Thoughtful & thought-provoking testemonial
Identity. Noun. “The condition of being oneself or itself, and not another.”
This is something that I’ve struggled with in my life as long as I can remember. I was born to two immigrant parents. One German and One Malaysian-Chinese.
Since I was young, you could say I lived the “stereotypical” first-generation Asian American childhood. Piano, viola, chinese brush-painting classes, get togethers with “family friends”. Deep down inside I always knew I belonged to my Asian heritage even though I was only half. Yet people were constantly finding ways to take that feeling away from me.
When I was younger, I had a “petite” figure, which my mother could dress me up in nice dresses (that I hated). This all changed when I hit middle school. I grew far taller than my mother, aunts and female cousins. I was the one being called “big boned.” Since my body didn’t have a similar metabolism to other asian girls my age, whenever I would gain weight I would instantly be accosted. This never really bothered me; I was a little insecure but still comfortable with my weight. That is, until I hit high school.
My freshman year, I went to a school with an accelerated program, renowned both locally and nationally. Naturally, the school attracted a diverse student body. I went in knowing very few people and found myself attached to the familiar. The Asian Girls. A group of six or so girls who had known each other through Chinese school and other various gatherings. I was the tallest, the widest and the most non-stereotypical “Tiny Little Asian Girl.”
This came to their attention very quickly and was pointed out at every opportunity. To me, it seemed like every time one of them felt they were lacking an aspect of being small, fragile, graceful and adorable, they could point out that I was far less. Five plus years later, I still wonder why I put myself through that shattering of self-esteem. The worst of it came when one of the girls flat out told me to my face, “You are not like us, you are not Asian”. It seemed from that moment onwards, I have fought even harder to become one of them. Tiny, skinny, porcelain-faced, jet-black straight hair. This wound festered to the point of attempting to starve myself. Making myself miserable to please those who used me to boost their own self-esteem.
Even to this day, I’ve struggled with my identity. Yes, I am not a “Tiny Little Asian Girl.” I’m proud to be an Asian-American Woman, regardless if I fit a stereotype or not. My best advice to girls who are struggling with their own identities is to cultivate your own image of yourself. Don’t let others or the media put a label on what you “should be.” Be yourself. Love yourself. Peace, Love, APIA.
So at my school, Hamilton College, for the first time, we’re celebrating National Eating Disorder Awareness week. *trigger for discussion of body image*
This morning i woke up, went to my suite’s shared bathroom, and the entire mirror was covered with inspirational messages. It’s apparently mirror-less monday. (while i appreciate it now, it scared the SHIT out of me at 7am)
There are trying to educate about eating disorders, they have tables set up, and even two life sized barbies for people to see.
But what stuck out to me was that they’re selling “I <3 By Body” t-shirts for 7 bucks. I definitely want to buy one, spread awareness and support the week -I suddenly realized how uncomfortable the idea of wearing the shirt makes me, when i can’t honestly say that i do, in fact, LOVE my body. And this upsets me. I want to buy the shirt and wear it everywhere i go and spread the message, but whenever I wear it it’ll just trigger all of my negative feelings toward how i look.
and i know, for a fact probably, that i wouldn’t feel this way if every-time i went home for break my parents didn’t repeatedly remind me about losing weight. But even that loses it’s sting after a while. What really affected me was when my dad ACTUALLY told me that the next time he sees me, he expects me to weight less “because he’s concerned” and what-not.
Just for fun, here’s a picture of me, (ignore the awkward look on my face - this is the only recent picture of myself i can find) haha:
It just honestly sucks. It’s complete bullshit to act as though images in the media have absolutely no affect on how we perceive ourselves, and what standards we hold ourselves to. It’s strange because i’m known as this “outspoken feminist” how calls people out on being oppressive, critiques the media about perpetuating gender roles and is… insecure about her body? I don’t even like telling people i go to the gym because I don’t want to call attention to how insecure i actually am. But when you think about it, insecurity is so mind-blowingly common and rarely even talked about. I think just about every girl i know probably compares her body/looks/beauty to every other girl she knows. If every girl comes together and just talks about the daily pressures they feel to be thin/pretty/sexualized it would just make all of us feel so much better. One of the worst thing about insecurity is that you feel that you’re the only person in the world that’s insecure. Even seemingly confident people probably hates something about themselves that is absolutely ridiculous. We’re our own worst enemies.
Unless you’re a heartless jackass, i highly doubt people just go around and size people up saying “she can stand to lose those love handles, and that girl clearly had an extra dessert for dinner.” But we walk around, or at least i do, with the conception that everyone is hyper critical of our bodies, when in reality - no one cares. We spend more time internalizing the standard of beauty than rejecting and questioning it. We can’t tie our self worth to what we see in the mirror. It’s a very fucked up aspect of this culture…
I wish I could go through just one day without seeing images of what my body should look like, where i don’t hear some guy describe another girls body, or I just didn’t have to hear someone talk about how they need to go to the gym.
I wish the shirt instead said: “Body image issues are fucking stupid. We’re all beautiful. shit…” Yes. All the profanity is absolutely necessary. Because that’s honestly all we need to hear.
well, this was nice to get off my chest, time to get ready for work!