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The Magical Yellow Dress: How My Daughter Helped Me Accept My Body

19/12/2015 8:08 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Mother and daughter on a beach

As a mother, my current worry is to increase my daughter's body weight. She is five and weighs 16kg and I want her to touch her ideal weight by the end of this year.

As a woman, my current worry is to lose my body weight. I am slightly over 5ft tall and weigh slightly over 65kg and I too want to touch my ideal weight by the end of this year.

Ironically, there's a connection between the two. I believe I can partially attribute my extra weight to my daughter's slimness. In my efforts to tempt her with nice, delicious (and often overloaded sugar and chocolate) things and her insistence on having just a bite, I ended up bingeing on them.

The cycle of continually eating baby's leftover food was going well until she started to go to a school that is located in the centre of the city. Most of the kids here are picked up by their hot, well-dressed and sexy working moms. As a result of a deeply harboured and mighty (albeit suppressed) inferiority complex about my body shape, I became conscious of my extra weight.

"You are alright," she said. "You remember that yellow dress? The one that you wore to my school the other day? You look so thin in that."

In the last five years post delivery, I've gained about 10kg, with most of it showing in my midsection, where sits a stubborn tyre of fat around my tummy.

To hide these imperfections, I found solace in Indian ethnic wear, particularly the salwar-kameez, an ensemble highly forgiving of bodily imperfections.

So for over four years I wore only (I mean only) Indian ethnic wear whenever I had to leave the house.

However, as I mentioned, with my daughter starting school, the flock of stylish, fit moms I'd see daily made me re-evaluate my own appearance. Weeks passed by and then months of watching other women dressed up so impeccably in pleated dresses with polished shoes. My complex about my body expanded to include my clothes as well.

I sometimes wondered if those women ever had a bad hair day or if they really carried their Louis Vuitton bags every day. Because if I had had a Louis Vuitton or even a Kors for that matter, I am sure I would have locked it up safely in a neat drawer designated only to that particular bag and each time I had to step out, I would look at the bag and admire its beauty and close the drawer again. I couldn't take the risk of making a Kors or Vuitton dirty!

After consistent mommy-watching, eight months ago I gathered the courage broaden my wardrobe and embrace Western dresses. I got a few outfits tailor-made for myself, and to my surprise I looked better than I expected.

While my husband has always preferred (and he still does) Indian attire on me, my daughter seemed very pleased with this Western influence in her mom's wardrobe.

I was happy too with the change and googled for ways to enhance my curves and camouflage the bulges. Each time I googled, the first thing it showed up was -- exercise. After all, losing fat is the best way to show curves and diminish hanging flesh.

Inspired by Tiffany Rothe and Bipasha Basu, I began exercising. My daughter found these aerobic sessions highly intriguing. The moment I put on my shoes, she would flood me with questions.

"Mumma, are you exercising to become thin?"

"Yeah, I am," I' say, giving her a peck on her cheek.

"Oh! So you want to become thin like me?"

"Yes baby. I do."

"Then why do you want to increase my weight?"

It took me days to explain to her that she was too thin and I carried too much weight so I was trying my best to bring both of us to a healthy balance.

That day, in that yellow dress, I felt comfortable in my body. She called it magic. I called it love.

She seemed to understand.

One day while I put on my shoes after a break of a week, she said something that made me stop in my tracks.

"Mumma, don't exercise. You are not fat."

"I am baby. I am."

"No. You are not. You are alright mumma. Who calls you fat?"

There. There she said something that I long wanted to hear from myself.

"You are alright," she said. "You remember that yellow dress? The one that you wore to my school the other day? You look so thin in that."

"Do I? Really?"

"Yes. In that yellow dress. You should wear it every day."

I hugged her. Smothered her with kisses and love and gave up that day's exercise.

A week later, I put on my shoes again and she remarked:

"Exercise?"

"Yes. I need to lose a bit of weight."

"Where?"

"Here," I said pointing to my tummy.

"Oh! You got it today?"

"No. It has been there since your birth."

"Where was it when you wore that yellow dress?"

I paused for a moment.

"Wear the yellow dress right now. This tummy will vanish in that dress."

I knew the dress wasn't magical and nor would my tummy evaporate, but I gave in to my baby's demand and wore the yellow dress.

"See, your tummy's gone. Don't exercise mumma, wear this dress instead."

I peeked at the mirror, and sure enough, there was no sign of the tummy. Obviously, it was there physically but psychologically it wasn't visible to me. It wasn't bulging anymore.

I placed my hand on my tummy and for the first time in five years, I loved myself in my overweight body.

Call it an illusion, attribute it to the designer's wiles or to my selective blindness, but that day, in that yellow dress, I felt comfortable in my body.

She called it magic. I called it love.

A version of this post first appeared on Womanatics.com.

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