I Grew Up a Fat Kid – My Body Image Struggles

March 8, 2018

Dear Readers,

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY!

As women, we all share the same common insecurities. For instance, most of us are never satisfied with our body; the shape of our bodies seem to be the greatest source of our insecurities. BUT IT SHOULD NEVER BE THAT WAY. In fact our bodies should be the source of our strength. Our bodies can give birth. Our bodies have its purpose. Our bodies are strong… and you should never be ashamed of it.

We all have our own unique body shapes and sizes. You can’t compare an apple to a pear – so why are you comparing your body to that of someone else?

You are inherently unique.

The perfect body doesn’t exist”. That’s a phrase you probably had heard plenty of times… but that phrase is so true. When it comes to body image, I find that women are more critical about how their bodies look than men are. There is this growing stigma of women trying to perfect themselves through any means – healthy or not. This struggle of achieving “the perfect body” has led to mental illness and unhealthy behaviours such as dangerous diets. Women had been characterized to be skinny, but skinny doesn’t mean healthy.

I promote healthy body perceptions. I want all women from all age groups to understand that their bodies are unique and beautiful. Having a healthy body perception means a healthy mental state. Women must empower each other towards being healthy, both physically and mentally. We should empower each other to be healthier – NOT to look “good” but more towards doing our bodies “good”.

I used to be a fat kid. How I improved my body image, started with my drive to live a healthier lifestyle.

I grew up fat. As a fat kid, I grew up being the main target for bullies in kindergarten. As I aged, the bullies from my past stayed within me. I went through junior high with an attitude, driven by my sole desire to fit in and be accepted. Then, when high school came around I finally had a chance to be different (I went to a dominant “white” school, wherein only 10% of the students in my grade were Asians). Although I stood out due to my race, my appearance was still not like the other girls in my grade. They were all Barbies. A living, breathing array of perfect girls – with pretty blonde hair, and beautiful blue eyes. Not to mention, these girls were fit and had “model-like” bodies. I had no chance of being that girl whom all the boys wanted. Thus, I became your typical high school snob. You know, that one cocky kid with an attitude but really has nothing else to back it up… yeah… that was me.

Now that I think about it… I was an awkward teenager. I wasn’t like the girls my age, due to the simple fact that I was a little bigger than them. Back then, my body shape really impacted how I saw myself. I didn’t have enough confidence… I felt isolated… I didn’t feel like I was the person I wanted to be.

I envied other girls who were skinnier than me. I wanted to have a body like them. Regardless of how hard I tried to fit in, I still stood out like a sore thumb. I was really, really, really different. (Or I thought I was….. out of place) So, I went on to high school accepting my difference. I embraced the fat kid in me, and continued to play my part in the minority.

I had lots of insecurities due to the fact that my body was different. I had lots of hatred towards how my body was shaped… I doubted myself too much… I didn’t like how my waist was too big… and I hated how my legs were too thick… worst of all, I hated my big belly. 

All these insecurities that I had gone through as a teenager, were mostly derived from my weight and body size.

This was me before:

ONE DAY I HAD ENOUGH OF IT

The way I fought my battle against “body image” is through improving my body the healthy way. I decided to change the things I disliked, when I knew that the change itself is achievable. That’s when I decided to hit they gym and eat healthier. My lifestyle today is shaped because of my body struggles. My personal “body image” has improved because I changed the way I viewed and lived my life. I’m more confident now, because I made a decision to become a better version of myself.

This is me now:

To change my “body image” and to remove my insecurities, I made a personal promise to myself that I will take better care of my body and live a healthy lifestyle. I started waking up earlier to go to the gym, I started eating more vegetables, and I slowly started to understand that my body is different in a beautiful way. As the days passed, my body was starting to look the way I wanted it to be. Most importantly, I was feeling better than I’ve ever had before.

However, there are still times wherein I find myself too critical of my new and improved body… despite all the progress I made, somehow I’m still insecure.

Even though I’ve gone a long way from who I was before, there are still times wherein I’m not happy about my body. For some reason, I’m still not satisfied of my body even though my body’s changes are noticeable – my followers often comment “goals” on my body pictures in Instagram, but that doesn’t really mean much for me since I’m overcoming my own personal mental struggles. There are times, wherein I still feel like there are so much more work I need to do, and more things I need to change – and no matter how much “likes”, “comments” and “support” I get from my audience, I still feel like it’s not enough.

THEN I REALIZED THIS:

I will never have the perfect body for OTHERS, but I can make my body perfect enough for ME.

The key to a healthy body image, is to love yourself more than anyone else does. In this world, it is close to impossible to please every single human being… so why waste all your energy on being perfect for others?!?!? You’re way better than you think you’re not – you just need to realize it for yourself.

It takes a lot of mental strength to love yourself, but it’s an inherent aptitude.

When you find yourself in an insecure position about your body OR when your confidence is lacking, I want you to reach deep within yourself and BELIEVE.

You are great! You are beautiful! Your body was made for you! It’s a work of art created just for you… it’s an abstract masterpiece designed just for you! Don’t try to change God’s design – embrace it!!!

Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. We all have different standards and views on beauty, and thus, the perfect “body image” doesn’t exist. Take my story for example. Some would consider my current body as “goals” and “perfect” – but I still don’t see it. I know that my body has its own imperfections, and I EMBRACE IT. Pictures can be deceiving, so don’t compare your body to what you see online, on TV and on the magazines. The curves of your waist, to the size of your booty is beautiful – and you should really, really, really love yourself MORE than anyone else does.

You can shape the way YOU want to be beautiful! If you want an IG model body, then work hard for it! If you can’t learn to embrace yourself, and love everything about your body – then who will?

At the end of the day, your body is yours to care for and love… so give it your all, because a work of art needs to be appreciated, not hidden.

I hope this message empowers you. It is International Women’s Day today, and I wanted to share a post that would uplift us all. We’re all beautiful and if we continue to lift each other up, the world would become 100 times stronger and unified than it is today. Don’t let the hate, negativity, and envy drag you down. Lift yourself up and believe in your own worth.

You are simply, amazing.

A personal message to my Readers:

Sorry for my slow blogposts, I’ve been super unmotivated lately… and super tired… plus, I’m about to graduate and I’m focusing so much time on finding a job and doing well in my classes. For now, I’ll try to post at least 3 times a month… but if I can’t keep up, I hope you understand I’m going through a transition in my life.

There are also other personal matters my family is going through at the moment, which I will share with you all once the timing is right.

With love,

Mary Dezleigh Teodosio

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset
Photo by @hzgunner on Instagram

Let’s Protect the Girls of Tomorrow – #MeToo

January 23, 2018

Dear Readers,

The concept of transitioning into an adult, while still having a youthful soul is a scary thought. How can a girl share her creativity in a world that judges and criticizes too much? How can a girl be creative when gender barriers still exists… and for some reason, a boy’s creativity will always prevail over hers? How can a girl be strong enough to voice her truth, when no one seems to care… when no one seems to believe… when no one seems to take a stand. How can a girl be strong enough to conquer all forms of oppressions? How can a girl finally transition into a woman with passion, strength, and ability to empower others with her beautiful mind and heart?

When I was a kid, I had a strong fascination with balloons. This is my homage to the inner child in me – the child who had always believed in the good. The child whose innocence was not tainted by the sad reality that life is difficult – especially if you’re a girl.

Now, I can start this post by discussing the gender wage gap existing in the workforce, or by criticizing the likes of Harvey Weinstein or Donald Trump. I can tell you how much it pains me to know that male privilege exists in our society… how most of the top CEO’s are men, how the glass ceiling exists to target the female population, and how the opportunities for women to grow their careers are not as significant as it is for men. But instead, I want to narrow the vast oppression of women into one specific area: sexual harassment. 

I want to tell you how much I hate seeing women’s talents being ignored unless they’re ready to bare it their all. To be notice by a crowd, a woman not only has to showcase her abilities and talents, she must also be compliant to male orders and directions. A woman with a talent is nothing if she is not ready to bare herself to a man with authority…. to allow herself to be taken sexually… to be harassed in order to reach her dreams. This is the reality that tainted my innocence and pushed me to stand with the women who demands for equality and truth.

When I was kid, someone once told me to, “marry young and obey your husband”.  We brought up our girls to understand that women must be willing to cater to their husband’s needs, and we raised our girls to become “stay at home moms”. We had gone through generations of male dominance and male leadership, without ever questioning their “male” position as a female. Old traditions of teaching young girls to cook, sew, clean, and look beautiful for a man who’ll take care of her financially is outdated. Our society is partially to blame for ignoring all the voices of women who wanted more… for ignoring women who wanted to tell the truth… and for shutting down any woman who wanted to protest against the dominant male figure.

BUT THIS AWFUL REALITY ENDS TODAY. 

In university, I took a Women’s Studies class that had opened my eyes to the vast inequalities that women face compared to men. Women’s Studies made me understand that being a girl is really, really, really fucking hard. We have to work so much harder to get a job, to be creative, to excel in sports, to be noticed solely with our minds and not our bodies, and to be treated as equals of men. Women are more susceptible to domestic violence, sexual assault, harassment, and negative stigmas. Women role models in politics, sports, business, and religion are not as dominant as male role models. Men seem to have the better road in life… while we are forced to climb the highest mountain peaks, in order to reach what most men can easily attain. IT’S REALLY NOT FAIR. 

Sexual harassment is a term that I didn’t associate myself with before, and that is because of fear. I too, am guilty of being uncomfortable with the topic. I too, was oblivious with the topic. I used to be the person who would much rather talk about the latest Instagram trends than to talk about sexual harassment. Now that I think about it, I should had discussed the issue more when I could have… I should had done it for the sake of the next female generations to come.

What do I mean?

Well, I’ve never been sexually harassed before, but I know people who had been. At the time, their stories didn’t make me ache like it aches me now. Their stories didn’t touch me as deep, because I was uncomfortable and had very little knowledge about the topic. After taking a semester of Women’s Studies class, I can now confidently express my opinions about sexual harassment. That class broke my comfort levels and made me realize that if I keep being quiet about all the sexual harassments existing around me… if I choose to be quiet and not spread the voices of women needing to be heard… If I choose to do NOTHING… then I too, am failing at being a woman.

We need to listen to the women who had been hurt. We need to support them and let them understand that we are here for them… fighting with them… and we are here because we want the next generations to understand that they are safe. The next generation of girls needs to be raised knowing what their rights are, and knowing that their rights are protected. The next generation of girls needs to understand that their bodies are not a sexualized item. The next generation of girls deserve to feel like their voices, opinions, and ideas matter. We MUST obliterate sexual harassment now, for the sake of all our future daughters, and their daughters.

Ideally, we must fight against the men who feel entitled to harassing women and placing our bodies in a sexualized manner – we must defend our rights as women to be treated as equals of men. Ideally, the word “sexual harassment” should be an issue most boys get educated about in order for them to treat their future girlfriends and wives with the utmost respect. Most importantly, we must educate our boys about sexual harassment NOW, in order to protect the girls of tomorrow, and to give justice for the women who had suffered sexual harassment or assault.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT – It is real. It is affecting women’s lives. It is an issue we must address.

As a creative individual/blogger, I feel safe knowing that I have a platform that doesn’t need me to succumb to any male input. I have the control over my blog, thus I have the ability and freedom to release whatever creativity, content, stories, posts, or pictures I want to share. IF my freedom as a blogger was ever taken away from me, that would honestly shatter my spirit and destroy any of my desires to keep on writing… I can only imagine what it must had felt like for those creative women to be oppressed by men. That’s like me losing my blog… that’s like me losing my voice. 

Creativity stems dreams.

We all have creativity inside us. We all have dreams. The reason why I stand with the #MeToo movement (movement against sexual assault and harassment) is because of the undignified individuals who are threatening the dreamers from dreaming… thus threatening the dreamer’s creativity and ideas. If we keep on being silent about sexual harassment, how many more girls will have dreams of making it big only to find out that she must take her clothes off first in order to make it BIG… How many more innocent dreamers will we wake up in the nightmare of being raped, just because they really wanted that job they worked so hard to attain… How many more creative thinkers are we going to kill just because their ideas threatened ours… How many more creative minds are we going to ignore just because we’re scared to listen… HOW MANY MORE?

The #MeToo movement inspired this post. I wanted to share with you all my take and my voice against sexual harassment. The photoshoot in which I had the beautiful honour shooting with Jason May, is my abstract view of childhood and adulthood. In the photos below, I symbolize the adult and the balloons represents the little girl I used to be. As a woman, I STILL CARRY THE VOICE OF MY YOUNGER SELF. My younger self was pure and innocent… the little girl in me always believed in the good… and I still believe in that light, which is the goodness triumphing over the bad. As an adult, I will now carry on my younger self’s vision and pass on that light to the next generation… essentially, I’m passing on these balloons to you. I hope that you stand in the light of the good.

Dear Readers, this is the time wherein we really need to listen and to be more accepting. To the men who are standing with us and listening, I applaud you so much. To the women who are voicing their stories to the public, I hope you keep on talking because you have an audience at your feet. To the younger kids who are scared to be creative and to dream… keep on dreaming, someday your dreams will become a reality.

With love,

Mary Dezleigh Teodosio.