By Ina Lee
I’m in size Medium/UK 10/ US 6. People call me fat my whole life but honestly I don’t care.
Growing up in Hong Kong/Asia, the traditional Asian beauty standard haunted me since I was young. Thin and pale being the beauty standard, I have never been close to it. I am tan, I have thick thighs, belly, big butt and tons of arm fat. Way before all the Instagram models pressure, the social norms and culture already plays a huge part in shaping both the old and young generations’ mindset and development. My relatives call me chubby, my parents call me fat, and strangers certainly don’t think I’m a pretty girl. I remember I tried different ways to lose weight during puberty, I took pills that claimed to be healthy and I starved myself. Oh and I like to wear loose clothes that cover my body. I wanted to look normal.
So what’s the turning point? What made me who I am now?
The first turning point is that being “THICK” is the new sexy now. This trend started few years ago, where having the curve, an ass and thick thighs are a bombshell now. I started receiving messages complimenting me being thick. “Thanks” to instagram, audience are loving the girls’ thick/slim thick bodies, and my not-so-fat body happens to be categorised into this group.
But of course, how others see you does not determine your worth.
The second turning point comes from myself. Learning from all the strong, powerful and inspiring women in the world, my girl Rihanna, Beyonce, as well as from women studies at school. I look into the root of the fat shaming cause, how the male gaze society works (presents women as sexual objects for the pleasure of the male viewer) and feminist theories. I dive deep into the studies, history, and literature for the why and how. All these add a whole new level of understanding to my knowledge on body shaming and women rights. As a stubborn perfectionist myself, if I see something’s not right, I make it right. Women has long been a victim to gender inequality. We are seen as a by-product of men. Our ideal body images are drawn unrealistically by the mass media for centuries.
It’s time to break free. Be the change you want to see.
That’s how I slowly step up the game and don’t give a shit ANYMORE – being fat or thick, doesn’t matter, your value comes from how you see yourself. Once my self-perceptions change, my life is a lot more carefree. It hurts me that a lot of my Hong Kong or Asian friends are still starving themselves for an even thinner body. It took me quite some time to reach this comfortable stage with my body. Life is short, I just wanna live who I am. I embrace my body. I’m not afraid of showing my skin. I’m not afraid to be the outstanding one. I wear what I like. I eat my favorite food but I also work out for the sake of health. I keep myself real. If people criticises me, I laugh at their narrow beauty standards. It’s my body after all, not yours.
Yet, the self discovery journey doesn’t end here. A new problem arises now. Not everyone sees my declaration of “My body My Choice”, more see me as a sexual object. Being in a sea of a lot of men sizing me up and undressing me with their eyes, it actually shacks my own security. They like my appearance, not me as a person. What if they don’t like my “pretty face” anymore?
Self-validating is vital for me, or for everyone out there. Millennials all want someone to validate their existence. However, for real, who are they to judge me? My appearance isn’t what makes up my worth. If I value myself enough, nothing could shake it. It’s okay to have flaws, it’s fine to be heart broken, it’s normal people leave. Be good to yourself before counting on anyone else.
Few days ago a friend asked me : Do you truly know how to love yourself?
In progress. I said.
Yes, self love is never easy. I’ve come a long way but still learning in process. I’d say I’m at a good stage now.
Ina is a digital marketer and content creator based in Hong Kong. She advocates for women’s right, body positivity and mental health. Ina shares her stories and voice through illustrations, write-ups and videos, hoping to inspire girls to break the barriers, to act and to strive for a better future for women. Check out her blog and follow her on Instagram.