KARACHI: I had never been as conscious of my appearance as I have been in the last couple of months. I gave birth about seven months ago, and every time I looked at my stretched and broken body in a mirror all I could think of is how to ‘fix’ it eventually and hide it for now.
I feel that living in a place like Karachi makes being bigger all the more daunting – every one here appears so glamorous and outward appearances are given so much value. “I almost didn’t recognise you. You used to have such a toned body. Did you eat lots of junk?” is what an aunty said to me when she came to visit me and my baby Anya, for the first time, at two months pospartum. “I just zipped my mouth shut moments after delivery and lost all the weight in three months” a friend revealed. “Breastfeeding will make you lose it all!” others said. SPOILER: breastfeeding doesn’t make you lose weight at all. In fact, I have never been hungrier and I’ve never craved sugar more, more so than when I was even pregnant.
These comments stayed with me, even though I had some lovely friends and family around me, with lots of supportive messages. To be honest, motherhood is a joy. I never knew I was capable of loving someone as deeply and completely as I love my daughter, Anya. But being a mother, especially a first timer, is overwhelming – you don’t sleep, you’re constantly exhausted, there are so many things you feel guilty about, you keep wondering if you are a bad mother and second guessing every decision you make for your baby. You cry for no reason. The cluster feeding especially, was isolating, at least for me. I spent three months planted on a sofa every evening for six hours nursing my baby. With everything else going on, and your hormones out of whack, listening to people tell you how to ‘bounce back’ or even looking at yourself in a mirror can be hard, to say the least.
So when I was first asked by Mishayl, of Yummy Mummy Network fame, if I was interested in walking the ramp for Maheen Khan, along with a group of other ‘women of substance’, I was blown away. I agreed to meet and found myself trying on her beautiful clothes. She picked a bright green sari for me with a long, flowy top, an outfit I wouldn’t have even tried on given my postpartum mood. Maheen Khan featured women, not only of all sizes and shapes but also of different ages, ranging from women in their early twenties to women in their late forties. What all of them had in common was that they were fierce, independent, confident and inspiring. Maheen wanted to truly embrace the concept, not in a superficial way, like designers sometimes do, but in an authentic and truly meaningful way. “Be yourselves,” she told us. “Choose your own shoes, bags and make up, and if you wouldn’t pose like that in life, don’t do it on the ramp. Just be comfortable!”
On the day, just before walking down the ramp, my hands were trembling and my heart felt like it was going to explode, but when it was my turn, I walked out and instantly felt like a model! I felt confident and beautiful, but most importantly I had so much fun! I was on a high for days afterwards. Even now, I feel a sense of renewed confidence and gratitude. This experience has made me realise that it’s all a state of mind. If your self worth is tied to your appearance, it’s a recipe for madness. From now on, even if I ever slip, I will make a conscious effort to love my body. After all, it was able to make Anya, the greatest love of my life.