How does our society picture a beautiful girl? She has to be physically pleasing. That is the ultimate benchmark. Even today, almost 99% of the matrimonial ads seek for fair, slim and good-looking as their priority when it comes to listing down parameters of a potential bride. And then follows the variety in analogues. Body shaming is so prevalent that people specially spice out trolls without even second thoughts. The parents are not enough to make daughters realize about their misfits, they also need to be prepared for unwelcome doses from nosy, insipid and vexing neighbors. Why is it so difficult for people to understand that every human body has a different metabolism rate plus, there is also a factor called DNA, which is highly responsible for our physical traits.
Shuchi Singh Kalra, famous for her witty novella “Done with Men” comes up with the strong and rather sensitive topic of body shaming and it’s consequences in her second published, “I am big. So what!?” I am glad Shuchi chose to write on this topic. The book revolves around Roli and her dealings with the otherwise stubborn body weight that refuses to reduce even by milligrams. She unwillingly nods in positive for arrange marriage after her boyfriend Ronit makes an unexplained exit from her life and now, she is on to meet suitor no. 7. However, suitor no. 7 (Kabir) has an uncanny resemblance with someone from past that Roli simply fails to recall. And when she does, her world turns topsy turvy.
The story starts somewhere in the middle and thereafter goes back and forth. The narration is in first person. Through Roli’s journey, one can easily relate to the plight of children who are bullied due to their body weight in every phase of their life, school being the starting point. The impact that such bullies make on the child’s psychology and also throughout his/her growing years has been represented aptly by the author. I absolutely loved the “Buddha Moments” that Roli experiences which leads to change her mindset and get out of the self-sympathizing zone. The book serves as an eye-opener for people who need a larger dose to be able to carry that I-give-a-damn attitude. Shuchi also succeeds in giving a smack to Indian society and body-shamers with her spunk.
Roli, the protagonist, is very strong and Shuchi has done 100% justice with the character. She is independent and highly talented freelance graphic designer earning much higher than what people think. She loves dressing up. She loves to put on make-up. She is aware of her body and her sartorial choices are very wise. What if she is obese? Roli simply doesn’t care. Roli wears LBDs with great finesse. She has learnt to be happy with herself and the way she is. She is witty, she is determined and her persona oozes confidence. She teaches you that you need to take charge of yourself and your destiny because no-one else is doing that for you. You need to love yourself if nobody else cared to.
The equation that Roli shares with her father, her hidden desire that her father would, someday understand her agony and every bit of Roli’s recollection of her father’s comments each time she came up to him with high hopes of support is overwhelming. The father- daughter relationship has been depicted with great care and one can relate to the emotional upheaval that a little daughter might be going through in attempt to gain her father’s love and credence.
Roli’s mother is like every other Indian mother, who loves her daughters but is equally worried about Roli’s single status due to her obesity. She leaves no stones unturned when it comes to convincing Roli for meeting her suitors hoping to find a potential son-in-law each time.
The bonding between Roli and her younger sister, Rinky, is not hyped. Shuchi has kept this relationship very real and relatable. The sibling rivalry inside Roli’s head due to extra attention her father showers upon her sister is no curveball. I am sure each one of us might have gone through such emotions at some point in life. Yet, how siblings share smallest of their secrets with each other and how they would fight for each other’s happiness is pretty much evident and adorable in the book.
Monika is the best friend everyone would die to have. I wish the character should have been carved out to be bit more strong. I loved her though. She is that 4:00 AM friend that I could give up anything for. I loved the fact that Monika was the one to call off her own wedding and grow as a confident person towards the end of the book.
Kabir is the cute guy next door and any girl would love to have a partner like him. His dedication to win Roli’s heart is complete fairytale like. He is like one of those macho heroes right out of the Mills and Boons love stories. Too good to be true but whom, every girl would fall for.
Overall, I loved reading the book throughout. The best thing about the book is the rapid flow of the story and lucidity of the language that Shuchi has maintained. There are many occasions where you would have your laugh-out-loud moments like- when Roli describes about her encounters with the suitors and her comments each time “Orange Aunty” pays visit with a new rishta.
Quotes From The Author: Emotional, Quirky and Witty
Love does not leave place for parameters
And that I could not afford love because well, I was not beautiful in a way society wanted me to be
Oh dear! The problems of rich and famous
My awe lasted less than 3 seconds after which I could only see him as a walking designer hoarding with a distinct Haryanvi accent
He was so regular- looking that he almost looked familiar
Shuchi sums up the book with a beautiful poem. I am placing couple of verses from the poem here:
You were not born to fit into templates,
Neither were you meant to toe the lines.
You are unique in the way you are;
Your beauty is beyond confines.
Look in the mirror, what do you see?
Blow yourself a kiss, tell yourself this-
I’m not perfect, but I’m fabulous
Because there is no one else quite like me!
My take – 4 / 5
Buy the book from Amazon
Last but not at all the least, I apologise for the delay in writing this review. I was supposed to complete it 2 weeks back but could not do so due to my unplanned travel schedules. I hope Shuchi would buy my excuse. 😉
About the author – Shuchi Singh Kalra is a writer, editor and blogger based in India. She writes for publications and businesses. Also runs a writing firm called Pixie Dust Writing Studio. Her first book, Done With Men, featured on the Amazon bestseller lists for 2 consecutive years. Find out more about Shuchi at www.shuchikalra.com. Connect with her on Twitter @shuchikalra.
[I received a free review copy from the author in exchange for an honest review]
I would love to read your thoughts on this, please leave your comments below and share if you enjoyed have the read.