Updated: Oct 22, 2020
A private talk about body image, fat shame, and self confidence.
I grew up in an environment where having a perfect and skinny body is praised. People would consistently judge each other and criticise others with different body types. I've been through an extremely low-calorie diet, publicly fat-shamed, and liposuction surgery - but I never achieved the perfection that society expected. I was unhealthy, sad and angry. Eventually, I gave up. I decided that beyond perfection, there should be happiness.
Understand, accept and appreciate different types of shape
#BodyPositive is a huge topic today. People are starting to think our mental health should be prioritised before our mental needs - meaning one's wellbeing should be prioritised before fulfilling the need of being wanted, desired and praised. However, to reach that wellbeing, we have to accept who we are and what we are, so that we can understand the differences and stop trying to be someone we are not, which may lead to self-hate.
When I was a teenager, I did believe I could have the perfect body type if I followed a diet and lifestyle of a certain celebrity. If I failed, that meant I didn't try hard enough. I believe to this day, there are still a lot of women who share the same frustration. I started to think differently after I moved abroad. I was amazed by how different every woman is. I soon realised that the world was not divided into two body types, one perfect and one fat.
Illustration by Diego Sabogal Whether you are triangle, hourglass, pear, round, rectangle, spoon or athletic body type, you cannot force yourself to become the type you are not. However, you can be the best version of yourself that is irreplaceable, happy and healthy. Please don't lose weight for people's expectation, only lose it because it makes you happier or healthier.
What does making peace with food mean?
I seriously had no idea what it meant when people told me that I needed to fix my relationship with food, until I joined the nutrition coaching journey myself. We are all human that have desires, and that affects the way we make decisions, big or small. Before we put ourselves in a position where we finish a bottle of wine or have a second slice of cake, maybe we should pause and ask ourselves why. Where do all these desires come from? Why are we restricting ourselves?
Making peace with food is not about giving up on your diet. Instead, figure out what was the first trigger that made you want to start this idea - only then you can change your relationship with food and make peace with yourself. For example, when I stand in front of the mirror, I can often still hear my old agent saying ''You should stop eating”. It used to fuel me with anger and self-disgust, which resulted in me skipping meals. I always felt I let down the people that had the highest expectations of me – I therefore thought that I didn't deserve to eat. After years, I fully understood that my struggle was wanting to fulfil expectations from other people. Now, I’ve made peace with myself and I eat when I please and no longer feel guilty when I approach a bag of digestives, or feel bad when Mom called and said: 'Your face looks so round, have you gained weight?'.
The peace we all have to make is the peace we need with ourselves. From there, every time something triggers the 'I need to eat/drink something that's not good for me' button, you will get the freedom to decide if you want it or not. You are back in the driving seat for your emotion with full control.
Do I reach perfection after happiness?
To be honest, my past will always be a part of me that I’m slightly insecure about. However, on the way of reaching happiness, I take great care of myself by balanced eating, great sleep, exercise, having good gatherings with friends, focusing on my own inner world, and I actually lose weight, have better skin and mood! I wouldn't say this is perfection, but hey! I have never been this happy and healthy before!
I think seeking perfection is a journey rather than a destination, and only a healthy body and happy soul could let you go a long way. In the end, I hope you all find the unique perfect place of yours.