Driving back from my daughter’s daycare, I turned the radio on. Humming along, I sat at the next light when the song ended and the commercials began. The first was for laser hair removal. The honeyed voice of a woman claimed her life changed for the better after getting body hair removed. I was amused and nodded my head since I figured all the freedom from shaving and waxing ought to be worth it. The next one was a full bodied male voice selling some sort of a beauty treatment that was like liposuction but not really. “Love handles, muffin tops, double chins — you name it, they are gone,” you could tell he really meant it. I mean the visual offense that is all of the above things. At this point I was getting annoyed. The next one came on promising a surgical cure for hunger pangs. “Are you tired of feeling hungry all the time?” the man asked and answered his question with whatever it was that he was selling.
Mercifully the light changed and the next song came on. I drove, slowing down without realizing, my mind still trying to grasp the fear and guilt these commercials played on. I look back on my twenties, years of mindless bingeing on cashew masala and downing naan and roti most nights for dinner. I look back on very little activity and a whole lot of socializing that had food at its center. I also remember the curious lack of guilt or fear. I don’t ever remember worrying about my size or weight as a means to interest men or attract potential spouses. People around me worried ceaselessly (for me, I mean). I caved eventually to social and parental pressure but self doubt doesn’t strike me as the sole thing I remember my youth for.
All through my late twenties and thirties, I loathed my body for various reasons. Some having to do with its inability to do what I felt was its biological purpose. Some as an after effect of having myself pumped with hormones month after month. Late thirties brought with it peace and understanding and my relationship with my body changed to one of reverence and respect. While weight had never bothered me much, I now view it as just a number. My philosophy towards food and activity has changed. In moderation, mostly plants and stand when you can sit and walk when you can stand.
The love handles, the muffin tops, the double chin? I view them as battle scars. As reminders of what I subjected my body to. I see them and think of the nights under a starry sky, friends’ laughter echoing around me. I see them and remind myself of the children who sprang from me. I see them and give thanks for being alive and blessed. I see myself and see someone capable of boundless love.