One Woman’s Moving Project Tackles Body Image Through The Lens Of Cancer

One Woman’s Moving Project Tackles Body Image Through The Lens Of Cancer
Roshini Kumar

Perfection, a mere illusion our society seems to be obsessed with. Something I myself felt pressured to reach at a very young age, just like so many others today. I had always been a healthy child, a little on the chubbier side. So while most children my age worried about what game to play next, I constantly worried about what clothes to wear so I wouldn’t look fat. I would always look in the mirror, disappointed in myself, wondering why I couldn’t be like my peers. There were several clothes, I felt I absolutely couldn’t wear because of certain “rules” our society had made up that just like many others, I blindly abided by.

Once I got to the sixth grade, it only got worse. I took extreme measures to hide my insecurities. I would wear loose sweatshirts in scorching hot weather, wear black a lot, only buy loose clothes and even skip school when my weight had to be checked during physical fitness tests - this is just a small gist of it. While I should have been enjoying my childhood, I was pressured by the need to reach this unrealistic goal that I felt shamed for not reaching. I was one of the ‘fat’ people who were targeted.

I can still remember all the insults that were thrown at me by my classmates. It’s not the child’s fault really- how many times have you seen a parent correct their child for judging someone? Close to none. In fact, many a times, children learn from their parent’s judgemental behaviour towards people who are not considered normal. My most vivd memory is in the 9th grade, when I tried to eat as little as possible so I could stay thin.

Shortly after the 9th grade had started, I was diagnosed with bone cancer in the last stage. I remember looking in the mirror during my treatment, seeing a completely bald girl that had lost almost all the fat that had existed in her body, and thinking to myself why I had ever let what another person thought of me bother me, and why I let such insignificant things affect my life. I had NEVER seen my tummy so flat or my legs so thin. Yes, at the moment I had achieved my ‘dream body’ , but I couldn’t even sit up without somebody’s help. I should have spent all this time doing the things that I had really wanted. I waited to colour my hair because I was worried of what people would say, I was apprehensive of telling the boy that I liked about how I felt because I wondered why he would ever like a girl like me and I never bought all those dresses I liked because I thought would look fat in them.

Photograph by Roshini Kumar

This epiphany at a young age of 14 has helped me be the person I am today. I realised that not only can we not please society, we DON’T really need too. I decided to embrace myself and the lead the life I always wanted to. Even now, I get judged all the time for the way I have decided to look, but none of that bothers me as I atleast 90% of the time I feel content when I look at myself in the mirror now. I’m pretty sure, there are so many others worrying about their bodies or trying something new or just scared to be themselves.

Fearless to me wasn’t just a project to promote self love but also seep in and talk about larger issues in our society that everyone; especially women face against these beauty standards that society has set for us that promotes an unhealthy (mentally and physically) lifestyle that no one really wants to talk about! While it hasn’t been an easy process for myself even, I want to help others realise this through my work. About how being yourself is absolutely okay, or how embracing the body you have is completely acceptable, or just how living the life you actually want to lead is more important than the one society has decided for you.

To look at more of Roshini’s work, visit her Facebook page here.

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