How I Began to Love My Body, Part 1: My Deep Hatred for My Body

This is part 1 of 4-part series on body image—how I hated my body for a long time, learned to love my body eventually, and how you can achieve a positive body image as well.

Legs

Thin legs

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For a long time up until recently, I hated my body.

While most people hate their body due to certain features, their body frame, or a disdain of their body type, my body hate did not stem from any of that. I never had a problem with my natural appearance, my body type, my height (1.7m / 5′ 7″), my body frame (which is bigger than the average petite Asian female due to my height), nor my facial features (except for two of them, which I addressed a year ago as shared in my beauty article.)

Rather, my body hate stemmed from my inferiority of my weight.

I had always felt that I was heavier than I should be. While I have never been overweight or truly “fat,” I used to wish that I could be thinner/lighter. I believed that no matter how (well) I looked, how many people praised me about my appearance, or how heavy (or light) I was, I would be much more attractive if I was slimmer—much slimmer.

Start of My Self-Body-Hate

A Childhood Experience

A big part of this self-body-hate probably started when I was in secondary school.

I had a girl friend who would regularly dissect and disparage her body parts, including referring to her thighs as “tree trunks” — even though she was stick skinny and easily one of the skinniest girls I knew.

At that time, I didn’t understand why she would repeatedly put down her looks like that. Whenever she berated her thighs, I would look at my own thighs and wonder why she would think her thighs were large, for my thighs were much larger (and I was at a healthy weight for my height).

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While I did not hate my body nor think that I was fat in any way then, hearing her constant disparaging of her thighs planted the first seeds of doubt about my body’s integrity. It made me wonder if I was perhaps missing something about my body and that it was not as “okay” or perfect as I thought it was.

Thin = Beauty = Attention from Guys

Somewhere down the line, between growing up in primary school and junior college, I noticed that the thin girls would get more attention from guys and/or appear more physically attractive to them.

For example, when I was in secondary school, there was girl who was excruciatingly skinny and was regarded as a school belle among my peers. When I was in junior college, I had a fairly skinny schoolmate who often received compliments from male peers about her looks even though she didn’t have the conventional good looks/features. It was apparent that guys found her attractive because of how slim she was.

And then on and off, one would hear of girl friends with suitors or guy friends who are after particular girls. The common denominator among all these girls was that they would be fairly skinny (as opposed to having certain facial features or a “look”), which was undoubtedly attractive to the guys.

These incidents made me subconsciously conclude that being skinny is equivalent to beauty and that to be regarded as beautiful by others, I had to be stick skinny.

Projections of Beauty by the Media

Subsequently, I became exposed to projected images of beauty in the mass media on a regular basis. From leggy models to sharp facial contours to stick-thin celebrities, these images were repeatedly projected as standards of beauty which all girls should strive for.

Guys would hanker after females with said qualities, hence reinforcing these images as “standards” to strive for. Among females, sizes 0 to 2 (U.S. size) would be aspirational dress sizes because these were dress sizes for models and shop mannequins.

Myself, I was no size 0 nor size 2; I don’t think it’s physically possible for me to ever achieve this dress size because my natural body frame just isn’t that small. The thinnest I can be without looking bizarrely thin would be size 6–8 (which would my current dress sizes); endeavoring to achieve a size 0 or 2 would only make me look extremely unproportional and no different than some alien being.

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Of course, this wasn’t a factor of my concern back then. My only obsession was to be as thin as possible, then evaluate the results later.

To be stick skinny—that was deemed as a good thing. To not be stick skinny was deemed as being not “attractive”, not “beautiful”, or even—not deserving of love.

Attempts to Conform to the Idealized Image of Beauty

Corset

A scarily tiny midriff

Because I did not conform to the sticky skinny image of beauty (I hovered between U.S. sizes 10 and 14 during the years I struggled with my weight), I harbored a deep hatred for my body. I constantly wished that I was thin, thinner than I was, or better yet, thinnest among everyone I knew.

My weight loss journey would be fraught with difficulties for my childhood was laced with emotional eating issues (which I’ve written before in my 6-part emotional eating series and have since overcame as well). I constantly ate to feed my emotions, resulting in weight gain over time despite my healthy eating efforts and constant exercising.

Because of my emotional eating issues, weight was frequently an area of contest within myself. I would constantly set goals to lose weight, only to fail one way or another. This would make me hate myself even further, for not being able to achieve my goal.

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For the record, my real problem was not in losing the weight. My problem was with sustaining my weight losses, partly due to my emotional eating issues. Regardless of how much weight I would lose during each weight loss endeavor, I would regain my “excess” weight after a while, through one way or other. From gradual regains over the span of months to immediate weight regains in a matter of days, I would always regain my lost weight.

It was almost as if my excess weight had a mind of its own. No matter how many times I lost it, it would find its way to pile itself back onto my body. It was as if I couldn’t run away from it, no matter how hard I tried.

The Dark Depths of Self-Body-Hate

I hated hating my body. I hated constantly berating my body as if it were a contemptuous object.

From hating the fats on my thighs, to hating the thin space between my thighs, to hating the “heaviness” of my body (largely a psychological perception), to hating the “bigness” of my hips, to hating the “largeness” of my calves, I hated everything there was to hate about my body.

I constantly wished that I was a few dress sizes smaller so I could fit into smaller clothes and be as slim as the standard stick-skinny Asian girl on the street. I constantly wished I could be lighter by say, 10kg or so, so that I wouldn’t need to slug this extra weight around and look like some fat loser to the world.

The mirror was one of my biggest nemesis, for it would reflect the image of my burgeoning body, something which I absolutely abhorred. To me, looking into the mirror was like being confronted with one of my deepest nightmares—to be an ugly and fat b*tch whom no one would ever find desirable nor want to be with. There were times when I would avoid looking into the mirror because I didn’t want to be faced with the image of my constantly expanding physical body, a problem which was made especially real due to my emotional eating problem.

Deep Devastation

In my heart, I was devastated.

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Why can’t I lose this weight (permanently)? I kept asking myself. For while I had no problems with many things in life and could easily overcome any problems that came my way, this weight thing just kept spinning its way back into my life—over, and over, and over again. It was a problem I could not conquer, and because of that, it gradually gained tremendous power over me.

I would be caught in this cycle of trying to lose weight, losing a bit of weight in the beginning, being taken off track in my diet and/or exercise after a few days, regaining all my weight back after that due to self-sabotage, then returning with a vengeance and deeper resolve later on to lose my excess weight all over again. No matter how many times I failed in my weight loss regime, I would return shortly after (be it a matter of days or weeks) to have a go at this goal again. Each time I would fail, and each time I would return to try again after that.

It would take a while before I would realize that there was something deep in my subconscious which was driving my recurring weight regain, and that I had to first decipher and address this issue before I could finally end my struggle with my poor body image.

Move on to Part 2: Unraveling My Weight Issues, where I delve into my issue of self-body-hate and unravel the mystery behind my continuous weight regain.

This is part 1 of a 4-part series on body image—how I hated my body for a long time, learned to love my body eventually, and how you can achieve a positive body image as well.

Images: LegsBack

Love,

Celes

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