Monday, January 9, 2012

The story of a fat girl.

I've never been slim, skinny, or in any way small. No, this isn't one of those lines where I expect someone to disagree and go "no way, you look fine!", or some other reassuring line. I'm not saying I'm obese or handicapped because of my weight either.

Because this isn't a story of how I hate my weight. This is a story of how other people hate it.

I am inherently shy and introverted (not to be confused with being weak, mind), and hence tend to not lash out or yell back at anyone who insults me, but rather keep it tamped down within me. Imagine anger as a big fiery rotating ball of energy, being continuously forced down with a damp towel; which basically describes what I used to do on a daily basis.

Growing up, one particular family member, lets call the person Q, used to really pick on me due to my weight. I'm talking like, whenever I said or did something not to Q's liking, like being clumsy or slow, Q would call me "FAT".

Q didn't actually need a reason for the insults; Q addressed me as "FAT" the way you would call your mom "mommy". Q never relented with the insults, addressing me as "FAT" in front of other relatives, Q's friends, my friends, and in public as well.

I tolerated it for roughly 8 years, until Q left the house. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, finally managing to walk with confidence in my own home and not worry about being addressed as "FAT", and feeling mortified, incompetent, and embarrassed in my own home.

Q wasn't the only family member that had no qualms of insulting me because of my weight. My least favourite uncle, who is himself tubby, as is his wife, once went visiting with us one recent Chinese New Year. When all of us squeezed into the elevator, it started beeping (we were over the max people limit), and he boomed "Uh oh, guess the biggest sized one has to get out eh, Julia?".

Noone ever thought that I cared, just because I so rarely lashed out at Q, so everyone assumed it was ok. More family members started joining in with the habit, with me continuously gritting my teeth, and willfully ignoring that ever-growing ball of fire within me.

I wasn't safe outside of home either.

Close friends in school made jokes about my weight too. One particular close friend used to be fond of saying I was 1km wide, and whenever I ran/jumped/jogged/anything other than walked, there would be a massive earthquake. Some friends that had been over to the house and heard Q addressing me, sometimes called me "FAT" too.

One particularly sad memory I keep trying to repress is one of my old crush that I sat next to in class calling me "FAT" whenever we fought. (This was in primary school, where play fighting was still normal.)

It always stung.

Never once have I been truly able to completely brush it off. Every single time someone called me "FAT" or simply implied it, my face would turn to stone, while I forcefully doused the ball of anger.

I spent a lot of time crying alone at home those years. I had zero self-esteem or confidence. Well, just enough to stop myself from turning to anorexia or bulimia (no big struggle with the latter though, the mere thought of throwing up repulses me), but I completely shut myself off from shopping because I hated having to reach for an "L" instead of an "S".

If by this point, you are thinking of yelling at me to just go on a diet/exercise more/take slimming pills, bear in mind that I've always been trying to lose weight, just with little success. Being chubby as well as naturally big boned (aforementioned horrid uncle has once announced I was built like a man and should bulk up) also did not help matters.

It took a long time, and a difficult internal struggle for me to reach the state of self-confidence I have now. Admittedly, I am still fragile and will probably always be, but I have since forgiven those who have so blatantly hurt me in the past.

This post isn't one to celebrate me getting over those awful years of my life. This is to show how ignorant, rude people can easily destroy someone inside. Emotional abuse is not something that has gotten a lot of attention, simply because it is not easily proven. Less strongwilled people have killed themselves over continuous putdowns from others around them.

It is so easy to let an insult slip from your tongue. It only takes a second to ruin someone's day/week/month depending on their level of confidence. Those dark years of my life have among others, taught me to control my tongue. I truly believe that if you have nothing nice to say, you shouldn't say anything at all.

I want to highlight the struggles faced by those who are fat, handicapped, disfigured, or in any way not compatible with how society wants us to look like. Despite our unattractiveness, we are human and have feelings too, believe it or not.

Sucks that while we are self-consciously trying to blend into society, some will loudly call out our flaws, and others will follow suit. You know that old saying? Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me? It was obviously said by someone who has it all and knows it.

Insults hurt. Its a form of abuse, and like its much more publicized counterpart physical abuse, should also be actively eradicated.

To whoever that has managed to read thus far, I heartily thank and congratulate you for putting up with such a long, emotional rant.

This was not easy to write, and I have wavered over publishing it or not. However, I have grown stronger, but people have not become any less ignorant. Thus, this was meant to be an open message to everyone out there.

The next time you call someone fat/ugly/poor/etc albeit not intending to hurt them, unless that someone is extremely close to you and knows without a shred of doubt that you're joking, you will slowly destroy them.

"By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever hurt his stomach." - Winston Churchill.

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