‘Oversized’ taunts groomed International Powerlifter

Sanjeev K. Sharma
Can the taunts to make fun of a person push him/her to success? Perhaps yes! And, here is a case where a girl was taunted a lot, from her childhood to young age, for being obese but she took all such taunts as a challenge and worked hard to reply the society back with the coin of success, which she achieved after representing India at an international sports event in Japan that fetched her eighth rank making her a sportsperson of international repute.
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Today this hardworking sportsperson-Upasana Mahajan, 32, is much satisfied with his life. Presently she also works as Academic Specialist in BYJUS and language teacher in one of the reputed schools of Jammu but she proudly flaunts her identity as an International Powerlifter.
Upasana, who graduated in ECE Engineering and holds MBA degree was felicitated with Alumni award by her Alma Mater Lovely Professional University.
In an exclusive interaction with the Excelsior, she informed that so far she has played more than 13 tournaments including a world championship in Japan in the year 2019.
She revealed that life was not a bed of roses for her.
Narrating her past, Upasana said: “I was bullied a lot in my childhood for being oversized. Neither there were friends in schools nor peers at college to support and understand me. Even there was no acceptance for me at many other places which left me to look for options to stay as a part of the crowd so as to avoid feeling of being left alone.”
The Powerlifter informed that things started changing for her after she joined a gymnasium where she talked her heart out with colleagues and narrated her struggles of life.
“I became a Powerlifter which gave me some purpose in life and when I saw that some people around are facing the same issue everywhere, I realized that the same had not happened exclusively to me,” she maintained.
Upasana claimed that people have a very narrow definition of beauty and sizes due to which strange things happen unfairly to all the people around with whatever size, colour or shape they are in and this is all due to immature mindset of the society which takes one on the basis of face value and physical appearance.
“Start of my gym life triggered a change in me and I started retaliating odd and unexpected activities targeting my physical being. I also started talking about the same to motivate the people like me and whenever I get some message that because of me someone has started living again or someone is looking up to me for motivation, I feel, it served the purpose that I was born for and this made my life easier and more purposeful,” she continued adding: “It doesn’t mean that the struggle is over as everyday there is a new fight now.”
Elated over her achievements, Upasana still remembers that she was felicitated by J&K Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha on Republic Day; ADGP Mukesh Singh on Women’s Day besides felicitations from Tourism Department and All India Radio.
Still old memories haunt her and she claimed: “I was always fascinated with amazing fashions and colourful clothes around but was restricted to wear them by the so called fashion inspectors.”
She said that she loves dancing, travelling and socialising and doesn’t prefer monotonous life and always looks forward to learn new things and skills which can add up to her existing personality to make it better with passing time.
“I believe in ‘live and let live’ ideology. However, it seems so much to demand this from people around. I love to talk about body positivity and mental health on live platforms and social media which is reflected on my social media accounts,” Upasana further said.
“You aren’t fat. You have fat. You have fingernails also, doesn’t mean you are merely a fingernail. That’s what body positivity means to me. You need to love yourself and serve the purpose you are here for, not just hating your existence everyday just because of those numbers on the weight scale or inch tapes. People have a very narrow definition of beauty and sizes,” she further said.
When asked if she face any sort of trolling, Upasana replied: “Oh yes! Right from my childhood to even this day, I continue to face not only trolls but bullies also.”
She further said that over a period of time she saw changed perceptions of the society and surprisingly it started from her own family.
“Society isn’t any more uncomfortable with my western dress preference and it has now started supporting me for my bold and confident stand against its inhuman side of body shaming,” she said cautioning: “Don’t play with your health and being obese attracts health issues also.”
“So instead of making milestones for me to lose weight, to wear specific dresses and to do specific jobs, they (society) now encourage me for better lifestyle changes as obesity is a lifestyle disorder and can be made fine,” the Powerlifter said adding: “People are supportive now and I can see change in this generation as well. My school mates, college mates and peers are also talking good to me. They are supporting me in every thick and thin now. I feel when I have stood for myself I have seen world standing for me as well.”