Tag: body (page 1 of 1)

Body balloon apparition

Ours is a family of skinny people, and over the last many months, we have gotten skinnier.

This is a matter of concern to some of us, and as we strive to add pounds to our frames, the topic of intermittent fasting comes up for consideration. I, for one, don’t think that skipping dinner is necessarily contributing to reduced weight, just as I don’t think that eating many meals a day should necessarily result in extra pounds.

I wonder if sustainable weight gain (or loss) may have little to do with the food we consume or the meals we skip. Indeed, I won’t be surprised if the figure on my scale starts to inch upward even as dinners continue to be skipped. (That certainly has been the case with my husband.)

I spent a year in Cairo, ’02-’03, and when I returned to India, I thought I resembled a South Indian film heroine. My frame, that is… It was a year of bad sleep, fatty food, zero exercise, emotional drama, et al. Small surprise that the pounds piled on, maybe? Anyway, I came home, enrolled in a gym, and the weight came off easily. And it remained steady for years until it began to drop. I consulted my Ayurvedic physician who saw no reason to worry. “It’s probably all the ama (toxins) that are gone,” she surmised.

And now, once again, the weight has reduced.

You know the typical questions a doctor asks a parent that’s worried about their child’s health… Does he sleep well? Does she poop on time? Is he active, energetic, enthusiastic? Does she look happy? Perhaps these are the same questions one should review as an adult, too. And if you come up with “yes” on all counts, then there is little cause for worry, I think?

The human body is so remarkable… and I am not even talking about its internal mechanisms and functioning. I am hinting at its physical appearance. When I look at my husband’s face, it occurs to me that he looks a lot older than he did a few years ago BUT he looks a lot younger, also. And I feel similarly about myself as well. My hair is “a fountain of grey,” (the husband’s description) but my face looks younger. The frame is smaller but it feels more solid. The wrists are skinny but they are stronger.

And then I wonder, is this body a mere apparition? Is it a simple projection of “my mind” in space? Is it the shape and form of my wishes and desires? Is it a balloon? šŸ˜„

What does this body feel like?

It feels like a silken quilt, the kind that you can throw over yourself in early spring, that provides the perfect amount of warmth and softness. It feels tender, especially near the nape, neck, top of the chest, clavicle, and inner arms. It feels like a little pillow of mounded flesh, soft and rounded. It is satin-smooth in places, hard and bony in others. It is lean, sometimes dry and anxious. There are cuts in tender places, scars and birthmarks, remnants of an incision from an appendectomy, vaccination and chickenpox memories. It has stretch marks that don’t owe themselves to childbirth. It has dark-light patches and vacant spaces, hollowed out. There are small curves, stableĀ enough to rest theĀ palms. There are lines on smooth surfaces. There is roughness, abrasions, abrasiveness, and a silhouette that hides easily.

This body feels like a good friend.


One morning, I steppedĀ out of the shower. WhileĀ dressing, I happened to catch a sight of myself in the wall-to-wall bathroom mirror. It was my body inĀ profile, and instantly, I was reminded of some of the awful pictures one sees while standing in the grocery checkout line. You know, the magazines like National Enquirer and such, ā€œShe is secretly starving! You can seeĀ her ribs! Taken to emergency, near collapseā€¦”

Yes, I am thin, you can call me skinny. No, my ribs are not visible but it does appear, at times, like I lack the depth dimension to my torso… Almost flat.

I have always been a thin person. As a child, I was scrawny, bony, big-eyed, curious, shy. But I had a big mouth with big teeth, lots of opinions, and zeroĀ qualms about sharing them… What a strange combination. Anyway, puberty didnā€™t come soon enough. I was impatient. Finally, it showed up andĀ I was nearly ecstatic. But no, I didnā€™t morphĀ into a beautiful flower. I became taller, developed a (little) chest, andĀ life continued as usual. That elusive prettiness didnā€™t dawn (or maybe I was blind to it?).Ā I did have a nice head ofĀ hair, though. Guys complimented me on my silky-straight hair all the time. They kept trying to touch it, play with it. All very flattering, yes. Until I met a guy who I fell in love with but then, he didn’t do any of those things! šŸ™‚

Ahh, I digress. As life progressed, my body stayed on track. Slim-slender, not gaining weight but not exactly athletic or lean either. Then I went to Egypt. Spent a year there — working long hours, gorging on delicious kebabs and koftas and koshery, gawking at beautiful Egyptian women and the mighty Nile, marveling at a new culture, dreaming away the hot nights and cool days, wondering about my life and its purpose.

I came back to India, looking a little curvy, as my sister described it. I remember seeing a picture taken at a sunny beach vacation in Hurghada. The first thought that arose was, ā€œPillow!ā€ Yes, I thought I looked like aĀ tight, plump pillow, aĀ case pulled tightly over. I was getting married soon, and I wanted none of those descriptors.

(I was/am a tadĀ uncomfortable with the ā€˜womanā€ descriptor. It feels alien, like it is meant to describe another person, not me. Of course, I am a woman in terms of gender, age and physicality but I don’t feel like one. To me, the term feels very… mature, for lack of a better word. I have a problem identifying with it. Okay, I will be the first to admit that this might come across as rather silly and ignorant, clearly influenced by patriarchal norms.Ā Perhaps it will change. Maybe I will wear the “woman” label with ease and naturalness some day.)

(On a similar note, I hate being addressed with a “Hello ladies.” I do not like the “Girls” appellation either. My husband enquiresĀ – Do you like being addressed with a “Hello folks?” Yes, that will do.)

(As I remember telling my Ayurvedic physicianĀ many years later, I probably have a “less developed” body consciousness. All the experiences I have had thus far with my body (as being a female form) seem to fall within the realmĀ of mundane, commonplace, boring? Perhaps that is why I donā€™t have much of a relation with it. Not in theĀ sense of my being female, I mean. I remainĀ in utter awe of my body’s superior intelligence… ButĀ I don’t feel particularly connected to the sense of living in a female physical form. Perhaps this has to do with the fact thatĀ I have not faced any problems linked with the female physical body/form? Oh, that begs the question, does the sense of being femaleĀ have to be negative? Clearly not. Maybe I am simply neutral about it.)

Anyway, off I went to the gym. Lifted weights, ran on the treadmill, did all the right movesā€¦ and 3 months later, the trainer proudly announced thatĀ I had lost 3 inches all over. I supposeĀ this is a common experience with people who start working out. She was disappointed when I informed her that I wasnā€™t returning. I was getting married! Moving to the United Statesā€¦ YAY!

One dreary Christmas Day,Ā  IĀ landed in Atlanta. Spent the next few months making sense of my new husband, new country of residence, new found sense of dependenceā€¦ Miserable. Perhaps, it all made senseā€¦ because I didnā€™t gain a single ounce of weight. Au contraire, I lost some, most likely. As time passed, I became happier, and life brightened up.Ā  But my weight stayed put. One of my friends shared that she moved up several dress sizes after she moved to the United States. Perhaps it is a combination of reduced physical activity (you drive EVERYWHERE in this city) and changed food habits (hello, endless cereal/chips/cookie/candy aisle) and homesickness, maybe?

Anyways, it is more than thirteen years since I moved here, and my weight has dropped to pre-marriage levels, if I imagine right. For a while, I wondered if I should be concerned. But I think I am okay. I have no health issues.

It isnā€™t always easy to find clothes but of late, I seem to have lost the urge to buy clothes. Plus I have a good tailor who alters clothes until they fit me just right.

I realize that I am in an enviable positionĀ because I seem to fit into a popular stereotype of thinness and beauty. People often remark – Oh, you can afford to eat that cupcake! I am sure she is losing weight simply by breathing! People comment on my weight (or the lack of it), all the time. Sometimes I am apologetic. ā€œYou know, I am actually underweight.ā€ ā€œYes, I have lost weight.ā€

(My sister who lives in India gets it too. People aren’t exactly shy aboutĀ expressing their shock/disbelief at her size. Seriously, G, are you okay? How can you be so thin??)

I would be lying if I said that I donā€™t enjoy being a thin person. To me, it fits perfectly into the “girl” narrative; I am in no hurry to become a woman. (To be frank, a lot of the time, I feel like a “girl” in a world of women. Equal parts naive and questioning, curious and detached, utterly lacking in the mature knowingness that women my age appear to have in spades. Like I am yet to learn the secrets of my tribe but then I may never learn them.)

At this juncture, what I have a sense of real appreciation and gratitude for is the fact that I have a healthy and friendly body. It supports my desire to practise yoga, hike mountains, learn Aikido, swim, dance. It lets me experience the joy, exhilaration, lightness and freedom of physical movement. If I can spend theĀ years ahead supporting this lovely body of mine, I’ll go on to becoming a happy, old woman. Yes, woman. šŸ™‚