated and that she deserved it for not taking care of her body and being the ‘ideal’ girl she should be.
Not soon after, due to the humiliation and low self esteem, Anjana began crash dieting and over working out. This unsustainable method wounded up making her gain more weight leaving her distraught. However, it wasn’t long before the young Indian moved to another city and was surrounded by uplifting people and positivity. They not only complimented her face but also her body, they went shopping with her to accentuate her style and not hide her self.
Soon Anjana changed her outlook to life and began regaining her confidence. She took back to dancing and this time instead of running away from it, made it her safe place. The most liberating moment for Anjana was when she felt confident enough to look at herself in the mirror, show her belly and dance her heart out.
Anjana was able to turn her life around by changing her outlook to it and this is how she did it.