My oldest friend got married this week. The holiday season, therefore, has also carried the wedding whirlwind. I remember meals and events, some clothes as well; I have spent the past week connecting with friends old and new, laughing loudly, surrounded by people I love and that seems like a great start to the year already. When the generic ‘family, friendships, love and laughter’ wishes are ringing true right at the beginning, I wonder what else to wish for in 2018. But because I think of myself as a wishful person, but not so much a resolutions one, it’s not surprising that some incidents of the past few days have given me food for thought. Here are some of them:
I have a friend from school, who back then was the most popular amongst us. She had it all going for her (she still does) — confidence levels that feel humanely unattainable, a sunny outlook on life, a great sense of humour, and a string of boyfriends. Ask anyone and they’d tell you that this person, also a dancer, is gorgeous. But you know what she says to me? “I’ve never been able to look at myself in a mirror and feel happy about what I see.”
Another friend, also reckoned gorgeous by those around her, struggled with a tummy tucker through dinner one night. I wondered why she put herself through the discomfort of what sounded like fashion’s verse of the noose, tightening around the stomach, and killing what is left of her self-worth. I asked her and she said that she has accepted the flab around her middle. “It’s what people will think (of me being lazy) and the photos that scare me,” she said.
If each meal of the season could be differentiated by its cuisine, the conversation at the table could have been copy-pasted. There will be ‘diet talk’ during the meal and ‘how to fit into clothes’ exclamations right after, which excludes unintentionally the disinterested and the non-dieting, and expects the ‘best’ of the lot to bother about both. Then, there was the person, who wanted to ‘do’ everything with her partner, who wanted to carry a part of her partner’s soul as a declaration of love and who, in my humble opinion, could’ve been confusing co-dependency with conjoint lives.
Why are these ‘friends’ all women, you may ask? The truth is that I’m not sure why, because men face very similar issues too and it isn’t any easier, knowing from conversations with the few of them vocalise what the world does to them. So then my wishes for the year would be: that we work towards loving our bodies, however different or non-conforming they might be and maybe by the end of the year find no flaws with them; that when accept our bodies fully, we will wean off painful products that project us unnaturally; that we will eat without guilt and take out the regret, if any, by ourselves at the gym instead of being the killjoy at a group dinner; that we work towards love that allows for autonomy that further anchors the relationship.
If a ‘revolution is the force that gives life meaning’, promise to start a revolution in yourself this year, and then also try to ‘be a lamp, a lifeboat or a ladder’ for others.
The writer is a city-based activist, in-your-face feminist and a media glutton