The story starts with a world obsessed with ‘perfection’. A world where ‘perfect’ is ingrained in our systems like you would to a nail with a hammer. ‘Perfect’ has but one meaning and it is sold to us in bush pink alphabets sprinkled with glitter on glossy magazine covers. Eat this. Wear this. Look like this.
And in that same world, there was a little girl. Well, I wouldn’t say little, she was let’s say, a big girl.
I was what they say an overweight baby, with four chins, drooping cheeks and a belly which made me roll all over the bed. At that time it was considered adorable- “Aww what a cute baby. Her cheeks are like ladoos, I want to eat them”, they would say, while almost snatching them off my face.
However as I grew up, I was familiarised with the concept of ‘perfect’.
I was given all sorts of ‘endearing’ nicknames that many fat kids can relate to. I was expected to respond to every time someone said Golu, Motu, Aaloo, Bhais Ka Bachha and Baby Elephant.
When asked how is Col. Malhotra’s daughter, the first word they would say is FAT. At an early age, I laughed proudly shaking my jelly belly but slowly from fondness disgust grew in their eyes. I wasn’t perfect and fat wasn’t a compliment.
One fine school day I saw my friend crouching in our dormitory bathroom, finger in mouth, coughing. I asked her what she was doing and she replied nonchalantly,
“I ate too much rajma chawal during lunch. I do this every day. If I puke everything out, eating too much doesn’t matter right? Wanna Try?”
That’s how our friendship grew. Like morning assembly was a part of our routine, this too became the done deal of the day.
It continued for many years and from obese I went on to become just plain fat. And from fat, I went to skinny. I smiled everytime someone said, “My God! Your bones are jutting out!”
When a fat kid becomes skinny, it is eligible to go on before and after pages.
How could I not fall in love with my illness when my parents beamed at me with pride and congratulated me on “finally choosing a healthy lifestyle.”
Girls stopped me and asked which diet I was following. Aunties stopped me and said you look so pretty, Anu. (They really called me by my name. For the first time, it wasn’t Golu.)
How could I not fall in love with my eating disorder when everyone around me seemed to love it?
I could now wear the shorts I had picked out in 3 sizes smaller to act as “inspiration”. I could now go on a beach holiday and not wrap my flab in a towel while my friends played volleyball on the beach.
I counted calories, I recounted calories and I recounted calories once again. My constant Google search would be- how many calories in one drink of vodka, in one bowl of oats, in the toothpaste that I might have swallowed while brushing.
Yes. I have been there.
Slowly, what began as a sitting side by side and puking hobby became my solitary motive. Friends, I didn’t need friends. You’ve to go out for lunches with them, they already suspect that you have an eating disorder what if they follow you to the bathroom. You’ve to do sleepovers, where will you puke there?
How am I supposed to not fall in love with my eating disorder when all the boys fell in love with me because of it?
I felt in control of my body. I ate to my heart’s content and then puked it out too. How could I not love my illness when it was the only thing that made me feel close to the perfection that had been shoved down my throat for years.
I look in the mirror on some days and the tiny fat kid looks back at me and says, “You made it! You’re there and you’re perfect.” I smile back at her and think to myself, “I’m still in love with my illness, aren’t I?”