It was just another day in the life of just another college guy.
Standing outside the classroom, joking with his friends, he was planning the celebrations for his upcoming birthday. It was his 18th birthday, no less, and a celebration was certainly in order. He wanted to do something lavish, something really big.
"Really big? You mean, just like your size?"
Passing by, the class bully loudly remarked. Everyone laughed. Boys and girls. Friends and foes. Because an overweight boy makes for such a great joke, right?
Two days later, a night before his birthday, he committed suicide. Maybe he couldn't face anyone. Maybe he was done hearing comments about his weight. Maybe this wasn't the first time he was body-shamed. Maybe because he had had enough.
Did that stop anyone in that class from saying such things about other, not-so-slim men? Unfortunately, we don't really consider men being fat-shamed as much of a big deal.
Men are body-shamed too. And it's high time we spoke about it.
My own story revolves around my body weight.
As an overweight teenager, I finally started by weight loss process when I turned 18. Hitting the gym, suffering through various diets and dealing with a self-imposed shame for not looking a certain way, I persistently kept up with my weight loss routine.
After much hard work, over the course of 14 months, I finally shed all my excess baggage. What I couldn't however get rid of was the constant conversation around how much I weighed.
Suddenly, every single person I met would only have one thing to say.
"OMG, you've lost so much weight!"
It was either that or, "Have you put on some weight?"
It's been 12 years since and yet, I still hear one of these two sentences, every single day!
For some reason, making fun of men for their bodies isn't considered much of a problem.
"Abe yaar, kitna khaega? Waise hi itna mota hai tu!"
"Size dekha hai apna? Khaana band kar!"
How is it okay to pass such comments to any man? Why should any man tolerate this blatant disrespect? Why do we assume that if it's a man, he'll be okay with anything we say?
A man is, after all, a human being too. He too has feelings. He too feels hurt. He too feels socially ostracized.
And he certainly doesn't like to be addressed as 'mote' or 'fat'.
With all the six-pack and eight-pack abs circulating around, you're not worth anything if you don't have one yourself.
From Instagram to Netflix, Hollywood to Bollywood, everyone's either ripped or pretending to be ripped. The pressure to look a certain way has never been this strong for men.
Planning a beach vacation? Book your gym membership even before you've booked your flight tickets. Want to learn swimming? First, get in 'perfect' shape to take off your clothes to get into the pool. When Varun Dhawan and Ranveer Singh are setting newer standards for male bodies, film after film, how can you even think of feeling good about yourself?
The pressure on men to look a certain way is so high, all we can think about is our pecs, biceps and triceps.
Who said it's a man's world? It's only a ripped man's world. The others have no place of their own!
Amidst all the conversation around women getting body shamed, it's high time we spoke about men too.
Just like women, Bollywood and pop culture sets an unfair body standard for men as well. Just like women, men too face several insecurities. And just like women, men too are suffering from eating disorders and body dismorphia.
Yes, the intensity and the regularity with which women are body shamed is far, far more but it isn't that men are completely alien to these things.
From comments on social media to being ridiculed in films and television, there's a lot that's said when it comes to men struggling with their weight.
Even in Bollywood, the pressure for men to look a certain way is so much that even in their 50s, our heroes are trying to meet up the standards of beauty and fitness.
At the end of the day, a person's weight is just a number. And you can't let that number define their entire existence.
Just because he isn't 'fit' as per society's standards, doesn't mean he isn't leading a fulfilling life. From career to family, love to friendship, if he's acing all these things, it doesn't matter if he isn't looking how you'd like him to.
Body-shaming is a serious issue that's secretly and silently ruining the lives of many out there. It's high time we addressed it. And equally so for both women and men.
Can't get over someone's weight? Try getting a life instead!