In part 1 of this article, I talked about the new ‘thicc’ trend, and how Asian beauty standards caused me to become anorexic.
In this follow-up, I talk about how I managed to get out of that cycle.
Here are 3 mantras I repeated to myself to start loving myself again.
1. Your weight ≠ your self-esteem
We live in a time where mindless overconsumption is glorified in the same breath as extreme self-deprivation.
We are constantly bombarded with images of indulgent meals and attractively-packaged snacks, while celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow flaunt their toned bodies.
Questionable diets and gruelling fitness regimes contribute to even more noise and add to the confusion.
It’s frankly hard to know where to start when you decide to make a positive change about how you look and feel about your body.
But basing your self-worth on a number shown by the scale is the worst positive thing to do. Instead…
2. Love thyself.
Before embarking on any fat/weight-loss or physique goals, we need to face up with our underlying insecurities or traumas.
When you accept yourself and are able to be honest with yourself, you empower yourself to make sustainable and healthy changes to your life.
I learnt to be about my limitations. I had to be realistic with what I could do, and what lifestyle changes I was willing to make, and what I really wanted for myself.
That allowed me to identify surer goals… which also helped me stay on track instead of getting distracted by too much external noise.
It was still hard.
When I started hitting the gym, I got a lot of unsolicited comments. That I was “too skinny”, “not lean enough”, “too muscular”, “not swole enough”.
Knowing what I really wanted helped me overcome the occasional self-doubt.
3. Also love thy food.
Changing my relationship with food was the game-changer.
There is a huge difference between enjoying food and abusing food.
Many of us turn to food for comfort, to combat boredom, to avoid having to deal with unpleasant emotions, or even as a means to build other relationships.
Equally harmful is the sense of guilt and shame for the act of putting sustenance into our bodies.
Food isn’t bad. I love my food and I am unapologetic about that. Instead of shunning food I’ve chosen to be more mindful about what and how I eat.
I try to only consume as much as I require; there is a beautiful elegance in eating the right foods in the right amounts.
On the occasions I do over-indulge, I do not berate myself. I just enjoy the experience with no guilt or remorse, and then move on with life.
Healthy habits come when you make it a positive experience, and I’ve found that being too hard on yourself just contributes to more guilt, shame, and even more self-esteem issues.
There’s so much more to life than conforming to a beauty ideal.
Over the years, I’ve gotten into fitness and found that I truly enjoy the lifestyle. I find it very empowering to be able to work on physique goals from an objective perspective.
It’s nice to be so much stronger.
As a result of being so much more active, a happy side-effect has been me ‘leaning’ down (instead of ‘slimming’ down) significantly.
My mother was horrified and the amount of lean muscle mass I’d gained (6kg to be precise). She told me it made me look “big”.
In her day, women with any hint of muscle were considered masculine. That is probably still the general sentiment here in Asia.
Which goes to show that you can’t please everyone. There will always be people who have different preferences.
Looking and feeling good comes from loving yourself, no matter what the current fads call for.
No amount of tweaking a physique is going to change how you feel about what you see in the mirror.
When I was a literal bag of bones I saw nothing but every remaining gramme of fat on my frame. I’ve been over 10kg heavier than that and felt quite comfortable with my curves.
Instead of agonising over my curvy hips that rarely fit well in standard-sized apparel, I now alter my own clothes to fit me better.
To read more about how I got into this cycle, read Why Changing My Weight Didn’t Fix My Self-Esteem – Loving Myself Did. (Part 1)