FINDINGS: Press Clippings

I needed to fill out some paper work before I left India and so Vinayagam, my late father’s man Friday, asked me to look in Daddykins’ almirah for two passport photographs of mine. I found everything but the photos. 

I found a newspaper clipping titled “How healthy are you?” that Daddykins had cut out to show his two daughters on their next visit. When he wrote to us, he often enclosed concert reviews, health columns and humor pieces that he had enjoyed in The Hindu. In this health article he had stashed away, the author—a nutritionist and food writer—had advised readers to do the following test. 

“Stand upright and look down. You should be able to see your toes without turning your head or bending forward.” The author had claimed that many test-takers would not pass it. Daddykins had marked the lines and made a note on the side: “I could just about manage.” 

In the middle of the piece, Daddykins had said, “Daughters, please note.” He had initialed it. This marking was for the Waist-Hip Ratio that was computed as Waist Measurement divided by Hip Measurement (all in centimeters). A Waist-Hip Ratio of less than 0.9 was considered healthiest for men; for women, the value “should not exceed 0.8,” the author had said.

Further down in the piece, my father had made another note: “Important for KM—those are my initials—to note.” And of course he had initialed it as if it were a document to be presented at the passport office. The paragraph went thus: “It is important for young girls to know that being extremely skinny and anorexic is unhealthy. In the process of evolving into a woman, female hormones give girls the curves that suggest their readiness for childbearing in the future. So a degree of plumpness is desirable and any attempt to alter it unnaturally could be very harmful indeed. Provided, of course, the limits specified by both the BMI and Waist-Hip Ratio are not exceeded.”

The article was dated March 2001 when I stood 5’ 2” tall and weighed about 125 pounds. I was a married woman. I was a mother of two children. I was on the other side of 40. Oh yes, you could describe me as many things. "Extremely skinny" and “anorexic" was not one of them.