I had an offer one time from one emerging brand backed by computer and fashion giants. It was was promising. They had amazing clothes and an awesome compensation. When they asked me for my size, they backed out from the deal because I was a size 8 and they only had sample clothing that were either size 6 and below. Their marketing campaign was in a week so we had no choice but to not push thru with the campaign in my social media. I understood where they were coming from- no feelings were hurt. I also interned for clothing brands when I was in Parsons. I knew that it would be additional costs to hire a samplemaker to produce a special outfit for me- who doesn't have the same marketing clout as Kim Kardashian who is not a size 4.
When Instagram followers kept increasing I had more situations where their current PR samples wont fit me, it seemed like the solution was clear. I have to be more fit. I got an Equinox membership which was very helpful. I became fit and more cut. But I'm still not dropping sizes, I'm just more toned. Dont get me wrong. Im happy with my size but it's really frustrating when certain garments wont drape well or doesn't fit me. For the first time, I felt like I didn't even deserve to be an "influencer" or a digital creative. I didn't have that ideal body type of Chiara Ferragni or Kristina Bazan. Please don't get me wrong here, I believe they are healthy individuals. Once again I felt like a teenager- insecure and out of place- trying to follow theroute to be a successful blogger- a skinny one with great sense of style.
I once tried this garment given by a certain brand. The garment fit the other influencers perfectly, and their look communicated "high-fashion". I tried the same design and it resulted to me looking like Stay Puft. I was working out like a maniac, and I still looked like a five grand marshmallow in couture. It was frustrating, after all the time spent in the gym.
One night post-gym, i stopped by Duane Reade with my friend and I saw Ashley Graham's Sports Illustrated cover. The normal sized woman was finally in the cover and it was something we're visually not used to see in print. My friend even told me that she looked obese. Im surprised that people still associated obesity to size or built and not the person's BMI. We all know that Ashley Graham is NOT OBESE.
Many celebrated the cover, and other's just needed to keep their thoughts to themselves. I hope you guys wont punish me for saying this, I'm a recovering brainwashed Fattist; so, I didn't find it attractive right away. I do not hate average sized people, I just unconsciously discriminated them.I had to look at the cover over and over again and condition my mind that she is beautiful and deep down, I know that she is. I honestly don't want to associate beauty to a specific unattainable body type. But like a former prisoner of war, I was tortured or conditioned to believe one thing- a woman with a big built, has a huge BMI, hence she is not desirable nor attractive. Medically speaking, it fucking doesnt make sense.
Shamefully, I'm a product of that generation that was brainwashed by media and society that thin is beautiful. The waif-like body was chic during the 90s. The term "healthy" connotes chubby, or a persons's inability to stop eating. When I think about it, I did feel like a prisoner of war, being brainwashed into thinking that a certain body type or built I don't have was a curse; and, I have to find a way to have the same size as the others (which at that time in Manila, I have to have the same body size as an Average Filipino) . Growing up in the Philippines, I felt that Christmas or Family reunions were a curse. It was like the hunger Game for me- I saw it with dread when the day was loomingThey were events that happened to remind the chubby ones to get their shit together or I will become an old maid, or obese like my mom. The weird thing is my mom is not obese, and she had 5 kids for Chrissakes.
I grew up in Manila where people have petite frames. The average eight is 5'4. I'm 5'8, with size 10 feet and size 8 for clothes. Im huge in their standards like Wun Wun the giant. When I was 12 , we were in New Zealand with my family, and my tactless uncle told me that I should stop eating the freshly made ice cream from the farm while I was snacking with my cousins. When I was 11, they told me that my thighs were as big as my mom's when I was about to go swimming with my cousins and friends. I was publicly shamed. For the first time, I was ashamed of my body and I was still a child. I hid in baggy clothes. That's when the self-loathing developed, I never swam again for years. I dreaded the idea of going to beaches because i know I will be scrutinized and be told not to eat certain things. I hated everyone, I ate as much as any other kid but I was still bigger. I removed rice, oil, butter and all kinds of suggested things from my diet. I felt like i was cursed. My parents cursed me with a bad genes and my dad has a weird habit of over ordering, and I resented him more (poor guy). I also loved soccer but the thought of playing in shorts scared the shit out of me because I was cursed with a disgusting body and it should be covered by all means. People who shamed me for my size excused themselves for being a concerned aunt or uncle. This belief that was ingrained in me destroyed my childhood and my teenage years. I couldn't just simply hang and chill out by the beach, I was consumed with the thought that someone will shame me for being brazen enough to show my body.
Like a proactive teen, I tried to do something about it. I didn't have the resources to research about nutrition or the money to buy the right things. When a relative, offered me diet pills from Bangkok, I took it. I became a 15 year old, who does not sleep and was regularly ingesting "diet pills" laced with crack. I momentarily lost weight, but, I became very moody to borderline violent. Then, I heard about the now banned, Ionamine from my sister's high school friends. I took that for many years and It destroyed me. I once watched my necktie bounce from my chest because my heart was palpitating. One funny incident was when i accidentally mixed Bangkok pills with alcohol- and I started hallucinating. I sacrificed well being just to tweak my body into the desirable size. I devolved from a happy child to a zombie teen with violent tendencies and depression.
I honestly felt paralyzed by my built. Looking back it was the most tragic thing that ever happened to me. I was just a self-loathing, drug dependent, sleepless teenager who was constantly tortured by the idea of showing my body. Many praised my weight loss, I assumed i was doing the right thing. I was momentarily happy by the weight loss but I was mentally tired, hungry, and scared of food. I just needed people to stop telling me that I was fat , and I sacrificed of my mental stability. When I was entering young adulthood, I finally realized that crack-laced drugs are bad and prescription drugs were equally bad as well. I turned to working out in the gym. Finally I found a healthy solution. No more palpitations and sleepless nights. I thought I was doing something healthy, but I was a woman obsessed. I was working out as much as a Victoria Secret Angel without even walking on the runway. All that effort for no monetary compensation. I sometimes had 3 hours of spinning classes followed by an hour of weights. I realized that something was off when i turned down free Scuba classes because it will be held at the same time as my spinning classes. Idiot! I was scared to travel to countries without a gym. I had the best body ever after 8 years of discipline, but I thought I was pathetic for being obsessed with the gym. I was working out like i was a model without being one, and I had to get a life past this.
I moved to New york, and I was finally surrounded with different body types from different races. People described me as beautiful, healthy or even sexy. And no matter what my body type is in here, people wouldn't care. I was finally not letting my body be the measure of me. We had other important things to focus on, like finding a way to pay rent (hahaha). It was a hodgepodge of races, body types and cultures. The city was proud of its diversity, in fact, we celebrated it. My obsession with weight slowly disappeared, I would rather focus on health. I still have remnants of weight PTSD, which I'm still working on because I know others do not deserve to go thru this torture as well.
One time when I was in Barra beach in Brazil, I was shocked with the amount of skin I saw from women of different body types. In my mind, I was thinking " who the hell do they think they wear that- they have cellulite" or "why is she just wearing just a thong - she's size 16", I once took a picture of a random lady in a thong with a bum bigger than J.Lo , and I shamed her in my Facebook solely to my friends who also made fun of the lady. Then one classmate from Parsons called me out for my "assholery", I was shaming a happy and healthy anonymous woman playing frisbee in the beach. I became the asshole whom I dreaded when I was a kid. I was self-righteous and bitter, I thought, I suffered a lot to have the current body I have, and only people with my size and below can wear a skimpy bikini. I'm embarrassed that I thought like this and I am acknowledging it. I became a closeted body Nazi in the beach.
Now I am aware that this way of thinking that was ingrained in me is wrong. I sometimes catch myself thinking about how "big" my nephew's bellies are, and I realize that they were just 5 years old and they shouldn't be concerned about body size. They should focus on being happy kids. I'm glad that I've been successfully stopping myself for commenting about their bodies. They do not deserve to be shamed. I still feel the effects of years of body shaming, I find it hard to wear mini skirts of short in public even if its 110 F outside- i would still wear jeans and die of dehydration. I'm trying to get comfortable wearing anything sleeveless or a size that is smaller than I'm used to. I once wore a pair of shorts in Central Park and soaked my sun deprived thighs with Vitamin D. It felt great laying in the grass and not giving a fuck what people thought of me. I celebrated being the awesome healthy me by reading a book and drinking juice in the grass. I just focused on being happy with myself.
After receiving emails from teens about how they loathed their bodies, I felt compelled to write this post. Looking back, I wish I realized that people who shamed me for my size were either rude, ignorant or just assholes, and I should have called them out for it. Even if they were older than me. I should have told them that they are not doctors or weight professionals, and they should shut it. Perhaps they didn't know that they were hurting me and they were genuinely concerned. I should have told them that I didn't like their comments and it was hurting me. Instead, I just quietly suffered and fucked up my health.
I only started enjoying the beach, Christmas-es, and family reunions as an adult. I'm trying to make up for the misery I had as a kid. Now that I'm considering the possibility of having a family. There's NO WAY I will deny my phantom children of an awesome childhood by making them concerned about their appearances. I'm not going to deny them the wonders of chocolate and ice cream- in healthy doses of course. We should show our children (in my case future child) that being different ; or, being bigger or smaller is okay, and their body differences shouldn't be the measure of what they are and what they will be.
For now let's enjoy the very beautiful Ashley Graham in the DNCE's Toothbrush video. Kudos to them.