Based on the title, I think it's obvious what this post is all about. But just in case you haven't picked the pieces up, this post will be all about body image. My body image issues which is something I've been struggling with for years. As I'm typing this post, I'm still facing the same problem although not as intense as it used to be.
Like most people, I experienced body shaming ever since I was a child. I started out as a chubby child before that chubbiness turned me into a swollen walking marshmallow by the side of a nonexistent bonfire. In grade school, I weighed around 60 kg and I couldn't wear clothing items below size L or XL. I ate a lot, three times a day (sometimes more) even though three times a day is what people generally considered normal on a day to day basis. I was overweight, wore so many baggy clothing and couldn't even wear skirt no matter how much I wanted to because I was insecure and I thought I looked like a pig who'd never fit in adorable clothes.
I don't want to sound like I'm generalizing or stereotyping the mindset of an Asian family but hey, stereotypes exist because facts exist. Being born Asian and surrounded by conservative, narrow-minded adults, I was fed with the thoughts that unless I have a smooth, clear and pale skin, tall figure and skinny waist, I am not pretty enough to be a Chinese girl. Growing up, I was pressured by family members and relatives telling me to own my cousin's figure. They compared my body to hers, told me how I should learn to dress up like her because she's taller, paler, skinnier and of course, a lot prettier than I could ever be. I didn't fit into any of the criteria, their criteria.
In school, boys were jocks and douches. I was a potential target for verbal bullying because boys think it's okay to body shame girls and call us names just because we're not a bunch of walking stick figures. I protected myself by becoming their friend (not like a friend 'friend' who'd hang out with them but you know what I mean) thus saving me from being a target. A classmate, however, was verbally bullied because she was a tad bigger than I was. They called her bulldozer.
Similarly, I remember hearing a family member talked about how intelligence can be measured by the size of your figure. I was told that when a person is heavy, he or she will be slower both physically and mentally. Physically, maybe but mentally? That's like saying how a chubby person is, without a doubt, a whole lot stupider than someone who is stick thin. It's insane and absurd and I wish I could have said that out loud. I didn't, though. I let them planted those ideas inside my head and now they're growing like parasites eating me from inside out.
A year before college started, I began skipping meals because my only goal was to lose weight. I'd only ate once per day and I'd binge on caffeine to suppress my hunger. I forbade myself to touch the food I craved even if it's for a cheat meal. I didn't allow myself any cheat meal. I touched no ice cream, no junk food, no noddles or pizza. I grew scared of most food, especially those that I used to enjoy. I didn't eat beef and I didn't touched rice. I had this fear that the moment I ate any of those "forbidden food", I'd gain 1 kg and it would freaked me out. There was never a cheat day and I restricted myself like I was a prisoner. I grew obsessed with counting calories. Even though it might seem like I was just taking care of myself, I wasn't. I was setting boundaries to prevent myself from letting loose. It was an unhealthy obsession to lose weight and I wasn't doing it properly. I remember beating myself up when I ate ice cream after two months of not having any. I remember running to the bathroom, stuck a toothbrush down my throat and forced myself to throw up. It never worked though and I end up sobbing because I felt fat and ugly and hideous.
By the time I started college, I had lost more than 10 kilograms. I was no longer an overweight, 60-kg walking marshmallow. It made me happy even though the process messed me up so bad. Even though I was 50 kg by the time I started my first day of college, I wasn't satisfied. I still forced myself the way I did; instead of eating once per day, I limit myself to eating only twice per day. I also continued to binge on caffeine to suppress my hunger and I was still counting calories obsessively. I wanted to reach my "ideal weight" which was 43 kg.
In the beginning, when my family and relatives saw how I was no longer "fat and ugly", they were so happy about it. They praised me and acknowledging me. It was fucked up and thinking about that now makes me sick. It makes me sick because I need their smiling faces and praises to make me feel comfortable in my own skin. It makes me sick how I needed their approval when this is my body to begin with. It makes me sick how they never realized that their words were — are — double ended blades. What's worse was how I realized I've turned into this highly sensitive, extremely grumpy person whenever someone brought up the old me. My mom would say something like, "wow you fit XS-sized shirt now" and I'd be pissed and said, "I know I was fat and ugly, okay. You don't have to remind me every day!"
Fast forward to present day, I now weigh around 48-50 kg. I no longer imprison myself and have stopped obsessively counting calories. I no longer stay away from certain food and allow myself to enjoy junk food once in a while. As good as that sounds, I have to admit that I am still struggling with my size. For example, earlier today when I weighed myself and saw where the scale landed, I felt gross. I can feel the old parasite crawling beneath my skin, telling me to go back to my old, toxic routine. Despite my friends and boyfriend telling me that I am not fat, I can't help but to freak out about my weight, size and figure. I just feel like I need to be thinner. Yes, it's messed up and yes it sounds like I'm letting society controls me but it's undeniable, how infectiously contagious the bad seed they have planted in my mind is.
I don't think anyone who have seen or known me ever noticed this. Nobody could picture me as one of the many girls in this world who'd run into the bathroom after meal just to stick a finger or toothbrush down her (or their) throat. I never carried that impression and it's so easy to trick them by saying, "I'm just not hungry" and they'd believe every word I said — or say.
For the mean time, I think I'll just be thankful for a boyfriend who gives a damn about my health, reminding me to eat so I won't get sick. I do still hope that one day, I'd be able to tell myself that it's okay to eat a whole tub of ice cream on Friday night if I want to and actually believe that it's okay.
this post was written and published for sharing purposes. the main point of this post is to remind you that everybody experienced this kind of bullshit at some point in their live and it's also for me to vent so please do not come at me with lectures such as "stop whining, you should have gone to the gym!" because the gym is not for everybody. if you like working out in the gym, good for you but it's just not for me due to a few reasons.