Dear all, I want to ask “ What is the definition of a perfect body?”
I always swipe through social media, seeing all the pretty girls with the perfect smile and perfect body. I wonder if everyone is naturally so perfect?
Many years of my life I was told that I need to lose weight but my BMI (body mass index) is always in the healthy range. This may seem so because I have chubby cheeks, thick thighs and not a flat stomach, ideally this is not the body of the majority of women. Over the years, I allowed myself to be body shamed by people because I felt deserving of it. I just accepted the fact that I am too chubby and I need to lose weight. I always dream of having a thin waist, sharp chin and slim legs.
Throughout the years, I have undergone numerous ‘diet plans’ to achieve the ultimate goal of my life. However, I failed. More than once, throughout my teenage years have I not thought about why couldn’t I be like other girls who were slim and petite. Imagine many nights I cry in my bed because of my body. Even now I am still worried about my body and I just can’t let go of the fact that I can’t be slim. I cried every time I gained weight, or felt guilty after a good meal. I don’t want to be like this anymore, I am tired of hating myself and hating my body.
The first step I could do is to break out of this toxic cycle of self-destruction. I realized how toxic my mind can destroy myself as I let my emotions control me. I self-harmed myself and emotionally abused myself, letting those voices in my head get to me.
I learn that women are constantly being jabbed by society for not meeting unrealistic beauty standards. All this happens due to the stereotypical misconception of gender. In our society, many of the people including both men and women, generally think that women’s bodies are to impress men, and constantly subjected to sexualisation and objectification.
However, this is a product of patriarchy. Society has progressed and women have autonomy on our bodies. All the time being influenced by others, I feel bad for myself for allowing others to control over my body. People judge due to stereotypes and stigmas constructed by the society and it is time for a change.
Besides, I’m dispelling the myth that not all Asians are petite. People generally think that all Asian are smaller in size and come with yellow skin tone. This is not true, people from East Asia are different from West Asia, not to mention also the varying differences with the people from the North and the South. People need to understand that our ancestors come from different backgrounds and evolve into distinctive types of bodies and also skin colour. Diversity is what beauty stands for, all bodies are beautiful in their own way. There is a reason why we have distinctive bodies, it represents our own individuality.
Growing up as a millennial in Malaysia, we are heavily influenced by values and cultures of the Western or developed Asian countries such as Japan and Korea. In which beauty standards around us cater towards favouring fair skin and skinny figures. We need to learn that beauty standards are just the strategy of capitalism and people are blinded to satisfy vanity. There are no absolute standards for all, everyone has their own standard in viewing things. For one thing, we need to understand that we can never please everyone. No matter how you change, there are always people that oppose it. So, why not live for ourselves?
We also need to consider that every individual intersects multiple identity, people shall not impose ideas that do not fit into the situation. We need to recognize that identity does not exist independently of each other, it overlaps. I am a Malaysian girl with Chinese characteristics. My appearance varies drastically from Indian girl or Malay girl but at the same time, we all fall under the Malaysian identity. The identity maker each informs the others, often creating a complex convergence.
Malaysia is located near the equator, being hot and humid throughout the year, the sunny weather isn’t meant for fair skin. On the other hand, due to our multicultural background, we have various types of delicious dishes such as roti canai, nasi lemak and chicken rice. In which, it is hard to resist from the good food. As long as we consume wisely and appropriately, we can eat whatever we like without being judged.
Additionally, people tend to judge and body shaming by saying that “I just care about you.” In which, they indicate their good intentions and we can’t just fight back. Many body shaming is constructed by words like “I just care for your health” and actually people can’t go by the name of caring but shames you in that way. I admit that some do really come with good intentions, and those who really care about us, we could just let them know fat shaming isn’t the way. For those who manipulated it, we can distance ourselves from unsupportive people like this. Everyone has the autonomy of oneself and as long as we are aware, we don’t need a busybody.
Skinny bodies are beautiful so as curvy ones, each of it shines distinctively. I am happy to know that our society is changing for the better. More and more people are embracing the diversity of human bodies, and it is a good sign of improvement.
As long as we ourselves are fine with our body, everything else does not matter.
We need to love ourselves, nothing is perfect. Everyone is born with different features because we are our own person and everyone is unique. We have to remember that no one is replaceable.
The views, opinions and thoughts expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of EMPOWER Malaysia.