I was never, as people liked to call it, a ‘lean’ child. I mean as a baby and a toddler I was the chubbiest kid you could ever find. See below for some of those badass poses I pulled off back then.
As I started to grow up, however, things started to change. This was the root of all that insecurity. I had every relative of mine compared me and my body to my super skinny sister and cousins and made remarks which went along the lines of, ‘Praveena is the chubbiest of them all isn’t it?’, ‘If she loses some weight and her belly, it will be perfect’. Some of my male uncles even went to extent of poking fun out of my weight. I remember one of my uncles came to our house a day or two after my Arangetram (my debut Bharathanatya performance) and was comparing me to my slimmer cousins and said, ‘Praveena you are fat aren’t you?’ – if you think this sounds bad in English, then it sounds 100 times worse in Tamil. See my arangetram photos below and you tell me if I was in anyway overweight, because honestly speaking, I think I looked sickly skinny.
At this point I want to remind you of a few things. Even if you are joking, do not make such remarks to anyone, let alone a child or teenager. It is horrible to say such things and you are horrible to think and say such things. It is so easy for anyone to make these remarks without any thought about what the consequences are – you are indirectly helping them to feel more insecure. So who is the bad person? YOU.
Anyway, back onto what this blog is about. Me. Well, I went through bad phases when I starved myself because I wanted to prove a point that I can be ‘skinny’ too. This was particularly the case when I started university and my mum was not there to make me food.
Do you know when things started to change for me? When I started taking dance more seriously in 2nd and 3rd year of university. For me at the time, I started to realise that starving myself was extremely harmful for my body, and jeopardised my ability to dance. During this whole realisation, I found out that if I want to build up my stamina and have ample energy to dance, I need to eat plenty and healthy. That is when things started to change. People thought that I was losing weight in the past 2 years, but in fact I have remained the same weight for the past 3/4 years. The difference is, I have started to tone up.
Here is my second point I want to remind you about. Your weight should not be defined by a numerical value, but by how healthy and happy you feel. This is different for each person. So when people ask me why I love dance so much, aside from the fact that I love dancing, I actually learnt to respect my body. I learnt to love my body. Weird right, that dance has made me feel all these things. Well it has, which is why I put dance at a very high place when it comes to my mental well-being.
Yes, I still do go through ups and down when it comes to my body. Even recently, I went through a whole phase where I started feeling very insecure about my body. The reason for this was because I was eating so unhealthily, so two weeks ago I started to cut down. I started: cutting down on white carbs, eating more fruits, drinking more water and hula-hooping more. The result of it is I FEEL amazing. I do not know whether by body has changed, but I do not care. When I feel my healthier body, my mind naturally is happier and healthier.
For me diet and exercise is not about losing, but about toning and most importantly feeling happy and healthy.