Star Speak, By Shaheen Abbas: A Note To Every Woman Who Has Felt She Is Not Skinny Or Beautiful Enough
Star Speak is an ongoing series of columns, penned by celebrities we are used to seeing on these pages. This is their space to write about their take on fashion, the fraternity and whatever else catches their fancy.
This week’s column comes from jewelry designer, Shaheen Abbas who shares four life lessons that will serve every woman well. You can follow Shaheen on Instagram here and on Twitter here.
For every woman who has felt she is not skinny or beautiful enough: life lessons from someone who has been there, done that, and emerged (a little bit) wiser.
I used to be one of those women, who would feel guilty for having zero control over food and berate myself for all the junk food that I ate, get pissed at the mirror over the slightest hint of a frown line, and obsess over those few extra kilos and grams on the weighing scale. How flawless I looked in that bodycon dress was the only (and truest) measure of my beauty, right? So damn wrong!
Why are we women so hard on ourselves? The abs are never washboard enough, the arms never lithe enough, the skin never glowing enough… it’s like we take some sort of perverse pleasure in brooding over our flaws. We are addicted to bashing ourselves over our appearance. We’ll say YES to crash diets, unsupervised workouts, and complain about how “fat” we are, but it’s always a NO to the beautiful person that stares back at us in the mirror.
Something stirred inside me during the last year of being in my 30’s (I turned 40 this March, in case you were wondering!), and yanked me to a state of self-awareness. I decided to say a giant “F**k you!” to all these unhealthy insecurities that weigh us women down. I mean, after 14,600 days of dealing with these doubts and worries, it was about damn time that I felt like I had enough! If I wanted to celebrate myself (and not just the number of candles on my cake), there was no better time than now. So here I am.
But let me make one thing very clear. This is not some sort of sermon on body positivity or a preachy celebrate yourself lecture. I can’t force you into a revelation on how YOU should treat YOUR body with TLC. But I can share with you what I’ve learnt, often the hard way. Think of this as some hard-hitting truths from a woman who means well. Someone needs to say it like it is, right?
Lesson #1: Young is being able to laugh till ur stomach hurts at the stupidest of things, not the absence of frown lines.
I always marvel at women who have injected every last inch of their face in a quest to look younger. So much so that they are now beyond recognition and the entire world knows the work thy have had done. Did I miss the memo that we are supposed to give the Gigis and Kendalls of the world a run for their money and lose our ability to smile in the process?
Now don’t get me wrong. I am not against vanity; I am most definitely vain. I am not against a cosmetic nudge here and there to look fresher either. I don’t feel the need to hide the fact that I have tried injectables myself. All I am saying is use it within sensible limits. Own your age; don’t try to erase all evidence of it. It defeats the purpose of ageing with confidence, fun and style. We are so blessed to reach the age we are so why be embarrassed about it. Own those laugh lines, it makes us who we are. Let’s not end up looking like circus monkeys, shall we?
Lesson #2: Food is not the enemy.
Every time I am in a snug outfit that accentuates my frame, I will have someone invariably come up to me and say, “You must’ve starved yourself for days to get into that outfit!” Such statements shock me to no end. Why do we consider food as an enemy in our quest to become fit? Being fit does not mean starving yourself. I eat whatever I crave, but I balance it out by working out very consistently. Stop abusing your body by putting it through crappy diets or depriving yourself of your favourite treats. Understand the power of eating right. Eat the damn burger, if you so crave. Or fill yourself up with so many paani-puris that you can’t move. Just dont stop working out and moving that body. Find a healthy balance. It’s as simple as that.
Lesson #3: Being fit does not mean being skinny.
Yes, I am four-five kilos heavier than what I used to be a few years ago, have wiggly arms, cellulite in my thighs and stretch marks that can give zebras a run for their money. But I am fit, so thigh gaps be damned, I say!
I discarded associating being fit with being thin a year back, when I decided to run the marathon. It was a big step considering my horribly weak back. I did not do it to lose weight. I did it to build mental focus. And in the process, ended up appreciating and respecting my body like never before. The same thighs I considered my ‘problem area’ in the gym, kept me going for 2.5 hours, and didn’t give up even when my mind was tired.
So here’s my lesson: respect your body, it’s the only one you have. Stop judging your appearance by the number on the weighing scale. Skinny and fit are not synonymous. I may not have the metabolism of a 22-year-old but I can run faster than my 15-year-old son and digest junk food better than my 26-year-old sister. How many ‘thin’ women can say that?
So what’s the key to being fit? One word: consistency. I don’t change my dietician every month, jump onto every latest fitness craze, or hop from one trainer to the other. Nor do I crib about my weight to every person who will listen. Stop complaining and start moving. Dieticians, trainers, and instructors are not magicians— there are no instant results when you’re trying to build a healthy life. But keep at it. Dedicate your time, mind and body to a balanced regime and once you are addicted to those endorphins, the results will astound you.
Lesson #4: Stop ‘filtering’ your body beyond recognition. Own you shape!
How many ‘beauty’ apps is your phone populated with? Too many to count? Most of us are guilty of that. We use 600 filters (to look slimmer and younger beyond recognition) before posting a picture on Instagram. And then we thrive on the number of likes those pictures get. (But can’t seem to take a genuine compliment from someone who is seeing us in the flesh.)
Berating yourself is NOT COOL and never has been. Stop the harsh judgment of self and the next time someone at a party tells you that you look great in that dress, don’t be like, “Oh, this is the only thing that fits me now” bullshit. Just say thank you and know that you REALLY do!