I’m Asian and fat. I love to eat more than I exercise, but I still contribute 30 minutes daily to working out. I have a stomach, and no, I don’t have a bum, but I do have my “marshas” that I treasure and love. No long, full, and thick hair for me either. Ever since high school, I have been experiencing hair loss since my recovery from a herniated disc. It makes me sad and insecure. I am 28 years old, yet I have many body insecurities that I still need to overcome. Today, I will share about my body insecurities that have been feeding on me for the past 10-13 years.
Currently, I am at my heaviest weight, and while I do not openly share my weight with most of my friends, it has been hard for me to lose weight. For the four to five years, I haven’t gain or lose weight. It is like I reach a plateau where my body is rejecting my wants and mocking me by saying, “No gaining weight for you, but you’re not going to lose any weight either.” I have not been trying as hard as I should be to lose weight. The diets did not work for me for many reasons, mainly because I live with my family. My diet primarily consists of what they eat and drink. Plus, I find that it is a hassle to cook a separate meal.
Additionally, it’s too expensive. In my family, while my older sister and mom pay for the mortgage, electricity, car insurance, etc. I’m the one that is in charge of groceries because that is what I can afford after paying my student loans and phone bills. Sometimes I pay for the water bill. So, I cannot afford to buy all the groceries for my diet and my family. So, I gave up on diets.
I used to wake up early in the morning and spend an hour working out before getting ready for the rest of my day. It felt really great to sweat and then refreshing after a cold shower. However, I cannot recall the last time I worked out. I was burned out from work, and I didn’t particularly appreciate how my workplace handled the COVID pandemic. When compared to Black Friday and the holidays, we were busier. That I find myself not being able to wake up in the morning due to feeling overwhelmed and the anxiety that I may come home to my family, exposing them to the virus. Now I’m attending graduate school full time, and most of my focus has been going towards my school work in the morning, and when I come home, I tried to finish any assignments before going to bed. I have not been kind to myself. I have not been taking care of my body both physically and mentally as I should be. There is no one to blame but myself.
Growing up in a Hmong community, even as a child, many Hmong parents would be telling my parents that I needed to lose weight. It wasn’t just me, but my older sister as well. I cannot speak for my older sister, but I can say that I was not obese as a child. The only time I was told that I needed to lose a little weight after recovering from my herniated disc since I had gained a lot of weight over the year. As a young child, hearing other adults telling my parents about how fat I was, traumatized me because it shows me how other people see me. I wish they would have said that to my parents when I was not there, but they did. As I grew a little bit older, I would hear things like, “if you lose a little bit of weight, you will be the prettiest of your sisters and even all the other girls your age,” or “you should eat this and take this out of your diet to lose some weight.” As if listening to what these adults had to say about my weight and body, boys, especially the Hmong boys, just had to upfront told me about how big and unattractive I was. Since I was 11 or 12 years old, listening to what others had to say about my weight did a lot of damage to my self-confidence and self-esteem. That was when I started to be wary of my body and noticing all my flaws. Flaws that I wish I did not have and imperfections that I wanted to erase.
I have what I liked to call “bat wing arms” because my arms do have a little bit of fat, and I’m very conscious of my bat wing arms that I have to wear sleeve. There was a period when I would wear sleeveless tops without worrying about being judged, but now I do not have the freedom to do so. In tenth grade, I remember during Civics and Economics class, we were put into groups, and we were supposed to come up with some common laws and shared them with the class. One group shared, “people that are over 200 pounds should not be wearing shorts or sleeveless tops.” Even though it was just a class assignment, I thought it was not pleasant to have said it, especially when a few students were overweight. I was one of them. While everyone laughed, thinking that it was a ridiculous common law, the group thought I couldn’t even afford to laugh. There are so many beautiful sleeveless dresses and tops that I love and want to buy. I even own a few, but I do not dare to wear them out in public. Instead, they sit in my closet for a long time, and eventually, they get donated. There are times I would wear a shirt underneath or a sweater on the top, not just because I feel uncomfortable exposing my arms but also because I have armpit fat, and I don’t want people staring at me.
Additionally, as much as I love wearing fitted clothes, I like to hide my body under baggy and oversized clothes. I have a stomach and rolls that I don’t feel comfortable showing. I have a few crop tops, but I usually buy them a size bigger to run an inch or two longer. One day, I wore a cropped sweater that was so cute with a pair of high-waisted jeans. It took me a lot of courage to wear that on campus. I was in a rush to class. I did not have the time to think of what other students have to say, but once I heard what one of my friends had to say, I gave that sweater to another friend. My friend didn’t say much, but she said something about the sweater too short for me. I reminded her that it was a cropped top. She looked like she had something else to say but didn’t. My friend that I gave my sweater to encouraged me to keep it. She was the one that put the outfit together at H&M for me and made me try it on when I was so adamant that it would not fit me. Even though she and another friend told me to keep it, my other friend’s voice and her look just echoed in my mind, so I didn’t keep the sweater.
Every time I take a selfie, it lasts for hours because I’m trying to find the perfect angle where my double chin does not show as much and that my face does not look so big. Looking in the mirror, I am unattractive because of my double chin and just how big my head is. I don’t consider myself pretty because I see all these flaws. For example, I have uneven eyebrows, a wide and flat nose, and a wide forehead. I even wish for fuller lips and a defined jawline.
Moreover, I miss my thick hair, and I’m jealous of girls with thick hair. It was very unfair for me to lose my thick hair because that was the only thing I ever liked about my body. Some of my friends do not know about my health history, and so when they mentioned how thin my hair is, it is just another reminder of the pain I went through and the insecurity currently experiencing. Even those who know of my health history would bring up my hair, and I want to pretend that I never heard them.
I see a body full of flaws that I wish never ceased to exist or happen in my own eyes. I see imperfections that I want to erase. There are insecurities that I have been struggling with for ten to thirteen years. Each day when I wake up, I deal with accepting these insecurities over and over again. It is a nonstopping cycle where I tell myself that I should learn to accept myself to start taking better care of myself. Everyone has body insecurities. Just because someone does not openly discuss it does not mean that someone feels happy with her body. It could mean that she is currently fighting to overcome her insecurities to sculpt herself into the person she wants to be instead of what other people demand her to become.