Abida Mian's Blog

An outlier that's living, learning and being myself…

Archive for Body Shaming

Quora Question: How attractive would you rate your physical traits, on a scale of 1 to 10?

And please provide reasoning as well. I’m curious about what people find attractive about themselves and how it affects their confidence. (Please try to add photos of yourself because it is much preferable to just text.)

My answer:

I wouldn’t have answered this question of my own volition, but it was an A2A from the beautiful Aimon. As the saying goes, there always has to be one who doesn’t follow the rules. Here’s my take on what I value (not rate) about my physical traits:

It’s been a bit of a journey to get to a point where I’ve learnt a lot about what it is about me that makes me feel attractive.

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From an early age, I was overshadowed by my mother’s beauty. My friends would always comment on how stunning she was. I would watch her in awe, but my father was strict on education, he didn’t want me to be preoccupied with looks.

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I grew up as the only ethnic minority (Pakistani immigrant parents) child in school. I stood out like a sore thumb. The first memory of knowing I was different was in primary school when my friend asked me why I wasn’t White like everyone else. I remember tears falling when we had to describe each other’s eye colour, mine were the only ones that were referred to as black.

My dad had to console me. It was from there he was able to educate me on why I was different, and there was nothing to be feared.

The teenage years were difficult ones. I was a reclusive child, while the girls at school talked makeup and boys, I was reading books on pure Mathematics and Physics. Being the top student was more important than how I looked to the outside world.

Then the rebellious years came where I was trying to find my identity. I remember as a teen finding a Playboy magazine under my brothers bed one day. I looked nothing like any of those women in the pictures, Carmen Electra was unbelievably curvy. I was olive skinned, tall, flat chested and lanky. I’d try and stuff myself with chocolate to put on weight, but I always weighed the same. Frustratingly, I was envied by the anorexics, that I took as an insult and it made me hate my skinny frame even more.

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I went through a phase of being interested in the exterior, and started to notice people reacting to me differently. I’d walk into the pub and the whole room would go silent. In a rural village in the middle of nowhere, they never saw a non White girl looking very Westernised before.

I may look confident in that picture, but it was all a front. I attracted the wrong kind of men. My ex boyfriend wanted to book me in for breast augmentation. He saw me as a doll that needed fixing. He was “rating” the physical traits of a woman that were important to him, those I didn’t possess, which was to the detriment of my self-esteem.

I was crazy about him, to the extent where I allowed him to control every aspect of my life. But then I was to watch someone suffer the indignities of a terminal illness, witness them die beneath my very eyes.

I took time out and did charity work with children. It was mentally challenging to look at young children who were disfigured, but they were also my source of strength. I admired their spirit, their exterior may have changed, but they were still the same person inside. I was able to walk away from my ex boyfriend.

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Now this is the woman I’ve become and accepted.

It’s ironic that after all the years I battled through the insecurities of being different, now those are the physical traits I’m grateful for. Olive skin has helped in the ageing process, being naturally slim means I can enjoy food without the guilt, breast health over shallow concerns of being flat chested. Ultimately, comparing myself to others and then giving myself a rating based on that “ideal” perception of beauty is futile, as my exterior is what I’ve been born with and cannot change. I have my imperfections for sure, but in the grand scheme of life it’s unimportant (not for my ex but for me at least). I’m finally comfortable in my own skin.

The above forms the basis of my answer. While the “1–10 rating system” is more notably a male activity, females are guilty of using this entirely subjective point based system too (there is plenty of variance in male/female opinion).

It would be remiss of me if I did not concede that it’s simply human nature for us to want to be considered attractive. We can all say what we want about universal ideals of beauty, but in the end it’s all a matter of taste. Without question, we all have opinions and standards, and a way of categorising it. I just prefer to not reduce people to mere numbers…

For the record, it’s the way my lips smile that I value. I get a heck of a lot of free Pret coffees thanks to that 😉

Thanks Aimon for the A2A.

Best wishes,

Abi x

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Body Shaming: Kate Middleton Unfairly Slated on Royal Indian Tour by Shobhaa De

There are numerous examples of body shaming in the press. This particular one slating Kate Middleton (Duchess of Cambridge) for being thin is no better than doing it to overweight people.

In a world already bombarding us with images of what the perfect physique is, I find body shaming abhorrent. Why do women feel the need to do this to each other?

In response to Kate’s current Royal tour of India, a novelist, Shobhaa De, commented in the press:

“a saree needs curves. A saree demands a derriere,” she said. “Kate has none. Thank God, some misguided fashion guru has spared her and us so far”

This would be my response to this delightful lady.

Dear Shobhaa Ji,

In light of your recent comments, you’re certainly not a gracious or welcoming host. Clearly your mother didn’t teach you basic values such as decency and hospitality.

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Kate clearly dresses appropriately as to cause no offence to anyone and I think she has done a great job so far. She’s certainly a charming, elegant, fun (impressing Sachin with her cricket skills) woman that has handled herself with great dignity. I disagree with your comment, and hope to see her in a saree, I bet she’d look stunning, and who better to showcase India’s most beautiful garment.

I hope you enjoyed your ten minutes of fame publicly criticising Kate for being curveless. As a fellow woman, I’m sure you’re all too aware of the inordinate pressure for us to measure up to society’s perception of ideal beauty.

What sort of example are you setting impressionable teenage girls? That they shouldn’t wear certain clothes because they don’t have the body for it? Surely they’re worth more than the clothes they choose to wear? Please do your fellow sex a favour, don’t make publicly inappropriate comments that erodes our self-esteem. It’s not warranted and certainly not appreciated!

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I wear my saree with pride for my parental heritage. Like Kate, I’m also lacking in the curves department. Whilst I note your obnoxious comment, I’m afraid you don’t command enough respect for me to take you seriously. I’ll continue to wear mine, as I hope all women with curves and without will do.

In my opinion, Kate is one of the few educated and charitable female role models in the public eye. The only ‘shame’ that needs addressing is that at an age of 68, with all due respect, you’ve not grown into a wise, emotionally mature woman, instead you’ve retained your attention seeking playground bullying mentality…

Kind regards,

Abida