I'll be straight about it - I have body image issues. I think every woman does - or at least I like to think so. I've [and heaps of other people!] shared my story on being a dark skinned girl in a society that worships everything that's fair, hawks whitening beauty products like it's the next best thing to crack. So now it's time to talk about the body.
LET'S START WITH ME: I am a 1.72m tall, twentysomething, Size US 8 - 10
In the US, I'm average-sized, in Singapore [and the fashion industry], I'm plus-sized. FUCK YOU. I hate the term plus-sized. PLUS WHAT?! I work out more than the average Singaporean does, and my annual body assessments at my GP tells me I'm perfectly healthy - kickass cholesterol levels, great blood work, fanfuckingfabulous blood pressure levels. I'm healthy.
I do think my body issues have to do with how I was brought up - until today, body-related issues [sex, amongst it], is almost taboo in the house. I've always been too big and too tall, so my mother dressed me in oversized clothes because she believed it would "hide" my obesity. [And a lot of people still do believe that! But dressing for your body is another topic for another time]. Not that my mother is to blame, of course. She raised me the best way she knew how.
Singaporeans schools didn't help of course. If your BMI was above the "Asian average", you'd have to be shamed and skip recess for the TAF Club [an acronym for the Trim And Fit Club] where you'd have to run. Didn't these people know skipping meals is bad for you? Besides, I still was a perfectly healthy child - I repped my school at netball tournaments, I sufficiently passed NAPFA tests.
WHERE IT CHANGED FOR ME.
I've had my share of diet pills, crash dieting, eating disorders, especially when I started working in fashion. When you have skin-and-bones [and occasionally, a boob job-ed] models undressing in front of you, your body image and your ideals of beauty become warped, and fucked beyond belief, particularly when you start working at 17 years old.
It's painful to throw up your meals all the time. It's hurts when you starve yourself for days. It's expensive to keep living on pills. Take it from someone who's done it all - there's an easier way to feel better about the person staring back at you in the mirror.
I started working out. I learnt how to dress my body type. I believed that like love, nobody would think you're beautiful if you don't start believing it yourself.
MY BODY ISSUES NOW.
Yes, I could totally devour less Nutella, and I could afford to work out more, but I'm not as bothered with my body as I used to be.
I've long stopped caring about what society thinks skinny girls should wear and non-skinny girls shouldn't. I have a kickass wardrobe - and I know it. My problem now - is stripping down. Not that I want to in public, but it amazes me how women can do that in the presence of other women, or in general, other people around.
C'mon! It must take a hellova lot of body confidence.
When I was in Saigon a few years ago, I found myself in a spa, where I was made to go into a steam room after the massage. I'm not a fan of enclosed spaces in general, specially so when it's filled with steam, but I didn't know how to tell the nice Vietnamese lady who had just pounded me into a blissful pulp of oblivion for eight bucks that I didn't want to go into the steam room.
So I entered the steam room with a towel wrapped around me - and there they were, at least a dozen butt-naked Vietnamese women in front of me in various positions with their boobies and their bushes out on display. I sat my towel-wrapped self quietly in the corner, trying hard not to look anywhere but my toes. And then, one by one, the women started covering themselves - which I found terribly amusing.
The same thing happened in the Club Med Yabuli sauna room I was in with the journos that went on the trip with me - we were all in our bathers when a woman outside the sauna room, stripped all the way down, whilst talking to her friend about dinner. I found myself wondering how her friend could carry out a conversation about squid ink pasta with that much hair down there staring at 'em.
Now, tell me, what are the body issues that you face?
How have you tackled them, if you have?
SHAKE UP YOUR BODY IMAGE, PRONTO!
If you don't like what you see in the mirror, sitting on your ass complaining about it won't do a thing. Here's some ways to shake up your body image:
- Get off your ass Simple isn't it? Get off your ass and DO SOMETHING. Housework, run, walk to the mall, hit the gym! While it's a pain in the ass to drag myself to the gym after a long day at work, it's very rewarding when you come out of it. Besides, it's the one time of the day I have to my thoughts [and my music!].
- Watch what you eat This one is hardest for me. My brother tells me that losing weight is 70% diet, and 30% exercise, so no matter how much you work out, if you're eating shit, nothing's going to happen. Plan your meals a day in advance, believe in breakfast, and don't skip meals!
- Stop thinking Fat = Ugly!
- Stay away from bad company Whether it's friends who also have body image issues, or friends with eating disorders, or worse, people who tell you you're ugly and you're unworthy. WELL FUCK THEM. They're not worthy of you. Get rid of these assfucks. You can find better friends on the street.
- Learn to play up your best features. Whether it's your sculpted shoulders, or your shiny head of hair - play up your best parts. Nobody will even begin to notice the parts you're not so fond of.
P.S.: I am NOT naked in the first photo above by the way, in case you were wondering. ;o)