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Weight and watch: The fat joke is on you

comment Updated: Nov 10, 2014 12:03 IST
Lalita Panicker

Have you ever noticed that the world is not very kind to people of size? In fact, in India, if you happen to be adipose enhanced, oh okay, fat, then people feel compelled to rub your nose in it.

It happens to me all the time. And it starts with my mother from whom I have spent most of my adult life hiding. It all starts with the innocuous phone call on Sundays and that that loaded question, 'have you lost any weight?' I normally tell the truth, but once I lied and said I was a few kilos lighter. "But you sound fat," said the mater, leaving me trembling at the thought that my mother of all the people in the world had developed the extra sensory perception that enabled her to add up kilos over the telephone line.

Then there is the well meaning colleague you meet after some years. "You have put on," one such personage said to me. No, I protested, I am just more comfortable in my skin. No, no, protested the now former friend, you have put on a lot. There is no escape from such delightful candour.

The shop salesman is another potential fat-related insulter. I once went to buy a swimsuit. Something modest, I said. Oh, I have just the thing, said the oleaginous man, producing something which would have covered all my limbs and part of my chin. Not that modest I said, upon which he produced a more suitable garment which was extra large. Large will do, I said, firmly marching off with a somewhat skimpy one piece into which I could not squeeze in even if I greased myself. The oily salesman was right but I could not bring myself to accept my proportions.

The worst are the thin friends or relatives. The uni-dimensionally thin person will whine and complain about how the extra grape at dinner had caused the addition of a whole 50 gm when you are hoping that no one is noticing the wobble on your upper arms as the result of the tub of Haagen Daas that you wolfed down the night before.

Of course, you will say that there are women of proportion like Queen Latifah or Adele. But they are so rich that no one, but no one is going to say, "Hey porkie, how is the music business treating you?" No, they will say, my, how did you lose so much weight? You look amazing."

So, I have discovered that the only way to stop people from making personal remarks about your appearance is to make fun of yourself before they can. I do that a lot, and believe me it works. Now, you may say I am a coward, but how many people can I fend off with a snarl and an unfriending on Facebook?

I like to think that I make up for a bit extra around the waist with my personality, but before someone has looked past the covering and seen your soul they will just see a fat woman or man. But the good thing is that you learn to take it on the double chin after a while. And feel a little vicious glee that you are a happy camper with that nice bit of lasagna and milk shake thrown down the hatch, while the thin are perennially denying themselves these pleasures.

It is microwaved comfort, but it will do for me. And do pass the chips to tide me over till dinner.