Most people have struggled with body image issues at some point in their lives. I am no exception. I was painfully aware of being plain and overweight from a very young age. And no this is not going to be a sob-story about a plain fat girl battling a cruel superficial world.
The fact of the matter is I am still slightly over weight but have come to learn quite recently that I’m considered ‘curvy’. It is apparently the era of the ‘big booty’ (Jlo, Nicky Minaj, Iggy Azalea etc.) so the one feature that I have tried to hide all my life with long T-shirts and jackets is the very reason men ogle at me now. Women are apparently wearing padded underwear to achieve the same shape. Based on evolution though, it makes sense. Wide curvy hips are supposed to indicate fertility and therefore men are genetically more prone to be attracted to women with curvy hips. But this was not the case in my part of the world (the part where I spent the majority of my life) which is why I am still having a hard time wrapping my head around this phenomenon because my voluptuous derriere was the source of hurtful snide remarks from friends and family and sad little sighs from my parents, who even suggested the weirdest exercises like bouncing around on my behind without using hands or feet (kind of like a dog with an itch), hoping that it would help me get rid of fat from my problem area. I even had a boyfriend who told me I had a big butt but he was ‘ok’ with it like he was doing me a favor.
Skin color is also a very important beauty criteria in my part of the world.I was told I’m lucky because I have fair skin. Dark (and rich of course) men would line up to marry me in an attempt to ensure their future generations were not doomed with dark skin. They wouldn’t even care that I was fat(so I had that going for me). So imagine my surprise when I was referred to as dark and exotic by my American friends, And not just that, the word ‘dark’ was used positively an in I was lucky my skin was naturally the color that they would have to spend hours (and often money) to achieve. Also being referred to as exotic was a little strange. So much confusion for this plain overweight Asian girl!
It didn’t end there. I went from being large and bulky to small and curvy. My weirdly shaped eyes were suddenly beautiful. And all without any liposuction or secret plastic surgery. The only thing that had changed was my geographical location and suddenly I was tasked with this immense job of re-evaluating the self-image that I had built and come to accept for over 25 years of my life. Sadly, one thing did remain constant. No matter where I went, I was objectified. For me, the intention of said objectification might have changed from, say, negative to positive (I guess?), but I was still being objectified. And the saddest part is that we women often give in to this objectification. Take for example the ‘selfie’ trend. Most selfies comprise of made up, duck faced women trying to be as sexually appealing as possible. I, on the other hand, think the ‘selfie’ above is far more interesting – the wrinkles just beginning to appear at the corner of my almost 32 year old face, those visible pores that add texture to the picture, dry uneven skin (even more texture!) and that hint of a mustache. I think this makes for a much more interesting picture than the perfectly made up flawless girl’s selfie.
Sorry I went off on a bit of a tangent (half-assed attempt to bring the picture into the context of this story). So how did I get through the whole self-image revamp? I admit I did spend time thinking about it. But in the end I did what I’ve always done in these situations – I smiled, accepted the complements (as I did the insults before) and went back to focusing on the more important things in life. I am who I am and the things I want in life don’t have much to do with how beautiful or ugly others think I am. I work out, eat healthy(or at least try) and try to maintain an appropriate body weight because I want to be healthy, and I protect my skin from the sun because I’m afraid of skin cancer. Beyond that it you think I’m fat and ugly or curvy and beautiful, is up to you.
On a side note, I would like to mention that I do enjoy my fiance’s little complements about my behind. It doesn’t confuse or annoy me because this is a man who has seen my morning face, smelled my morning breath, dealt with my crazy temper and mood swings and still loves me. I’m pretty sure he would still love me if I gained 50 lbs and my face became all wrinkly and distorted. I’m pretty sure but not absolutely sure 😛