Shreyas Nambiar, a placement professional based in Pune, minces no words when talking about body shaming. In this episode of Gender Jalebi, he looks back at a childhood where the size of his thighs was commented on or casually thrown into conversations about him. He admits to being aware of his body and the supposed ‘flaws’ that it has, but also that it has never thrown him off his game. He continues to be confident and it doesn’t weigh on his mind on a daily basis.
While talking about this refreshing response to being made to feel ashamed about the body, or at least some parts of it, Shreyas points to the gendered nature of the conversation. He recalls instances of his female colleagues asking for their pictures to be taken in multiple poses, and again and again, till they appeared “not fat” and appropriately pretty. “Women, by the time they are in their 20s, are told very clearly that they are going to be judged very harshly and that they need to be perfect all the time.”
This podcast, however, is focused on the experience of body image issues that men and boys go through, often silently. Shreyas agrees that it is a fact and that the range of experiences varies. The problems here often come rooted in the narrow, unquestioned ideas of ‘masculinity’ – think 6-pack abs, buff bodies, deep voices, et al! “I know many men who have suffered a lot of abuse because of their bodies, because they didn’t match the ideas of ‘masculine’.” he says. “I think I am lucky that it doesn’t affect me. But these stories need to come out, and they need to be more inclusive.”
Listen in for more….
Written by Shruti Sharada.