Post pregnancy body IS flawless, was never taught to us by anyone. Women become less attractive to men. They attract a platoon of mother’s advising how to shed that weight soon. A mammoth of products are available to get rid of those stretch marks. Drinks to reduce that celluloid. Fad diets to melt that fat.
These were a couple of thoughts that sailed through Tanya’s mind whenever she had a little quiet time. Whenever her daughter latched to satiate her hunger. Tanya loathed her body. It had only been 3 weeks. But her doctor had already labelled her as someone suffering from post natal depression. ‘It happens’ , doctor said. But why? I am healthy. My baby is gorgeous, I had the delivery of my choice. Then why am I depressed.
It started in the same room she was sitting in. When the first jolt came. ‘Keep on feeding like this, and you’ll be back to normal within a few months time.’ Normal? What was she now? 40 days post delivery, she managed to get an hour for herself. And decided to catch up with some friends. The first welcoming remark she got the moment she stepped in the room was, ‘Oh! I thought it was an elephant entering.’
She cried her lungs out in her bed that night. Nobody understood why it was a big deal. Wasn’t she BIG?
She had gained 30 KGS in her pregnancy. And it was not by choice. She ate healthy, maybe it was just the way her body processed food.
Yet the magnitude with which she was reminded each day was marvelous. And body shaming by her own clan, by women who have delivered, and knew her position, by her mother and mother in law. And sister. And those billboards and magazine covers filled with women with a perfect body within weeks of having a baby made her life worst. Instead of focussing and being grateful for this lovely human she created, she started living for future. ‘I will be happy WHEN, I lose weight. I will be happy WHEN my baby stops breastfeeding, I will be happy WHEN these stretch marks fade away’.
She distanced herself from everyone, with the fear of being judged. Her husband, her family. Just mechanically doing her job as a mother. She delivered around the same time a few celebrity moms delivered. And getting a constant feedback from media as to how gorgeous they look each day played havoc with her mind. Not registering the army of people they have to raise one child. And here she was alone. She even didn’t realise that How their necks and legs and skin was photoshopped and her pores were real.
Within few months, the wardrobe became black, as black makes you look thin someone advised. Denims were taken over by Pajama’s and oversized tops and kurtas became her mask to hide from the world.
Even in places like movie theaters and supermarkets she was under constant fear that everyone is laughing at her.
The voices in her head grew loud. She bought all that was available on the shelves to tighten and brighten the skin. She couldn’t register one single fact that it is all a marketing gimmick. If the companies didn’t make her feel ugly about herself, how will she become their target customer. How will all those oils sell, if she started considering those marks as medals and not something to shame about.
How would they make her eat those weight loss powders if she started celebrating her motherhood.
That morning, Rajiv, Tanya’s husband was getting late for work but she wouldn’t open the bathroom door. Even their daughter kept on crying but the door was still bolted from inside. After a while Rajiv panicked. The door’s lock was broken. And there laid Tanya, finally happy in her skin with the white lather coming out of her mouth. She had a note in her hand.
‘I’m sorry, but I can’t take it anymore.’
Picture credits: Jade Beall.
From the book: Bodies of the mothers