It's been a year since the pandemic began in India. And my fondest memories have been cooking together with my family, baking and finding solace in food because that's really all we had. We couldn't go out, and trying new dishes got us together. We burned some cookies and whipped dalgona coffee for hours. We did whatever we could to lift our spirits during the darkest year of our lives.
However, people who meet me now, a year after the pandemic began - can only focus on one thing, how I look. "Omg you've put on so much weight". Thanks, I know. But so what?
Yes, I ate. Yes, I gained weight, And no, it is not a big deal. Instead of shaming those who did what they needed to, to stay afloat during one of the toughest years of our lives, shouldn't we glad that everyone was happy? In those muffins, cakes and breads, some houses found a source of income as home kitchens were on a rise. We had food! While thousands lost their jobs.
The pandemic has led to a mental health crisis, and we will feel repercussions of the time we have spent indoors. Whether it be in the form of irregular sleeping patterns, anxiety, depression, binge-eating or lack of physical exercise, everyone had their own way of dealing with a difficult year.
Jane Brody, a Personal Health columnist for the NYT made some statements about those who baked at home during the pandemic, which we're sure come from a good place, but are quite insensitive.
While I understood their need to relieve stress, feel productive and perhaps help others less able or so inclined, bread, muffins and cookies were not the most wholesome products that might have emerged from pandemic kitchens.
With 2,703,620 deaths from COVID-19, we are not in a position to shame people for finding comfort in food, especially in cooking. Not to mention Jane's holier than thou attitude about how she does 'potion control', which basically just implied that people made the conscious choice to 'let themselves go'. That it was their fault for not being good at controlling themselves while feeling lost emotionally.
Telling people that what they did to 'comfort' themselves during the pandemic was wrong, without any solution or empathy does more damage than good. Yes, we gained weight during pandemic, because we were clinging on to good things in life. And no, you have no right to shame us for it. We are still happy with our bodies!
Spreading positivity, kindness and motivating others to do the same is a healthy response to a disastrous year. Because we need love right now, not more hate. Not people making us self conscious, even if we ourselves are comfortable in our own skin.