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Sudani from Nigeria – The Essence
April 11, 2018

Chronicles of a Short – Petite Woman

If you are someone whose met me, you would have probably guessed this particular piece is about me. To those who don’t know me…I’m a woman who stands 5 ft tall ( yes, pretty short I know for normal standards but I like to see it as tall enough, if you know what I mean ) and I’m also someone who is petite, I have a considerably small frame and if I dress in a school uniform I can possibly pass for a high school student.

Though I’ve always mulled it over in my head, never’ve I really thought of writing about my struggles dealing with my petite frame ( I love my body just the way it is now but then, I figured there are probably women out there, who are insecure about being petite just the way I was initially ) I’ve seen tonnes of positive posts on social media and in society in general to embrace one’s body as it is. Not to be embarrased about putting on weight after having kids. I can totally relate to it because I’ve worked on embracing my body structure which is on the other side of the spectrum. Probably short petite women are not many in number but yes, we do exist and I hardly ever see our side of the story being told.

The thing is, when a petite woman, especially one like me…remotely addresses our struggles, we are immediately shot down by our friends and family, especially by the woman in our immediate circle. They often say ” shut up,  you hardly put on any weight ! or you don’t look like you’ve had a baby )

It’ll be hard to believe but I’ve been the exact same size I’m now since 6th grade. At that point I felt a bit tall and awkward because most of my classmates were shorter than me. Then my physical growth froze. I’ve not grown a centimetre since. Puberty set in amongst us teenagers somewhere around that time and people around me both boys and girls alike just shot up and blossomed. I just kept getting smaller compared to my peers and people in general.

I’ve never been a huge foodie. I never over ate/eat. My tummy is easily full, there have been instances when I’ve been served my favourite food and I’ve wanted to hog but simply couldn’t because I felt full. An acquired food control from childhood one would say but that’s not true…my body just rejects excess food even if I want it. I wary between the range of 45 to 47 kgs. I’ve never been on a diet ( but yes, I mostly do eat healthy, which is probably why I never really put on weight ). However by Indian standards, I’m thin and not voluptuous enough. I’ve literally had relatives stock my fridge with all sorts of delicacies & desserts to make me eat it an put on weight.

This is the way I’ve been all my life except for the time I was pregnant. I put on the necessary 10 kgs for my frame which I shed within 4-5 months post delivery ( I lost 5 kgs like most woman immedately after delivery ) I could probably shed the rest so fast because I used to walk roughly 2 kms everyday while pregnant ( I love walking ) from the minute my doc gave me the green signal to exercise ( after my 1st trimester ) I used to climb flights of stairs. To sum it up, I was a pretty active pregnant woman. I’m pretty sure you must have already thought in your mind what I’m whining about when this looks like a great place to be physically. Never overweight and no struggle to lose weight. But I urge you to read on…

I was also a woman who was scared out of her wits because people kept suggesting I might not be able to have a normal delivery because of my petite frame. There were often innuendoes that my body would not produce sufficient milk because I apparently didn’t look “pregnant enough” apart from a growing tummy. There were even hints dropped that I might deliver prematurely. So yeah, no matter how comfortable you are in your skin there are always people around you to make you feel insecure.

It’s not just during my pregnancy that I had to struggle with my body type. I started working pretty young with a leading MNC ( was just 19 and a working college student ) and I looked like a school kid. The minute people see me, they presume I’m a child who is lost and has wandered unknowingly into the corporate world. They never see me as woman who is ambitious, has her own set of ethics and goals. I was always amused when I walked in for an interview. Most often, I’m written off the minute they see me and I’ve had to always up my game to be taken seriously. If I’m already seated for the interview and the person interviewing gets an idea of my height only while we exit the room, there is always that look of surprise. There is always that flicker of doubt that crosses their face, if this body is indeed going to be capable enough to do the job & handle the pressure. I prefer the latter because I try to find solace in the fact that I was not being judged based on my body type while the interview was on. ( Thankfully I was always hired and managed to nail interviews before I decided to quit my job…the challenges one faces to resume their career after talking a sabbatical to raise a family is a different story altogether which I shall address soon ).

Frankly speaking, no one has ever taken me seriously till I’ve started performing and bringing in results. I was always considered this delicate darling which I’m most certainly not. Yes, I did climb the career ladder at a brisk pace but I’ve had to work twice as hard to be heard, to be acknowledged ( I kid you not, during my career I’ve burdened myself with tasks that were never mine in the first place to begin with, just to prove that I was just as capable as anybody else or even better, though I might not look like it ) Being a woman in itself is hard in the corporate jungle and it’s even worse when you are tiny. The joke that I’ve heard the most is “we’ve seen your car pass by without a driver”. I love to laugh at myself and always took it in the stride because I never really cared much what people thought when they saw me. I know my body houses a never die spirit and a soul with immense capacity to love and care for people. But this was not always the case. I learnt to love my body overtime. I come from a family of reasonably tall people. Most of my friends are tall. Infact I don’t come across many people who are shorter than me. So there was always a niggling feeling of being looked down upon ( literally !! )

As a teenager it dawned on me quite early that I’m never going to look like a model with seemingly  endless legs. But the ever optimistic that I am…I made a list of pros being petite endows me with. And I felt on top of the world once I had compiled it ( It’s pretty amazing I tell you ! ) But I would be lying if I tell, I had absolutely no doubts what so ever that my body will be able to carry my child and safely deliver it, nourish & nurture it subsequently. The first pregnancy is a time when a woman is probably the most vulnerable. There is so much going on physically and emotionally. No matter how strong you are…somethings get to you. Though I calmed myself and a voice from within kept telling me I could do it just the way I wanted because I working hard towards it like I always do ( as I mentioned earlier…I walked, I climbed, I did squats like a possessed woman ) inspite of all this, there was also a lingering fear that I could not quite shake off if I would indeed be able to do it. Bring my child safely into this world.

However with God’s grace I did everything I was told I wouldn’t be able to do…I carried my baby to full term (she was 3 days overdue – basically 40 weeks & 3 days ). Though it was incredibly hard and I endured an extremely long labour, I managed to have a normal delivery and thankfully I had plenty of milk to nurse my baby though I most certainly didn’t eat for two while pregnant ( bdw I’m still breast feeding my daughter at night, so there you go ! )

Basically it boils down to this…you might not find clothes you love in your size or they might never fit you snuggly.  ( I pretty much have to alter every thing I buy because there are simply not enough things in the market for short – petite woman, maternity wear was a distant dream for me ). Men might not find you desirable enough or people might not take you seriously because you look a certain way. You’ll be judged no matter how you are…tall, short, huge, thin, curvy, petite…the tags are endless. The key is not to be hard on yourself because you don’t meet someone else’s expectation.

You are already a winner the minute you start loving your body and appreciate every single thing it does inspite of not being the perfect shape that media sells. More over it’s your spirit that counts. Even if you don’t tick the aesthetic beauty box, you most certainly can work on the kind of person you are. That’s truly where the beauty lies. Be you, love yourself with every little cell in your body. You are amazing just the way you are.

P.S : If you are a petite woman / you know a petite woman, you can download a cute little poster here –> Perks of being a short petite woman – Poster

So how do I describe myself ? I'm Greeshma, currently a homemaker and mum to a lovely two year old girl...Someone whose always been passionate about writing, scribbling away in pieces of paper or making notes in my mind vowing to jot down every single line as soon as I get "time"...So this is me, making an attempt to follow my passion while juggling my baby girl, husband, family and household chores. Do join my journey and wish me luck as I let you dig into my little trove of dreams, musings and life as you know it...


  1. Naeema Hussain says:

    Great message. Really liked the insights on how you feel being You in the different phases of Your life. It is a dure shot spirit-raiser for the other petite people out there.

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