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  • Kanika Bhatia

SHAME.

MC Yogi in his book Spiritual Graffiti talks about becoming good at rapping as he began to do a lot of it. The same gentle redistribution of conviction comes with emotions that aren’t necessarily contributing to a skill set. Over a short series of essays, I am going to try and cover feelings, squared into vibes of days and weeks. They have enveloped what I write, how I manoeuvre my relationships and if I am oversleeping a tad bit in bed that day. A large part of any spiritual practice remains ingraining the idea of presence and present. Being hyper aware of any temptation, resistance and touch. If cooped up in my chosen spot for hours and days, with letting myself wander (hyper aware of my subtle oxymoron plug in here), has taught me something, it’s probably the idea of meditative living. Agreed, it’s not traditional, but it’s the obsessive focus on what I feel at every waking moment for some days that I have managed to get myself out of the soup I put myself into. Let’s begin.

Over the last few months, I have devoured Jameela Jamil’s podcast “I weigh,” stacked away weights in a dark corner of a wardrobe I don’t use, deliberately hoarded on  rather questionable silhouettes of umbrellas, a tent and what can only be narrowed down to an amoeba. I have been living in my clean little bubble of healthy breakfasts, delectable lunches and rather hypocrite choice in desserts. This, when I don’t have a sweet tooth, or a clear need to end my meals with sugar. I know that you call someone obese when they are 20 percent over their ideal weight. Why do I even know that? The weighted costs (pun intended) of my active choices has pushed the contours of my alphabet inspired figure. I am no longer an S - in shape or size. From an average size UK 6-8, yours truly, has progressed to a 10 or maybe even beyond. I dare not measure. While decoding fashion for my peculiar body type, I am detailing out styles that tame arms, hide stomach layers and preferably on the high-low rung of fashion. I have developed an effective system of convincing myself how I deserve rewards in the form of no workout days that have extended into weeks and now months. But here’s the thing, it’s not a spiralling journey downwards. If anything it’s a revolving door of active choices, and the shame that follows. 

Logic dictates a rationale of halting regrettable actions. You hate something about yourself, you stop or change it, right? But what if you want to continue indulging, just to see how far can you really go? What if this idea of societal conditioning, that no exercise, sedentary lifestyle and indulgent meals is hate worthy and deserves self chiding, is just that? A social construct. What if you start enjoying the shame that comes with it? I have caught myself staring into the mirror not recognising this physical self, yet loving the acceptance I am growing into. Ideally, I should be shaming myself into stringent diets with a dedicated hour to self care that doesn’t involve just masking. But my idea of self care is changing at this point. 

Shame is such a strong emotion. Hoping that it makes sense but at this point in time, I am shamelessly shameful of my shame worthy lifestyle and yet shameless enough to do nothing about it. Here’s my mental polaroid capturing the ‘huh?’ expression on your face. I don’t wish to change my choices, even if they are bad for me. I am loving the idea of this slow metamorphosis into a rounder, plumper me. Amidst the happiness around acceptance, I am still here debating which is the dominant drive. If I am all that content on gaining more than a few extra kilos to freely shed, why am I conscious of my body when it comes to intimacy? I am unknowingly checking the XL stock of clothes I like online rather than a medium or large. Natural progression of weight in my head is so much larger than it probably is in reality. I find myself shimmy-ing the arm fat, and then talking in third person to myself. I have gone from “Kanika, you stubborn little rat” to “Kanika, the balloon that doesn’t float.” I have thanked my stars for choosing a long distance relationship because maybe, just maybe the next time I see him, I would have figured my way around either the weight or the consciousness. My gram (subtle appeal to millennials and Gen Z) boasts of my face but no latest full body images. I have almost deleted the idea that I am more than my face for Instagram. 

Circling back, why am I so ashamed yet so happy with myself? How is this unreal balancing act achieved if at all someone demands a recipe? The closest term I could find to what I am feeling is Agathokakological- an oversized word that denotes something both good and evil. This fat acceptance movement isn’t shy of its hypocrisy. But just like MC Yogi, I seem to be getting really good at loving myself at my most loathsome self (for me.) I will bring myself to take less space (literally) eventually. The faith is amusing. But the shame, that’s what is a novelty. I haven’t ever felt that emotion before over a prolonged period of time. At the risk of cliches, 2020 has been to say the least, self discovering. And here’s mine. I am good at this shame game. I thrive on using it to my benefit when I wish to hide from the world, to drive me when I want to, and to amuse me when I am l down. From October 2019, to May 2020, I have fallen down so many times and been through the lowest rung of my life ladder. I would break down at the drop of a hat, and self doubt was the middle name my parents forgot to tell me about. So this freshly discovered pile of gooey emotion called shame has nothing on me. If anything it has churned out some 1200 odd words for you to read, and I’d say that’s a win. 



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