Friday, 18 December 2015

The Good, the Bad and the Numbers of My Body

Body issues is something I've talked about a lot on the blog before, which you can read here (about losing weight), here (about body image) and here (about womanhood). Which is why, when my friend Klara talked about her body story - and encouraged the reader to join her - I was inspired to talk specifically with the relationship I have with my body. To be honest, my body story isn't even half as dramatic as Klara's, so I'm not sure if this will be interesting to read...but I'd like to encourage everyone to be able to talk about this topic. If not to anyone, at least with themselves. So I hope this will inspire you to address your issues, see your body for the beauty it really is and appreciate yourself a bit more.

The Numbers
As I've mentioned before, I've always identified myself as the fat girl, especially in my family. Everyone has always thought likewise. I am currently 161 cm (5 ft 3') tall and weigh around 65 kg (143.3 lb.), which, sad to say, is a bit more overweight than I would have liked. On my primal condition, I should weigh around 55 - 58 kg (121.2 - 127.9 lb.), which was my weight around 2013-2014. You can distinguish the difference from my current physical state. However, thanks to my small bones, even when I was 70 kg (154.3 lb.) - which was around this June - people never suspect a thing. My aunt used to say, "Don't believe in the scale, just believe in the clothing size." - because numbers don't tell you anything about how you look.

What I Dislike About My Body
Just like everyone else, there are things I feel insecure about when it comes to my body. These things change with time and how my body reshapes, but it tends to be a lingering fear - a fear that it would return to its ugly state.

My huge forehead is a start. It is the reason I always have bangs. People always tease me about it - good-naturedly perhaps, but it still makes me insecure. Even now I don't like to show my forehead to just about anyone, for fear that they will think less of me. Silly, I know, but that's how I feel. When I used to live in Halle, a female friend of mine also had a huge forehead and she wasn't ashamed of it. In her culture, it is considered a sign of high intelligence, which could be true, and it made me feel better. At least now, when I'm around my loved ones or at home, I'm not afraid to show it off for practical reasons - unlike before.

When I was younger, my teeth used to be aligned right. Somewhere along the way, a buck tooth appeared and it is hard to hide. Whenever I smile, it peeks from under my upper lip, creating an uneven look to my face. Sometimes it's got food stuck underneath it, tucked between all these teeth, making it almost impossible to get. When I was in middle school, my Mom promised to get me braces after final exams, but somehow it fell to the wayside and, almost a decade later, my teeth still aren't well-aligned.

Believe it or not, slanted eyes are also a subject of insecurity for me. They have caused countless people to think I was Chinese - sometimes even Korean or Japanese - although I have no such heritage in my family, as far as I know. They also make me look quite sleepy and unmotivated, even when I try so hard to look energetic. Thankfully, my glasses magnify them most of the time. This is not meant to offend any Chinese people out there, though. It's just a weird insecurity on my part.

The list goes on, of course. There are also flabby gut (which changes with weight), chubby calves, thin lips, small boobs and so on. But these three are essentially the parts I feel most insecure about. I used to think these insecurities are what turn boys away from, what made me unattractive and what would degrade me as a human being. I was wrong, of course. What you and I look like does not determine who we are as a person.

What I Love About My Body
I believe that balancing the negative talk with the positive views of our bodies is important. It helps us acknowledge the beauty of our physical state from an almost objective point-of-view. There is no such thing as an all-bad situation. Everything has its ups and downs, always. So always make sure that, whenever you list down the things you don't fancy about your body, you also point out the good qualities of it.

For as long as I can recall, my small bones have always helped me look as thin as possible. They have their downside, of course, like when I've lost a little more weight than usual, I looked positively sickly. Recently, I found out that 53 kg (116.8 lb.) was my limit - any less, I would've looked like a skeleton. On the flip side, when my weight was through the roof, I still looked healthy - and not overweight or worse. It also helped that my body has an almost perfect proportion - as pointed out by many girls who I thought were prettier than me.

Also, my skin has low-maintenance complexion. Although I've always made to believe that my sister was prettier than me, the amount of skincare products she needs just to keep her skin under control is baffling. I could always get away with doing very little to my skin and getting pimples probably once in a blue moon. But there are girls who are less fortunate than me, apparently, making me realise that maybe I was lucky to have been gifted this type of skin. It gets awfully dry in the winter, though, but that's the least of my problems. My hair is also easy to maintain, requiring me to comb it probably once or twice - or maybe I just don't care enough, because it always does look unruly.

Furthermore, my cheek bones are rather high, without any need for a contour. It gives my face this heart shape, which goes with any hairstyle. Although, if you look closely, you might notice that my face is wildly asymmetrical - it leans more towards the right, a fact Firu pointed out to me a couple years ago. This face shape also makes me look less overweight than I really am, unlike people with chubby cheeks who look quite beefed up as soon as they gain a little weight.

The Conclusion
Recently, I went through the most aggressive disease treatment for my Tuberculosis condition, which included two surgeries. The scars have thankfully healed now, although the bumps from the initial disease itself haven't fully gone away even now. It changed my body in a quite profound way, leaving scars which will probably never truly disappear. People I meet might spot it and intrigue to ask what happened. Although it really doesn't bother me on a daily basis, sometimes I worry how it will affect me in my relationship with my body and also with other people.

Unlike Klara - and other people - who may be struggling with their body condition, I am still considered to be incredibly lucky. My body and mind are low maintenance and pose little trouble for me. More so now than ever. When I was younger, I didn't believe that I was beautiful. People tended to tell me that I was fat or ugly or unattractive or all of the above. And when you hear that over and over again, you start to believe it. Later on - though it may seem cliché - it took one man to open up a world where people could acknowledge and appreciate my beauty. It took a lot of guts to realise that my body also has some good quality. Before, I didn't even realise that I had them. What's more, that there are people who love your 'bad' ones too.

These things, the good and the bad, they help shape me for who I am. They help me distinguish the important people, who do care and love me for who I am, from those who would only see me for what I lack. I hope you will see that you, too, have good qualities in you, that there may come someone in the future - or maybe there already is someone - who love you for all that you have; the good and the 'bad' ones. Try this exercise: write down what you love and what you dislike about your body. If you can, write more of what you love than what you don't like. Show it to someone you love. You'd be surprised at how their opinion may differ from yours.

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