Why “feeling fat” is different

Amidst our mother’s day preparation, my youngest sister was able to unearth an old photo of me when I was in third year high school. Compared to how I am now, I was noticeably thinner back then.


Me in 2011, after my sister’s recognition day

Once she tagged my name on the photo, reactions from my current circle of friends came pouring in. They couldn’t believe I was ever like this, and when they did, it was obvious how they approved more of old Pollen’s body shape. It was a pretty normal reaction, something to be expected once a throwback picture floats back into the current news feed.

Throughout this photo’s short-lived resurfacing, I took no offense to what was happening and to the comments. I didn’t even ask my sister to take down her tag and I didn’t attempt to delete or hide it even once. (But, I have to admit, I did keep checking who reacted on the picture, just to know who has seen it.)

To me, it was a good enough photo, awkward bangs and all.

But still, no matter how seemingly gobsmacked people were of my figure, of how I once looked, I knew in my heart that I don’t want to go back to that point. They saw a slim young lady, a suitable canvas for all the beautiful possibilities of growing up. They saw the thin frame glorified by our generation. And I saw the piggy I felt like back then.

Would you believe the girl in that photo thought she was fat, that she saw herself as a big blockage that had to always get out of the way? Would you believe that she still felt insecure about the other girls her age whom she believed was naturally blessed to be slim (meaning automatically beautiful)?

Maybe not. I may not have looked like a perfect fifteen year old there but, I still looked fit enough.

The problem was, I didn’t see it that way. I felt ugly and in silence, I hated my body because when I looked in the mirror I saw myself differently. I zoomed in on my problem areas and they were every place I saw fat that didn’t exist.

Ask me if I ever remembered being that thin and I would say no, an honest to goodness no. I’ve always carried the weight of my weight whenever I remembered my old school girl days. My stomach has always been unnecessarily excessive and my legs, though I am proud of their tone, have always been dominantly just “big and fat.” I felt too heavy for my own good, and perhaps, that was the reason why it was so easy for me to bring myself down. And for years, I’ve mastered the art of not letting it get to me.

You see, being fat, over-weight, obese, chubby or whatever euphemism you could think of, could not only be a biological battle to speed up your metabolism or burn your fat through exercise. It could also be an internal struggle of accepting who you are no matter what body shape you have.

No matter what happens, when you feel fat and you feel that as a bad thing, no amount of diet and exercise will make you feel that you are good enough. Without a shift in perspective, you would be trapped in that mindset as I was and you’d regret the moments you missed because you were too worried about how fat has disrupted your life.

It took me twenty years to embrace everything I am. It’s not too late.


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