A trip to the beach on the weekends verified something alarming and reassuring: I am okay with how I look like at the beach.
Like most plump girls, I was terrified of the beach, or rather, not fitting into two-piece swimsuits while lounging at the beach, because that means I’d be wearing a blue or black one-piece swimsuit that would make me look like a whale beside my thinner friends and their really cute bikinis. Not that I want guys to think I am cute; my personal expectation is to look like Kate Upton because… I don’t know. She looks really pretty.
Body issues have been plaguing me from day one because my mom used to be a very small, thin person, and expected me to be the same, among other things. Working as a food/nutrition professional notwithstanding, she had always labelled me as a fat kid. I guess it’s because there were no fat kids in her family, and it came as a shock to her that my dad can pass those “big people” genes to her children. I am nearly thirty, and up until today she would always tell me that I am getting fatter. But then most people are not spared by my mother: she’s disgusted by celebrities getting fatter.
And there was also this stint called all-girls’ high school. We had to conform to the Virgin Mary, or at least look the Velazquez template of the Immaculate Conception: a pretty, white, thin, unquestioning girl who can pull of an all-white ensemble. (Never mind that Mary was actually a poor, young, revolutionary Jewish woman who wouldn’t even look anything like that.) And there was the whole Mean Girls adolescent phase where everyone is mean to each other and everyone should look like Alicia Silverstone or just die. As a chubby girl I had no role models for salvation. I resorted into saving myself the only way I knew how: getting high grades. A 95% in science and math would never make you cool or thin or pretty, but it would make you different. Reading a lot of things would guarantee that you weren’t just the “fat girl.” True, I got the “Nerd of the Year” badge, but I found it to be much, much better than “Fatty 2001.” And heck, I enjoyed it.
In college, friends saved me and made me realize that I am OK with what I have. My friends were also high school nerds (well, everybody in UP were high school nerds), and we’ve decided that we all look ok… until we got to eat lunch in the AS corridors and look at the really pretty girls from the Humanities colleges. We call these people the AS Girls: all the other girls kinda hate them for looking sane and made-up in classes, and boys love them because these guys were the high school nerds who thought they found their “beauty and brains” dream girlfriends. And we kinda wanted to be recognized like that, because people in my university are usually too competitive on everything - huh, we share the same GPA but you can pose in a swimsuit in your club’s flyers or cosplay Rinoa, TOTALLY UNFAIR, AS GIRLS. I was pretty hard on myself on being average-looking and plump, that I worn it as a badge: “yes I am ugly and fat, but I got into UP like you, so suck it.” Even though I lost so much weight back then, and can could actually make myself prettier and can actually fit in a bikini. Instead of going further with relationships, I shut those crushes out because I felt like I was too horrible to be considered as a girlfriend.
I felt really ugly, guys. Even when I got into a relationship, there was a lurking fear that somehow everything was all set-up and he would go back to his thin, sorority-member-kinda-ex-girlfriend when he decides to leave me. (Props to The Boy, who never did.)
But then I’ve always been proven wrong. Standards of beauty change over time, and an art/design major like me should expect this. Studying and consuming media throughout these years made me critical of which standards I apply to myself, and made me question if it’s fair, and if it agrees with these fragments of values which I try to patch up to make sense of myself with. Every time my mother comments on my weight or a high school classmate posts a photo of herself in a bikini used to make me hate myself a little, but then these do not register on my patched-up value system and should hold a little or no value to me. There are a lot of things to do, and a lot of important things to think about or read or draw, and I just don’t want to invest my time on obsessing over losing 20 pounds or well-toned arms.
We went to the beach this weekend. It was an overnight trip and until we were on the bus it had a very high probability of being cancelled, thanks to all our schedules being messed up. There were pretty people at the beach, younger people at the beach, and for the first time I didn’t care about not looking like those people. I had fun. I am still horrified by depths, but I love to swim and I made it a point to swim whenever I get the chance. It wasn’t from repeated reassurance from The Boy and my friends (in unison: NO YOU ARE NOT FAT). I think I finally accepted that I look fine. I don’t know, maybe I can shed some more pounds, but I don’t feel so bad about it, or pressured to lose them. Maybe I gave up on myself? But I look nice now, how is that giving up. I really don’t care at this point.
Sharing for those college girls who feel really “meh” about themselves.
Also I will never be a prolific writer, loljk.