I realized that I haven’t really taken the time share my story. After all, I started this blog to connect with the world, and if my story can connect and help just one person, it would be incredible. It has been a week since I started my blog, and I think it is time to get personal. There are so many things I want to share with ya’ll, but let’s start with one issue that has just surfaced again for me.
Today I was insecure.
Insecurity is something that I have been struggling with my whole life, and it is still ongoing. I realized there are many different types of insecurity that I am dealing with. Today, I would like to share with you about my insecurities with my body.
Thinking back, I don’t even remember when I started to care about my appearance. All I know is that I gradually started to notice the stick-thin or perfect-bodied women around me and began to wish I looked more like them. Actually, I think it started in high school, in 9th grade, where we had swimming lessons during PE. I always always wore board shorts with my one-piece arena swimsuit because I thought my thighs looked hideous and I wanted to hide my already-developing beer belly.
I would catch myself walking in the reflection of a shop window and start mentally criticizing the way I was walking. Why is my posture slanted at a 5 degree angle? Why is my butt jutting out so much? I try to keep my back as straight as possible, but why do I always go back to being slanted? I don’t slouch- I condemn slouching, but why do I look like I have such a weird posture?
I would sit down at a table, look down, and see my thighs touching each other. I am so fixated with them. It’s like my left thigh is a fat kid and my right thigh is a double chocolate cake and he can’t keep his hands off the cake. I try to sit with only my toes touching the floor so that my thighs are elevated off the flat surface and let gravity do its work, but then my legs will start to shake because even my own toes cannot hold up the weight of my legs. I always envision slicing off the unnecessary fat so that my thighs would not overflow my shorts when I sit down.
I would sit down in class, and the first thing I do is pull my shirt a bit lower or my pants a bit higher to hide my protruding belly. It has become a habit to suck my belly in and pull up my pants or shorts in order to tuck my insecurity even deeper down. I wake up in the morning and look at myself in the mirror. I think to myself: if my tummy can stay this flat throughout the entire day, I will be happier. But at night when I come home, no matter how little I eat, my belly will triple in size and I will look like I am 13 weeks pregnant. Literally. No joke.
It’s funny that I am writing about this, because on any given day, if you saw me walking on the streets, you would not think that I am one of those girls who cares about what she looks like. I’d wear short shorts and a loose tank top when it’s hot; fitting jeans an oversized shirt when it’s cold. You see, after so many years of figuring out and understanding what I dislike about my body, I have found out exactly what kind of clothes will hide all the ugliness, and in my mind, will look ‘good’ on me. These are the clothes that I feel comfortable for the world to see me in. But when I take them all off, and stare in the mirror (which I don’t do for long because I will start feeling uncomfortable) the insecurities come creeping back.
The confidence that I exude on the streets or at the beach? I feel only 20% of what you see. The other 80%, where I am criticizing myself and questioning myself, come up when somebody points it out, looks at me for more than 10 seconds, or touches me at places that I don’t feel comfortable being touched, especially my belly or my arms.
However, as much as I dislike my body and as much as I wish I could look like these sexy ladies, I need to start accepting my body for the way it is. I know I’m not doing too bad when every time I see my dad after a few months or every time I see a relative after a year or every time we go back to college from summer vacation, I am being asked “have you lost weight?” Honestly, if I felt like I actually lost 1 pound every time somebody said that to me, or if the numbers actually reflected on the scale, I would really look like her (okay not really because I am nowhere near her height, thus I do not have those lengthy legs and long upper torso, but you get what I mean).
Since after graduating high school, I started to care less about what people thought of me. Or at least I tried. It was definitely hard at first. When I would wear a bikini (I know I focus on bikini’s a lot, but I think that is the only way I can feel truly comfortable with myself- if I can feel comfortable with two pieces of scrap covering my essentials, then I should feel like a queen with my every-day clothes), I would hear the ticks again “do your thighs look fat? Can they see your muffin top? What about your beer belly?” But slowly, I would try and push these thoughts away. I think my biggest feat was to stop wearing makeup. I used to think eyeliner made me look good. I couldn’t go a day in high school without wearing makeup, otherwise I would feel uncomfortable in my own skin. But since I’ve gone to college, I’ve stopped wearing makeup completely. Sure, sometimes when I want to look like I actually give a shit about my appearance, I’d wear some liquid eyeshadow and mascara; but otherwise I will think to myself “if I don’t care about I look like, then why should other people?” Maybe this is not the healthiest way to tell myself that I look perfect the way I am, but it’s a start. Okay don’t take it the wrong way- I haven’t turned into some hobo who doesn’t shower or wash her face or brush her hair in the morning; I am just someone who takes a maximum of 30 minutes to get ready for a class because that is how long I take to look fresh and presentable. But just a note to all the women out there who wear makeup daily- you look just as beautiful without it.
As I am writing this, I am asking myself- why am I even wasting my time dwelling on all the shit parts of my body? If this is the body that I am stuck with for the rest of my life, why not start accepting it and embracing it? I think the biggest challenge that we all have to overcome is giving ourselves the approval to be happy with what we have. This is why ever since I graduated high school, I started to wear bikini’s without the board shorts. I think this was when I really started to try and become comfortable with my body. It was extremely hard- I remember I went on my senior trip to Langkawi in 2009 with these two beautiful girls who have perfect bodies- how I wish I looked like them (I sucked in for so many pictures). But what made it easier was knowing that they were very close friends of mine, and friends do not judge. At first, I would always seek for approval in my friends’ faces, to see whether there is a trace of disgust after they see me take off my shirt and I am in my bikini, or when I am wearing that winterformal or prom dress. But as time passes by, I realize that the approval that I am seeking from others is really from myself. Because honestly, my friends have been approving me and of what I wear the whole time with the compliments they give me or the likes I get on Facebook- I just chose to overlook this simple, but grand gesture.
Honest to God- I should be way overweight with the amount of food I eat and the lack of exercise I don’t do in college. It sucks when you can actually feel your tummy looking 20 weeks pregnant, but my body is pretty awesome at making that disappear within a week of me cutting down my calorie intake and starting to exercise again. So I love you body, for having such great metabolism. I still have to ask why my thighs can’t keep their hands off each other, but I will let it go… For now. My point is, after a very very very long post- we all need to start accepting ourselves for who we are. We have been given this beautiful and intricate structure from our mothers and fathers. There. That’s already two approvals that you will have for your entire life.
But do me a favor. Next time you finish taking a shower, don’t be in such a hurry to dress up. Take your time. Look in the mirror. Look at every outline of your body; every curve. Appreciate how this body is what makes you possible. This body is what makes you, you. If you are unhappy with your body, do something about it. But if you are like me, who has tried to change but somehow knew deep inside that this is what you will always look like, then you gotta start noticing the comments you get from your friends. You have got to start appreciating how good this shirt looks on you, or how great those shorts frame your ass. Trust me, this does not happen over-night; it is an ongoing process. I will be there with you every step of the way. But when you are ready, when you are ready to take that first step and start loving every inch of your body, go ahead and give yourself the nod of approval.
And just to take it one step further and go out of my comfort zone, here is a picture that I took in Seychelles last month. One that I have not uploaded on Facebook because I felt very insecure about this picture. But here it is. Me in a bikini. Lovely~