My Instagram was full of fitness posts even before the quarantine, but since the lockdown, I see more posts about workout sessions at home. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with keeping fit, or even working about because you want to achieve a particular body goal you set up for yourself. But working out for me is an extremely sore subject.
Pedestrian At Best
Despite what most people would say or think, I struggle with appreciating any part of myself. And before anyone rolls their eyes, or scoffs, I wanted to talk about it solely because it has always been something most would brush off.
Here’s the thing, I’ve always been a skinny person, even as an infant. That didn’t bother me back then because hey, I’m a chill baby. I only cried about more pressing issues like a poopy diaper, or just any other thing. Crying was my favourite thing to do, you can ask anyone in the family, and they’ll never stop talking about it. But I was a happily active child, and I took that with me when I joined school too.
I did everything from sports, yoga(we had to), dance, and even was a part of the school band. And it showed. However, the first time I had anyone comment on my body was a volleyball coach the school hired. Keep in mind, I was a skinny kid who weighed 45kgs (99.208 pounds), and on day 1 of our ‘Volleyball Boot Camp’, I was told to do some extra crunches because my tummy wasn’t exactly flat.
This incident didn’t affect my adolescent mind back then, but it brought down my confidence and has resumed to alter it as I’ve gotten older. Skinny shaming wasn’t a concept I was familiar with back then, but I did come across some of it later on. However, this post wasn’t a way for me to grab your attention, or have you pity me. I wanted to write about this because it is an uncomfortable conversation that we’ve been avoiding for far too long.
Another incident that comes to mind was that when I was in the school band, I had a skirt maybe an inch or two shorter than the other girls because my professor thought it would look better on a skinny girl. Is it a weird thing to say regarding a 15-year-old? Mayhaps. Was I weirded out by it? Absolutely.
While it didn’t help that I was a self-professed tomboy either, it just helped people shove me into that particular box further. I was either teased about my lack of pronounced lady parts or my horrible fashion sense, something they still pick apart. I didn’t say or do much back then, all I did was pick unnecessary fights which didn’t help much.
Not only did this make me an extremely insecure kid, but it also made me look at my body differently. But it didn’t push me in the right direction. I kept wearing loose shirts and baggy pants because I felt like if I hid my insecurities, I’d be okay. But I wasn’t.
All About That Bass
As a dancer and athlete, I was very proud of my fast metabolism. Not only could I eat just about anything, but I also didn’t have to work to keep the skinny frame, at least when I was proud of it. But I guess I should’ve done something while I still had it because I was suddenly 18 and I not ‘skinny’ anymore.
It was a gradual change, sure, but I definitely could see each change my body slowly went through. However, I don’t think I heard comments until it was a very visible change for the others to notice. Every time I bumped into an old college friend in the street, they’d comment about how I’d put on a little weight. Some friends were surprised that I could put on any at all. Even my mum pointed out the weight gain, but it didn’t bother me, that is until they wouldn’t stop pointing it out.
Their comments weren’t that bad either, while some were merely stating the weight gain, the others would talk about how my outfit choices weren’t working for my body type. But at least they didn’t have ill intentions, right?
I’m going to say it, I’m not extremely overweight or what most people or society consider chubby, I just probably have a little chub. Or so I thought. However, quite a few people told me exactly how much they thought my body had changed. And it’s not like I didn’t know, I was actively working towards accepting it because I genuinely thought I’d be happier now that I have my ideal body. Right?
It’s amazing how naive the human mind is. I know I have my imperfections and shortcomings, and I try looking for the smallest faults in me. But I also like the fact that I am looking for joy, only to find it in the expected as well as unexpected places. I was wrong about my body making me happier, not only was I miserable, but there was nothing I could do that would make me feel better about it.
This only led to the need of being invisible, I’d hide behind baggy clothes, beanies, and a big fake smile. You know, it’s weird. I never really thought my feelings towards my body could bring my mental health to an all-time low. Add that to how disinterested I seemed with college, and we had a major disaster on our hands.
However, I remember my nan rejoicing with the slight weight gain because I didn’t look like the zombies I delightfully enjoyed watching. Like every grandmother, she had always been on my back about how skinny and thin I was. That helped boost my confidence a little, but I had a feeling this would be short-lived too.
I Can Change
I’ll let you guys in on a secret, I may act all tough, but I’m the biggest softie you’ll come across. And even though I’ve always brushed off people’s opinions, every word has left a huge mark on me. Unfortunately, that meant that even the most unnecessary comment would play in my mind like a broken record.
The most common thing I had a lot of ‘men’ tell me was “You look amazing, now if only you lost that weight you’d look even better.” From being compared to an auntie, to someone who’s just lazy and needs to workout, my self-esteem has really taken a lot. There are people who have truly helped with body positivity for me; friends, family, and more.
Despite all of this, there were times where I thought I should just give in and change. I tried working out more, tried eating less, I even tried and miserably failed to give up junk food; I don’t think I’d ever do that. But in my twisted mind, I thought that if I lose a couple of pounds, maybe I’d be happier again. I now know that wouldn’t be the case, but a girl could dream, and she did.
It didn’t hurt that they were talking about my weight, what hurt was that they were associating my weight to my beauty. Which I’ve noticed quite as much in simple interactions with friends. I’ve had instances where I’ve said “I need to lose weight, I’m fat”, and the natural response would always be “You’re not fat, you’re beautiful”. However, what happens if I don’t feel beautiful? How do I fix that? I soon realised that my focus on happiness was based more on what other people thought of me. And my opinion never mattered, even if it should’ve been the only one that did. It was always more about what they liked and found attractive, and that meant I wasn’t paying attention to what I wanted.
I don’t want to take the cliched route of blaming society, but it has been responsible for creating this idea of what beauty is. From what the ideal body is like, to what is acceptable and what isn’t. And unfortunately, many of us have given in to it.
However, Pride 2020 has been great for me in more ways than one. Not only did I finally realise how happy I would be if I just lived in the moment, but it also did wonders for my confidence. Pride was right around the corner, so a friend of mine helped with my outfit for it, and it brought attention to the one part of my body I was most insecure about, my tummy.
This probably sounds ridiculous, but it has always been a problem area for me. No amount of crunches has ever given me a flat stomach, except that one time around ‘Volleyball Boot Camp’. And that to some extent bothered me, because a flat tummy was so much better than this cookie pouch I had instead.
But my friend thought the outfit would look amazing, so I ended up wearing it anyway, and I couldn’t help but notice how good it looked. While I was initially conscious, as the day went by I didn’t get why I was worried in the first place. You can see I was genuinely happy. And now that I think back to it, all it took was a little support, an outfit that helps bring out my best, and a whole lot of confidence.
I don’t want to say this now, but there was a time I thought my body was disgusting and I needed to hide it away not celebrate it. That isn’t the case now. I’m working on being as confident I was during pride and deflecting all of that trash aka unnecessary opinions. It isn’t going to be an immediate change, I still have days I don’t feel too good about myself, but that is all part of the process.
I know I have been struggling with my body for quite some time, but I want to put all of that aside and be this fierce, confident woman. Don’t get me wrong, I still wear loose clothes, but they’re more for comfort instead of hiding away. And I still have terrible fashion sense, but I’ll eventually work on that as well. All that matters now is that I’m better, I’m healing, and I’m happy.
I wanted to talk about my issues with my body because putting it on here makes it more real, and pushes me to work on these issues in a positive, healthy manner. If you’ve been going through something similar, then I would love to hear your story! If you’ve enjoyed this content, then you can check out more of my work here!