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Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most beautiful of them all?

A teenage girl overcomes her body image issues...

Delving into the mind of a 13-year-old, Nishtha Juneja writes about body image issues a teenage girl goes through and her will to overcome them.

Day 1:

My hair is frizzy. Why can’t it be straight? Ughh…I hate my body. I am fat and ugly, a complete waste of space. When I look at fashion magazines, all I feel is bad about the way I look. The only way to feel better is to eat, and sometimes I binge. But, I still like reading fashion magazines styling hacks. I’m sure everyone noticed how I paired the white skirt with the lace top. I particularly want Rihaan to take note of it. How I love him, only if he loved me back. But he loves Anisha. She is tall, slim, fair, and has lovely straight hair. No wonder she is playing the lead in the annual play, Aladdin. But I am also part of the production, playing Shehazade, a small but prominent part. That reminds me, I better learn the lines of the play. We’re having rehearsals tomorrow.

Day 2:

Today was a mix of good and bad. The bad part was that some boys made fun of my weight and called me a fatso because I was too slow to climb the three-floored school building. The good part was that dramatics teacher called me a “laughing rose”. What does he see that Rihaan doesn’t? I may not be as thin and tall as Anisha, but I am certainly good on stage. I guess I should focus on the play more than what others have to say about me. But, it’s not as easy as it sounds. When all of them gang up and start calling you names, it’s difficult to stand up to them. Sometimes, I ignore them and walk away, but sometimes when I cannot get away, I feel TRAPPED! Not a good feeling…

Day 3:

Today was the worst day of my life. The absolute WORST. I want to DIE. Life has no meaning. I get humiliated every day because of my weight. Today after rehearsal, Anisha’s friend pushed me and I fell on the ground. My skirt lifted and everyone saw my underpants. It was EMBARASSING as hell. The worst part was that everyone started laughing. I hate all of them. I hate my flabby arms and thighs. I am going to stop eating food. There’s just no other way to reduce. Now, I haven’t eaten anything after coming back from school; but as I am rehearsing lines for the play, my head is spinning like a table top. I think I should eat something, just a little bit of the chocolate cookies to make me feel better?

Day 4:

A miracle happened today. Anisha cannot do the play, and I am given the titular role to act because I am “confident” and my “speech is clear” according to the dramatics teacher. I was on the top of the world. I forgot all about the teasing and bitching, I forgot all about the heavy thighs and chubby hands, I forgot all about the humiliating jokes they laugh about. For a moment, I was unbreakable. Surprisingly, everything became wonderful even my frizzy hair and my heavy gait! Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy…

Day 5:

I want to not feel bad but I cannot deny what I am feeling. Today we were trying out clothes for the play and I didn’t fit into any of Anisha’s clothes. I felt embarrassed about my body, and felt like vanishing. One of the teachers has asked me to reduce. The other asked me to eat less to lose some inches. Don’t I know all of these? Since, nothing fit me, all the girls started giggling and whispering. They also told the boys and they started their rant again. And, to my utter shock, Rihaan was also part of the group. Though he didn’t participate in the teasing, he was still there, like a bystander, not doing anything. I felt hurt and cried a bit in the bus while coming back.

Day 6:

The play is tomorrow. I am excited and nervous. I am confident about my performance but I wonder if I will look attractive. The new clothes are lovely but I haven’t really lost a lot of weight. Actually, I haven’t lost any weight. I am still the same. Should I hate myself for being this way? There are numerous other qualities such as confidence and the ability to enunciate clearly, optimism and determination that are equally important. Is it okay to accept the way I look? Am I beautiful? Am I pretty? Am I worth looking at?

Day 7:

I was right. The play went off seamlessly without a glitch. Everyone, from friends to teachers, appreciated my performance. Also, at the end of the show, I heard a rumour that Anisha didn’t participate in the play because Rihaan didn’t want her to, apparently he feared that Jasmine and Aladdin would pair up in real life as well. Maybe the grass seems greener on the other side. Anisha’s life seems perfect, but I would never trade it with what I have - freedom. And, of course, my new found confidence. As far as my relationship with food is concerned, we’d like to keep it healthy and casual (pun intended).

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Decoding the deal with Sharmaji Ka Beta

We have been compared to him, we've hated him and envied him too but this Sharmaji ka beta somehow always finds a way to belittle us. Let's try and crack the code of dealing with this Mr. Good at everything...
Ritika SrivastavaTeentalkindia Counsellor

It is almost amusing how there is national consensus on the proverbial ‘Sharmaji Ka Beta’ (those Sharmaji ka beta memes and jokes are proof) being the overachiever we’ve all been compared to. This most famous beta of the country seems to be a part of all our lives and somehow seems to be better than all of us put together. He seems to overshadow all our achievements and just be better at everything, ever!

Well, if you are through with those comparisons then here is a five step formula to taking him with a pinch of salt and never letting him in the way of your self-esteem.

Next time you find yourself dreading, meeting the proverbial son at that social gathering, look back at these and remind yourself that being you is your superpower...

“There will always be comparisons with another person in any sphere, there is always going to be someone taller, better, more intelligent than you are, but once you make your peace with that, things get easier. It isn't important to pay heed to comparisons with the over achiever, even though these comparisons can be hurtful and can dent your self-esteem, you must not allow it to!" says popular author Kiran Manral.

You don’t run the world

Something’s you gotta give! You can’t do everything. You can’t play a part at that school play and be in that book club and win that chess championship all at once. You must speak up if you are overcommitted. It’s okay to say no to a few things and it is important to prioritize. Learn to make the right choice and learn to let go!   

Downtime matters

It is this very downtime that makes you better at everything else! Being able to take care of yourself may be an underestimated skill but you need to master it non-the-less. So take a break, relax, sleep it off, invest in a hobby and do nothing at times, so you can come back and be better at what you must do.

It’s alright to disappoint others 

You weren’t put on this planet to please people. It’s alright if you can’t please everyone as long as you are content. Keep things in prospective and seek joy from life not people’s approval. People-pleasing is a lethal trap that gets you nowhere.

"It is important to remember that all people are different and have different skills and capabilities. And most importantly, that everyone has a special skill or talent. Work towards finding out what yours is and focus on that. When you find what you enjoy doing, and what you are good at, these comparisons will automatically become unimportant and you will find your purpose” Manral quips.

You are the pilot of your life

Nobody but you get to decide what you are good at. That the proverbial Sharmaji ka beta is good at something is no reason for you to master that trait! Find your own calling in life, pursue what you love/ dream to be and do everything to get there but don’t let anyone take that call for you.

Being you is more important than being perfect

Learn to celebrate your flaws and talents in equal measure. You are what you are because of this combination so take time to celebrate what makes you, you!


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