16 years ago, numbers started to matter more than just the grades I received in school in my teenage years.
Although 51kg was well within the healthy weight range for my height (1.64m), I somehow developed a preoccupation with being over 50kg in my teenage years. It weighed on my mind constantly and whenever I saw the leaner girls in school, I felt ashamed of my weight, of my waistline and felt close to zero confidence in how I looked and how I was as a girl.
Where did that all come from?
I could blame it on the prevalence of skinny models that media sells, but ultimately, it was me that decided to consume what was sold, I chose to take in those social considerations as my own rulebook to judge myself by. I was envious of the lean cute petite Japanese models in the magazine.
Fresh out of polytechnic and working a desk job, the sedentary lifestyle got my weight up to 54kg. That was and still is a healthy number but I recall looking at the number on the weighing scale, that needle pointing to a haunting figure. I decided to do something about it then, and it’s been over 6 years since I started to watch my diet.
I wanted to look good, I wanted to be attractive.
I am vain.
I wanted men to look at me, desire me and love me. (Hello, deluded self haha!)
I dieted, cutting heavy carbs out of my daily meals, consuming lesser sugars, fried food and everything that media and the common men labeled as ‘bad’. I started working out, doing home exercises and going on long walks. I watched everything constantly, my weight, my waistline, my tummy, my food, the amount I ate and how I looked, how I appeared to other people. I also started to invest in makeup and clothes styling, so that I’ll feel better about myself.
It didn’t work out the way I thought it would though. (You guys probably saw this coming from miles away reading the above.)
With added work stress and the conditioned habit of watching what and how much I ate, I not only dropped below 50kg… I even went to a low of 45kg. I was getting compliments and attention, I ventured into relationships, and even dove into online dating. As expected, in retrospect, my stunted growth as a person led me into relationships and conversations that didn’t develop further. They often ended after a few texts, or after a handful of months.
As each chapter closed, all I ever saw was my own shortcomings and how I failed all the men I dated. I didn’t really like myself back then; my confidence was fragile, my self esteem non-existent. I was deemed attractive but it all felt so empty, a hollow image with no substance. Underweight, unhappy and unloved by my very own self, I often thought what was wrong with me, why was I taking my image so seriously?
Why, oh why?
My family was constantly telling me to eat more, my friends reassured me that I looked just fine and that I ought to just eat more cake. But I’d be looking into the mirror, lifting my top and thinking to myself, I’m not skinny enough. I’m not good enough. I’m not pretty. I’m not beautiful.
The list of baseless self-limiting beliefs, self-sabotaging thought patterns and behaviours can go on and on; I have issues, of course, but I never really saw them for what they were until recent years. I looked to the root of my negative feelings, the thoughts behind them and what could have sparked all those endlessly self-defeating cycles of worthlessness.
For years, a couple of decades, I was angry, sad and depressed. I deluded myself with one single simple thought: I am not loved.
But that was, and is not true at all.
I have family, I have friends and they’ve been nothing but supportive, caring people who wished then and always, that I would see more in myself than I ever did with my false paradigm. My worth as a person, as a human, is not based on my weight or how I looked; my being is validated not by how superficially attractive I am. My worth is in how much I can love; how much more loving I can be towards the world and life.
So I began to turn around my thoughts and feelings, switching out bad habits slowly and turning it all from dark to bask in the light and love of all the goodness that was and has always been in my life. (The number of cliched lines and ‘positive vibes only’ words I’m using is making me cringe a little but please bear with me.)
I have only begun to eat and enjoy food in recent years; exercising so that I can eat more and keep fit, instead of trying to hit a lower weight. Now, I weigh 48kg and I’d like to keep it steady but healthy. It’s still hard to entirely not care about what I eat, how I look or the number on the weighing scale.
But I’m making progress on all of those and learning to love myself more wholesomely through conscious food choices and not severe deprivation. I’m putting more weight into the things and issues that matter more than mere numbers on scale. I’m working on self-improvement and doing more of the things I love that bring me joy that wasn’t based on hitting a new low. I’m eating better and I’m enjoying what life has to offer.
Today, I can enjoy what I ate and not feel guilty. Today, I love myself. And that’s good enough. I’m good enough.