I was thin. Skinny and skeleton-like. While the rest of the world body-shamed fat people, I was constantly being criticised by my dietary habits. I don’t eat much while I was growing up, and my stomach has the capacity of a Perodua Kancil. Malaysians love food, and people would often say that I was such a waste, I only eat small portions of food and trash out the rest. I don’t like feeling bloated.
Now, in my place, skinny-shaming gives the equivalent effect of fat-shaming at me. It made me hate being thin and skeleton-like. It wasn’t exactly a supermodel body. It was more of a funny body you’ll find yourself cringing because you’re afraid that my bones might break.
As I grew older, I began to learn the importance of being fit instead of being skinny or fat. It mattered less that my body shape defined who I am, and once I had thought of this, I didn’t let anyone laugh at me for being skeleton-like. I made a joke out of it myself, and that was a sure clear evidence that I’m comfortable in my own skin. I don’t take heart when people call me a skeleton. What was suppose to be insults, became an ineffective Pokémon attack, like Magikarp’s Splash, you know?
And then I decided that I wanted to become physically strong.
When I was eighteen, I had a habit – I would get a sad in the evening, and I would go down to the stadium to jog on the running track with my 2GB iPod shuffle that had became my ultimate best friend at that moment. I don’t know whether it was the amazingly beautiful 5PM sun that I wanted to bask in, or was it because I wanted to run away from the closed space in my room, or was it because jogging became a meditative, therapeutic thing. Or maybe because the boys playing football at the adjacent field were worth looking at. But the routine contained so much of what I was always looking for – peace. I made myself a deal to jog almost every evening. It made me calm and happy. I couldn’t imagine what would happen if I didn’t choose to jog back then – will I be miserably sad, still?
I often wondered (and I don’t want to be unaffectionate, selfish or biased), sometimes humans are so delicate but they are often the laziest too. Some took body-shaming as a motivation to improve, some indulged in the romanticisation of depression and suicide from it. I wondered, why would one rather cut himself instead of going outside with his running shoes every single day? Was it because self-harming is easier than working out? Was it because succumbing to people’s body-shaming culture is easier than sweating and churning energy for a better body? In the end there was one sure thing – some people didn’t want to get better, while some people desperately cling onto improvement.
Of course, the latter one becomes someone that embodies empowerment. The former one would always find a way to negativity.
I knew several people who are large-bodied. Instead of allowing people to call them fat, they actually did five kilometres every evening and return home sweaty, refreshed and accomplished. I think they have beautiful spirits, no matter their body size. And I think they would also be the one to live unhappily with scarred wrists if only they hadn’t bought those running shoes in the first place, but they did.
And that was what made the huge difference.
Image via: Pixabay