Saturday, 25 January 2014

Change for the Better

A recent read made Me decide to write about this matter a little more than just about fashion. The article was written by a woman who had lost weight and how her perception had changed. But above all that, she also realised how people's perception about her changed, and how they behaved towards her had suddenly made a 360 degree change too. Unfortunately for me, I have yet to lose weight. The article titled "What Losing 100 Pounds Taught Me About How We Treat Overweight People", seemed written by someone with a vengeance and I dont blame her. The writer, Jasmin, had lost almost 100 pounds in a year (I am jealous! and now I am looking for this juice diet she did). She soon realised that in general, once she had lost weight, her surroundings changed.

All my life, since I was a child, I have never been thin, slim, normal for that matter. Was a chubby baby. A big girl. And even in high school, I was overweight. But not grotesquely big, not obese. Well, I'd rather not call myself that, though I know some have used that term on me. I have always been that girl with that extra something to hold on to.

It's no fun having to always buy extra meters for fabrics to make clothes. It's no fun having to just search through XL sizes when you walk in a store. Worse when you can only enter stores you know sell only big sizes. It was no fun knowing I couldn't take My mum's hand-me-downs when she is so slim and fashionable. As a teenager, being big was traumatising. Seeing all the slim girls getting all the attention from boys and girls alike. I felt small despite being big.

At one point, I started dressing up like a tomboy. Only because it allowed me to wear baggy clothes and hide that extra fats I had. Fortunately for me, I was an eighties child, where fashion was about being comfortable and everyone was wearing big clothes. But deep down, I wanted to wear pretty clothes and in some ways, look sexy. I always wanted to get attention I know I couldn't. I hung around girls that would do anything just to get attention. Tried to be "cool" and break rules. Skipped school. Smoked and just tried to grow up too fast. All because I hated the way people treated me as a big fat girl. I was envious of those pretty girls who always seems to get the guys. I hated how people would call me baby elephant. I hated how boys only saw me as the other guy, and not a girl.

Things changed as I got little older. I changed. I started enjoying sports. I had always used asthma as an excuse to not do physical ed classes. But I began loving baseball. The closest thing to baseball back in school was softball. I decided to join, and train, and best of all re-acquainted myself with friends that made a difference in my life.

It was through this club that I realised friendship is far more important than making boys notice me. I believe it was also through this club that I discovered my bestfriend. Initially, I was told I was too fat for softball. But I think I got a great coach who believed in me. Of course there were some in the club that weren't too keen on me being in their team. But fortunately for me, there were more supporters than bullies there.

I gained confidence. I started loving myself. And I was just having fun. This feeling continued even into college. Despite being a size 12 then, I never saw myself as the fat one out...I was just being myself and having a great time. And people didn't treat me differently. Yes, there will be some bullies around with all the name-calling. But it never disturbed me as much as it did back in school. They were not important. I even found love and got married.

But things changed after I gave birth. I put on weight like nobody's business. I failed to look after myself and I ballooned up to a size 18. I hated the feeling so much. And I became somewhat of a recluse...I avoided old friends. I changed how I dressed. I didn't socialise. And I was so focused on keeping my then husband happy and doing whatever he wants. I was at my lowest then.

Before my daughter turned 1, my then husband met with an accident. He had fallen off a forklift clipper and crushed his spine. He became paraplegic and required my full attention. I was there for him for his journey to recovery. I even had to put my studies on hold for a whole semester for him. Once I graduated, I had a full time and a part time job so I could support the family. He had to go for physio every other day until he was able to walk again.

We had to move in with my family, as his was in another state. While at work and attending to him, my daughter was in my mother's care. For over a year, we lived this way. Unfortunately for me, he was never grateful. He became bitter. Treated himself like an outsider with my parents. Accused my parents of looking down at him and family because they came from the "kampung". We started fighting a lot. Worse when he'd start the fight in front of our daughter. He even asked me to stop working. And it slowly struck me how I had given up so much for him.

Anyway, to make this long story short, I asked for a divorce, and started focusing back on myself. At this point, I was almost a size 20. Yeah, some would go through stress and lose weight. I somehow managed to just keep gaining.

In order to lose weight, I tried so many things. I started taking this laxative-kind of tea. Slimming tea so they call it. Major horror story that was. I even took pills.

At the same time I chose to leave the very "government-like" Malay culture of a job, and applied for work that I have always wanted to do. Being an art director in advertising. Back in that "government" job, I was treated badly. Typically, men would never hold the door for you, nor want you seated next to them at lunch. They would make fat jokes whenever possible. I hated the environment. I hated how they choose to make me feel, against how they would treat women they find appealing. As a divorcee, you start seeing all this again. When I was married, I had put out that shield that says, "Who cares! I am married and only my husband matters".

So, when I got my divorce, I knew I had to change. I also found a diet that worked for me - Atkins. I avoided carbo, and lost a good 18kg. But of course, I was also in and out of the gym every other day. Lucky I had my bestfriend working nearby. That motivated the gym trips as we would go together always.

But yeah, people behaved differently soon after. Even though I was still overweight, it wasn't like I was obese. I had extra meat. I prefer to say I had more curves than the skinnies. But I was proportionate! hahahah!!

I chose to ignore the bullies. I started dressing well, and learned that it is a matter of how I carried myself. I started caring about my appearance. I began wearing make-up. Learned tips on how to make myself look slimmer. At the same time continued dieting. I was a hot single mother I would say. I was dating again. I had a good life. Despite not getting a single cent from the divorce and having to be my daughter's sole provider, I was doing ok.

Then work got in the way. Advertising is a crazy industry. Trust me, it's not glamorous as how some would perceived it to be. I just needed to make more money to support my daughter and so I lost focus of looking after myself. As my daughter got older, more money was needed. And so I enslaved myself into work, and gained weight again. I was not eating properly, nor eating at the right time.

I hardly had time for myself, let alone for my daughter. I was forced to work odd hours and even sacrificing my weekends. When the offer came to leave agency life, I took it with open arms, thinking how lucky I was. But what really happened was, I left the lion's den only to enter the dragon's cave!

I was back in a very Malay culture. I am Malay, but I can never resonate with the community's way of thinking. The fat bullies returned. Name-calling came back to haunt me. Men would say nasty stuff to make it clear to me that fat women were not accepted in social situations. They will say it too clearly that unless I am thin, I am not welcomed. Stupid things like their car cant hold my weight to avoid giving me a ride. They will say things like I alone will fill up a photo. I really do hate this situation. I hate that they have no care about how I felt. I did sulk a bit before. In fact, I have been called a racist to my own kind. But I don't care anymore. I've come to an age where all I should care about is making money for my daughter and feeling good about myself. I choose to now ignore those bigots. I dress however I like - yes, skirts and dresses are frowned upon by the people around me at work. But now I say, WHO CARES!

This is why I chose to start this blog. To share my experience and to help where possible. I am not a shrink nor a psychologist, but I can help you dress better to make yourself feel good. I chose to be happy. I cant change how people think of fat people. But I can change how they see me. Recently, I got complimented for my looks by the same fool that made fun of my size...may just be 1 person, but it's a start.

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