Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Size 18.

I come from a place where men and women alike consider thin and petite as beautiful, where stores stock only standard sizes S, M, L or 6, 8, 10, 12. I come from an ethnicity where having a big ass means you have a fat ass, but having a big bosom is okay (even though it's kinda rare). I come from a large extended family that breeds genetically pear-shaped women, but every Chinese New Year these genetically pear-shaped women are cruelly criticized as unattractive and in need of shedding half our body weight. I belong to a circle of friends who constantly complain that their size 8 posteriors are fugly and horrible, that their cheeks are too fat even though they have 25-inch waistlines, and that their arms are too fat for sleeveless clothes because they have the tiniest ounce of wobbly.

All of that would probably never matter to me if I fit in, but I don't. I never have, and I doubt I will ever fit into a Malaysian size 10. I've always been bigger than probably 99.9% of the women (and men) I'm surrounded by. I'm 5'6" and I have a butt that only finds its way into bottoms if its tight at the hips and too loose at the waist. I enjoy carbs too much, I'm averse to sweating it out in sports and gyms, I'm uncoordinated and clumsy, and I lead a typically 21st century sedentary lifestyle that revolves around my laptop and iPhone.

Up until my early twenties, every Chinese New Year I would end up crying in the bathroom because too many relatives called me fat (which I am, but I don't need to be told five times before noon), and I stopped wanting to have birthday parties because that would be just another occasion to see relatives more than once a year.

The thing about being a size 18 in this country is that you live in an environment designed to make you feel ugly. So for years, I felt ugly. I never thought I could be sexy, or attractive, or ever be considered beautiful.

But this isn't a sob story. I don't feel sorry for myself, and contrary to how thin people may feel, I don't hate myself for being overweight. This is about accepting your shape and size, and understanding that the only motivation that works to have a healthier lifestyle would be to love yourself more.

I've learnt to embrace my curves - I'm not religious, but I think God created all of us to be beautiful. So I don't have an hourglass figure, but who died and said only hourglass figures are beautiful? It's okay to be pear-shaped, or apple-shaped, or rectangular. It's okay to be size 6, or 14, or 18, or 22. Of course, it's best to be healthy - but don't feel ugly in the process, don't feel like you'll be beautiful only when you're thin... we're beautiful all the time. When we wake up in the morning and have no make-up on, we're beautiful. When we climb under the sheets in our jammies with a good book before sleeping, we're beautiful.

It's okay not to live up to the painfully almost-impossible standards set by fashion magazines, beauty experts, and the mass media. We don't all have to have flat stomachs, it's okay to have cellulite on your ass, it's okay to have wrinkles and eye bags, and it's okay to have wonky teeth (I do!).

To whoever reading this, if you feel ugly, don't. Because I'm size 18, happy, and beautiful.

Photographs in this blog post are from a plus-size catalogue photoshoot I modelled for. The store: Aishop | Aishop at http://www.aishop.com.my/ :)


Anne said...

random: maybe you could blog about how you and willi meet? it'd be a lovely story :)

Sha-Lene said...

Hi Anne! :D That's a great idea, I shall do that after I meet Willi for the first time next year. :)

Miss A said...

inspiring. thank you..you make me feel better now. :)

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