Thursday, May 3, 2012

beautiful in my ways

top: h&m/ bottoms: UO/ shoes: Cynthia Vincent/
 necklace: express/ bag: thrifted

I started a new job at an after school center, which at times, like today, leaves me feeling a bit stressed. One thing I've been frustrated with is dealing with students who are teasing one girl. It's discouraging to see how mean-spirited some of them can be, and how they don't even realize how hurtful they are being. This has gotten me to think about how bullying can really affect one's self esteem.  Although I've been fortunate to never experience bullying firsthand, growing up I've suffered with extremely bad self esteem. I've been wanting to share my experience in hopes that it would help others dealing with this issue. Also, in light of my recent frustrations I felt like it would be quite cathartic. 

I was seven years old, when I first felt self conscious about my weight. I was out shopping with an aunt, and I was trying on this cute dress with white flowers on it. The one I was trying on didn't fit, and I needed to try on a bigger size. I don't remember who, but someone made a comment that I was getting chubby. I was a pretty fit kid, maybe starting to get a little tummy, so getting called chubby caught me off guard and was really hurtful. This day was the starting point of the long battle I'd have with body image.

I've struggled with being overweight for 15 years.  Growing up, I would see all my thin, pretty and popular friends, and I hated myself for not looking the way they did. Also, being in an Asian household, your family and relatives tend to blatantly point out all of your flaws. It's not that they intentionally try to be rude or hurtful, I think it's just their twisted way of showing concern and love. However, constantly being told that I was overweight just made me feel like I was never good enough. I always felt so ashamed of myself for the way I looked. 

Not knowing how to deal with these feelings and issues led to an unhealthy cycle of emotional eating. Even though it really did deeply hurt me, I tried to seem indifferent about my family's comments by eating unhealthily. Of course, my problems only got worse, which then led me to feel even worse about myself. Definitely, no bueno! 

It really took me a long time to come to terms with who I am. Fashion played a big part of helping me deal with these issues, and thats why I love it so much. Learning how to play with color, pattern and fit really showed me  how to highlight features I liked and to hide ones I didn't. Developing my style and finding clothes that fit my body type really started to help me feel better about myself. Fashion was transformative for me, but it was also was really changing my perspective and mindset that helped me overcome my self esteem issues. 

 I still have insecurities and issues with body image, but the difference is now I realize that I shouldn't hate myself because of them. I realize that I need to accept and celebrate myself for the person that I am.  I realize that wanting to change is good, but it's wanting to change for the right reason that matters. I do want to lose weight, so I can be healthy and not so I can fit a society's standard of beauty. I do want to continuously grow and develop into a better person so that who I am, and not what I look like radiates beauty.