I’ve always hated my body. Not that there’s anything remotely wrong or dysfunctional with it, but I’ve always assumed that I’m unlovable because I don’t sport a model body, the typical Instagram girl body (round and tight ass, incredulously perky boobs, deadly curves all around the body while still having a rock hard, flat bod), or at least the average Filipina body (typically petite and flat).
I hated my body because whenever I look in the mirror, I would find something to pick on — much like everybody else I know. I have big arms, a stomach pouch, cellulite and stretch marks that almost blanketed my entire ass, thick legs that can kill you and a double chin that’s an instant comedic relief when the camera accidentally opens from the front. The scale says I’m way beyond what’s socially acceptable too. Each day that I would wake up, I would probably spend a good 5 minutes looking at myself and saying, “You would never get a proper boyfriend with that fat.”
I can vividly remember times where my family would attend parties hosted by family friends and they would ironically greet me with insults, like it was the best way to welcome back someone after you haven’t seen them in a while. They would follow and pester me around, with awkward smiles on their faces saying, “Ang laki-laki mo na, Arra,” (“You’ve gained a lot of weight, Arra,”) and I respond back with the same awkward smile and wishing someone would do something more stupid in the background so the attention wasn’t on me. Seriously asking though, what are we supposed to answer back to such a heartwarming compliment? LOL.
I’ve always disliked people who reach out their hands to pinch my arms or cheeks while I’m eating, who say I shouldn’t take another bite of that dessert, or I’m following the footsteps of my sister, or I’m close to resembling my mom in an insulting way. Since that, every time that we would host parties for them, I would lock myself up in my room and either pretend to be asleep or busy on my laptop just so I wouldn’t spend another minute interacting with people who only seem to see my for my weight.
I can remember that time I broke down on my old Tumblr after an ex-boyfriend refused to pass a cigarette to me and told me it’s not for the fatties. It was the first time that I went out with my high school friends after a long time, and I was very much looking into a real contact with people but a warm contact wasn’t what I came to meet.
I remember a number of conversations with ex-boyfriends forcing me to go to the gym, or lying about breaking up with me, telling me they’re getting a lot busier and can’t give me even just a single hour of their day although I knew that the underlying reason was that it was because I’m a big girl and they couldn’t afford being with one. Saying they miss me and all that, but then going back to telling me I could’ve looked more decent had I been slimmer. Imagine how awkward and painful that is.
I remember crying in the middle of a party after my godfather got drunk and told me I should stop eating all together because I’m a dessert away from looking like my sister. I wanted to punch him so hard that night, but I chose to be the better person and just walked away. Sadly, I didn’t cry because of what he said. I cried because my mother didn’t do anything to defend me after she witnessed that. It came off as her accepting that there’s something wrong with me, and she’s sorry I am this way.
I hated my body because people made me hate my body. I hated myself because I let people treat me like shit and let myself believe my value is dictated by my weight and how others see me. It’s probably the biggest reason why I’ve always been sensitive, always on guard and always try to be detached because I know if I show people my weakness, they would do everything to completely break me down. It has happened before, and it can happen again if I’m not careful….or if I continue to see myself negatively.
But for the most part, I hate it that I have given up on myself. I let others police my body and in the process, think of myself as undeserving of love, respect, affection, appreciation or even just mere kindness.
This headspace has always been in my mind’s back burner but it never got resolved as I never had the balls to tell a soul, because for me it was just embarrassing to talk about this particular insecurity. It’s always the thought that people are going to think I’m making an outcry for my own misery that’s getting in the way of me openly talking about how I accept my body. I am certain people are going to think I need them to sympathize, which is completely not what I’m aiming for and not what I even need.
I confess, at some point I even went on a self-harming streak. The momentary detachment I felt from my emotional pain caused and instead on the physical one was a relief to me. I did it because I felt like I didn’t deserve to be alive; that I’m better off nonexistent, hurt and shamed. I knew the whole ordeal was wrong, but at the time it felt like a better choice than to continue hearing others say the words I dread.
It’s not like I didn’t try to do anything to somehow mend the situation. Unfortunately, I failed because my sole focus was just to put everybody to shame. I desperately wanted to trim off the fat because I want to put a stop from these recurring bad experiences interacting with people. I dreamed to be thin so people would not look at me and pass judgements in their heads. It haunted me for months, and it wasn’t working.
In my life I had two turning points.
One happened during my Flow Yoga class back in summer during college. I had been consistently practicing at the time and in one of our classes, the instructor had us practice the supported headstand. I knew the pose when I was doing at-home practice before, but I always deemed the pose impossible for me to do as there’s no way I could carry myself. Nevertheless, I practiced the stance until my butt is up in the air and my legs are shooting up straight to the ceiling. I was able to do it with the support of my instructor. At that moment, I felt really overwhelmed with what just happened. I was able to get my legs up in the air. Me? Doing a headstand? What the fuck, right?
It hit me when we did our Shavasana that same night. Tears sprang up my eyes because I felt alive. I felt really strong inside that time. I cried because I realized that I haven’t been giving my body enough credit for its capability; that I don’t love myself enough. I am fucking able. I am enough. And that is more than enough.
My second turning point, more like a whole phase really, was when I moved to Dubai last year. I made it a point that once I move to a new city with a seemingly new life, that I would completely change the way I handle my life and the way I see myself. It didn’t happen overnight, obviously. But with time and with the new people that I met, it helped me gain back some self-confidence and that’s when the acceptance and love for who I really am kicked in.
It was time to let go of the bad memories and letting those affect my emotions. Enough with letting people’s voices get into my head. Enough with hating myself and being my biggest critic. Enough with stressing myself with something very trivial. Enough with feeling inadequate. Enough with feeling like I do not deserve shit, simply because of my weight. I am not weight, that is it.
The biggest con of having to battle with this is that you will always be boxed with this idea that you have to get to this stage to be accepted, or to be happy. I’ve dealt with it, and it caused me unhappiness with anything I’ve done. I always felt like a failure because I’m hinged to this idea that people only see me as this fat girl; I felt empty. But now I’m making a stance; I’m now choosing to be happy for myself.
And I’m not saying I’m just going to stop here. Now that I’ve started to be more accepting and more positive about myself, my focus is not on people’s acceptance anymore but my own improvement.
To combat all the bad lifestyle choices that I’ve been incorporating in my life for all these years, I’ve decided to adopt better ones. I’m not going to lie and tell you I don’t indulge anymore but for the most part, I’m doing better. Consequently, this also makes me think that I’m doing a better job at being an adult because I’m taking care of myself more than I usually do. I’m eating more mindfully, hydrating more, cooking almost all of what I consume, filling myself with better and loving thoughts, and doing some yoga from time to time.
I’m doing these not for the end goal of being size whatever, but because I want to thank my body for being able and for being strong enough for me. This is the other cheek of the saying, “You only live once”, which asks us to take good care of ourselves. We only have one body, and we have a responsibility over it. So we have to treat it well and treat it like it’s our temple.
My end goal is to love and accept myself completely. My end goal is to not feel insecure and bruised every time anymore. My end goal is to grow bolder and stronger in character. And my end goal is just to be generally a happier person.
I know that this journey is not an overnight thing, it’s an ongoing progress that will move up and down from time to time. But I know I’m on to something, and that’s more important.