Recently I finished reading “Dumplin” by Julie Murphy, a bestselling YA book. I picked it up on the resident teenager’s recommendation, who declared that you should not miss this book before you turn 18. But hold on, before you conclude that I am a naïve teenager who is writing an unwanted review, let me clarify that I am not a teenager, and certainly not writing any review for the book which was released many years back.
In fact, I am a mum of two girls, who is still trying to understand the social taboos that push you into believing the way you ‘should be’! Or maybe I wanted to reflect on the beliefs of the present generation through a book or could be testing my folly in my own conditioning. I took more than a month to finish the book, mostly because of the unending ‘Mommy work’. But my mission was accomplished when I finally read the last page and a sense of satisfaction ran through me. The first question which came to my mind was, “Is it really just a YA read for a teenager”? Certainly not, I think. All those who are struggling with body shaming and often made to feel that they should not be comfortable in their own skin should read it loudly.
Dumplin is a story of an overweight teen and how she had never struggled hard to fit into zero sizes. She had never compared herself to that much-coveted figure of her friends. How she was never a victim of guilt traps, or others judging her. And this is the reason why this book stands differently. Doubtless, it has become one of the bestsellers because we are regularly witnessing body shaming, and end up not feeling comfortable in our own skin. We obsess with the attributes we do not possess and get trapped in a vicious cycle of unhappiness with the way our bodies are.
Perfection is the new operative word, and how we run after it regardless of everything. But shouldn’t we introspect a bit more on this? Honestly, if I need to compare myself even with my siblings or parents, we all are different even with same DNA. Certainly, we need to break the myths around this ‘perfection’.
Perfection is not a single frame all fit into. It’s not about setting some permanent parameters where you see others with the same lens. It is not always the way you think of and look at, and not everyone has the same perspective. It’s different for each individual. There is no perfection of only 36-24-36, and there are many more perfections beyond it.
When I say body-shaming, I include skin color too. I am a dusky woman and I know the scars of how it feels to have a ‘not so-wanted skin tone’, growing up. It’s like you are blamed for a crime which you haven’t done! You bear and hear all those things which nowhere define you.
I had my own set of challenges and I came out of those. I stopped paying heed to such advises and followed my heart. I am happy with my skin which doesn’t need any fairness beauty treatment just to get one tone better. And why would I, just because the so-called obsessed people don’t like it?
Obviously, this is not my only agenda in my life. I don’t know about others but as a Mum, I will try to make sure that my daughters also don’t set this agenda for their life. Apart from many lessons in my life, this is one of the most important which I want my daughters to follow. I don’t want my daughters to get into such traps of beauty standards which are sheer ignorance and nothing else. I want them to feel and be comfortable in their own skin, and the way they want to with no ‘conditions apply’!
After so many years and being a mum now I realized how wrong our society is. A person is not allowed to live happily with her skin and her weight issues. How insensitive and cruel can this be? The impact is serious and petrifying. Imagine, a person has to answer all those people who themselves are not beauty pageant winners and advising nonchalantly. They really need to grow up!
This is the way I am and I know I am not harming others… I no longer am prey to the judging and the giving of unwanted advice, which has no meaning at all. It sucks completely and creeps into your life if you pay heed to such hollow minded people. I am not against being fit or healthy, but let the person herself decide for herself what can work — good or bad.
If I look around then the race to become fair or to shed some extra pounds is already at peak… What are they selling? What kind of competitor are you creating? And of course, the unwanted stress which is burdening lives? And a disastrous message, that anyone who is not fair and slim should be ashamed of herself or himself (oh, yes, haven’t watched the ‘fair and handsome’ ad?)!
The definition of beauty is not all about being fair or having a perfect figure. It’s all about how you are conquering the world with your hard work, wisdom, perseverance, and surely compassion. This is what makes you a person which everyone remembers at the end!
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