Project Skin Deep

Share Your Body Image Stories

These stories were submitted as part of a 2011 project aimed at empowering teenagers through an awareness of body image issues.

Your Stories...

  1. Bad Hair Life

    September 24, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    My focus is primarily my hair. It’s very, very, curly, extremely curly, in fact. When I was younger my hair was straighter, but when I got to secondary school is began to curl uncontrollably.

    Throughout my last year of secondary school, I chemically straightened my hair so many times that it became damaged and even lost its dark, rich color. I was never satisfied with why my hair wouldn’t be straight like others. I would use flat irons, blowdrying, products, everything. Sometimes I’d put on chemical straighteners and sit in pain while my scalp burned from the solution, but I endured it because I knew the emotional pain of having curly hair was far worse.

    I would often go for weeks on end, sometimes a month, without shampooing my hair (because it dries it out and makes it curlier). When I’d get out of the shower, which I would only condition and do maybe once a week, I would load my hair up with mousse, brush it down into the correct position, and wait anywhere from 4 to 5 hours with wet hair for the mousse to harden completely into rock, where I would brush it out and have artificially looking straightness. Often times I would refrain from going to school because of the way my hair looked. I was just never happy about how I looked.

    I’m still tortured by this. This condition is completely debilitating, and it has controlled and ruined my life. I feel like I’m trapped in my own body. I can’t stand the sight of myself. I truly do hate myself, as I want to be a musician so badly but I lack the confidence because of my hair. It literally determines my mood in full – and I feel worse about it because the only person stopping me from achieving my dreams is myself. This only furthers my extreme self-loathing. I don’t know why I took the time to write this. Even if it doesn’t get read, I just had to get it out. Oh well.

  2. Emily

    September 29, 2009 at 1:46 pm


    When I was in Primary Three I was placed into the Trim and Fit Club because I was borderline overweight (110%). The problem with being specifically identified and categorized as a fat person at such a young age was that it generated a deep sense of embarrassment about the whole affair, which almost always leads to a self-consciousness that one cannot shake off. The topic came with social stigma and carried a sensitivity even nine year olds could instinctively understand, so the general inclination of all the classmates was to politely avoid mentioning the issue at all. There would almost always be an awkward silence when the topic was brought up, especially if it happened in front of someone who was part of the club.

    At the start of school years the school had the tendency to announce the names of all the people who needed to attend the TAF Club over the PA system along with the details of the program, so it became a very public embarrassment as well, like a secret that one cannot hide, and it made me feel awful about myself. I used to wonder what my other classmates of normal weight thought about us fat lot of people when the announcement came on. I was afraid they pitied me or felt any such emotion; I didn’t want them to feel anything about it at all, wanted them to be apathetic and indifferent because I wanted the embarrassment to fade, and if they were utterly uncaring then the program could feel more insignificant. I wanted them to be deaf whenever teachers had to bring up the topic, so that the damage caused by the program would be known only to me and no one else, so that they would never need to know that there was such a serious flaw about me that needed to be publicly corrected.

    TAF Club was usually held during recess or after school, and it took up a lot of what was supposed to be our free time. While the rest of our friends would be off playing or talking, we would be forced to do exercise elsewhere. I resented it so much – I could hardly bear being seen going to or leaving TAF Club and I would inevitably look warily around to ensure that no one who knew me could see me before making a very hasty exit. Once, it was brought up that we also wanted our recess time, and the teacher actually had the gall to reply that we should not be having recesses because if we continued eating we’d grow even fatter than we already are. It felt like unrelenting pressure, and although ignoring the problem wasn’t going to make it go away, only by forcing oneself to not pay attention to these comments could one move on.

    The teachers who were involved in the TAF Club were generally the PE teachers, and being ft themselves they had very little patience and tolerance for people who were overweight… possibly because the concept of it was foreign to them. Some of them obviously looked down on us. They had sharp and unforgiving tongues and would openly critique the portions of our body that needed to be rectified, like the flabby stomach or those thunder thighs. It is surprising, actually, that students appeared to possess more tact than the teachers.

    Because of all the critiquing, and the constant bizarre implications that we shouldn’t eat (eg. taking away our recess), I went through a short period of anorexia some time during primary four by skipping meals whenever I could. Thankfully, the anorexia never got to the point where it became truly dangerous to me because my parents were firm believers of having dinner with the family, so no matter how many breakfasts or lunches I escaped from, I always had at least one meal a day as dinner was mandatory. I didn’t, however, manage to escape totally unharmed from that ill-fated dieting attempt – my digestive system was shot through because of the irregularity of my meals, and I suffered a series of rather serious stomach cramps which alerted my parents to the fact that there was a problem. I was found out and was made to readjust my eating patterns, although the weak gastric system has continued on even till this day, and slight changes such as eating dinner at 8 pm instead of 7 causes immediate havoc in my stomach.

    I have friends who went in the other direction – binge eating. They were suffocating on all the criticism and their self-esteem was almost non-existent, so they turned to comfort food to soothe the pain they felt. Obviously, that only exacerbated the problem, and therein lay the crux of the awfulness of this entire affair – a vicious cycle of self- loathing and helplessness that eased only in moments where favours in their mouths could distract them. It is one of the most degrading experiences of my life, and having it happen at age nine and continue until I was twelve meant that my self-esteem never recovered – indeed, although I constantly remained in the 110-120% and was hence less fat than other members (a fact which I took immense, selfish comfort from), I also never managed to break free of the club in my primary school days, and the memory of it still resurfaces at certain moments to cause a rather debilitating sense of sadness.

  3. Jeanette Mok, 21.

    October 13, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    “I wish I was 1.6 m at least,” I told myself every other day as a child. My parents fed me Appeton growth pills, milk and food filled with calcium to help me grow taller. Being the shortest amongst most people always affected a part of me secretly. No one knew. It made me feel like the tiniest and most useless person around. Bombarded with tall people around me didn’t help curb my low self esteem much. Neither did my fast growing brothers help me in accepting my height as a fact. My brothers always towered over me with confidence while I curled up in one corner like a mouse.

    As if my height didn’t make me feel horrible about myself, I was putting on weight like a sponge absorbing water. I hated my body as a growing child though friends would always try to convince me that I was of acceptable size. Ironically, they were of the perfect height and fit in my eyes which made me feel worse about myself. I avoided watching television programs in fear of being bombarded with slender and tall female characters portrayed by the media, especially the fashion industry where size 0 was the “It” size. To think that growing up as a child is supposed to be a no-worry process. It definitely proved different for me.

    However, I told myself that I had to accept my vertically-challenged body someday. I enrolled in gymnastic lessons when I was in primary school and subsequently moved into swimming and netball. These were the areas where I actually started to feel good about myself. I excelled in swimming, emerging Overall Individual Champion in Primary Six during the Annual Swimming Meet at my school alone with 10 other trophies from external swimming competitions. My petite fit proved an advantage when I represented my secondary school in Netball which earned my 2 trophies from school competitions. My contribution saw me leading my team as Netball Team Captain in 2002.

    As I grew up, I did not let my not-so-perfect body stop me from excelling in other areas where looks were not of utmost importance. I wanted to lead as an individual and not just follow what people do. I took up positions from class chairman, school prefect to camp instructor while I studied. Being able to lead made me accept my body size gradually. It showed me that an individual need not have looks to excel.

    The perfect body definitely earns you admiration and envy but it only gets you so far. However, above all, character, self confidence and individualism are the key factors to leading a fulfilling and successful life. Besides, looks does not last forever because we all age eventually.

  4. Sha Najak

    October 13, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Primary school. Long skirts below the knee and short-kept hair. He was teasing me and I chased him into the boys’ toilet. He had a wide smile and spiky brown hair. His skin is golden brown. Girls adored him, fighting for his attention. I did too. I didn’t say anything but I chased him to the toilet to show him I was different from the other girls who wouldn’t go that far for his attention. He liked to tease me and that was all there was to it.

    Secondary school. I was told to go for fitness club. I was overweight. We did runs after school and there would be others giggling at our directions. Fat is not accepted in this school. My best friend is the most popular kid in school. The guys I had a crush on would rather date her. She’d tell me her problems. We’d hang out at her home too. She boasted of having moments with boys in the classroom. Our last year together. She told me of the abortion. I had short hair still.

    I was in my early twenties when I met him through friends. I had grown my hair long and put on nice clothes. I’ve been attracting the men. Made me feel better about my size. I felt better and my self-esteem regarding my weight got better. Looking up to their eyes, I did not feel anything when he first rejected me. He who thought it might have been good together. He was seen in the presence of others. I had looked for him in others and I got tired of searching without finding him.

    One part of my body that made me self-conscious of myself was my heart. Inwardly, this heart is so vulnerable and it led me to feel the emotional rides I don’t wish to feel anymore. It was painful and I couldn’t stop thinking of what I should have done. I blamed a lot of those empty moments experienced on me and I cannot resolve or accept that it’s happened. I cried too much and I wished I didn’t have to waste the time in the first place. I felt angry and it is growing inside with little externalising or processing. I’ve come to a stagnant monotonous period of deprived self-gratification or empathy on others.

    If I could have changed any part of me, I’d change this heart because I let those guys affect how I felt about myself as a woman. I’d change these ideas to care for my soul more and not abuse it. I’d change those moments and stood up to him for myself. I’d sell this protest to the first person who’d buy it.

  5. Isabelle Anna

    October 14, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    It’s midnight. it’s Paris fashion week and I’ve gone through about
    (and this is a modest estimate) 200 runway snaps of girls with their
    impossibly narrow waists and arms like sticks and legs that never seem
    to end, ever. They’re beautiful. Out of this world. Perfect. I want to
    be perfect. I will never rest, nor be happy, until I am perfect.

    It’s a difficult balance, this. The pursuit of happiness. Being happy
    versus chasing after something you think would make you happy.
    Sometimes I think the preoccupation with the latter cancels out the
    potential to be truly contented with life. Stop, they say, stop and
    smell the flowers. And I’d think, okay. Just let me find prettier
    flowers first. Nothing is ever good enough. It is this aversion to
    mediocrity that chagrins me to no end, especially if these
    shortcomings are manifest in my own self.

    I used to think I was capable of being more discerning, more rational,
    that I would never buy into a culture built upon the way things look.
    The fashion industry, Hollywood, the media -they make it look so easy
    to be beautiful. It makes me question myself -why am I not beautiful?
    These ideals reel you in until it forms an obsession. Superficiality
    grabs and traps you in a way that forces you into an entirely
    different perspective. You are forced to apprehend the giant flaw that
    is your body. You start to notice things you’ve never minded: the way
    the fabric of your dress stretches painfully over your stomach, the
    way your thighs graze each other when you walk, the way your head
    feels heavy from the weight of your cheeks. Worse still -you realize
    your friends are beautiful too. They’re pocket-sized and cute and draw
    the boys with every toss of their flowing manes. Next to them I am

    It comes and goes. Some days it’s easier to let go and take a break
    from mentally counting calories, from the hollow despair that entails
    an entire week of fasting. Some days I want pancakes and milkshakes
    and pies. Those days are happy. I am content to spend each day having
    three proper meals and a cup (or two) of Starbucks to boot. Some days
    it’s easier to repress those insecurities and carry on with life. It
    goes on for a while. And then something will inevitably snap and I
    will, again, be left with the fragments of my self-esteem. The cycle
    never ends.

    I fainted yesterday. I told everyone I was sick, that it was the
    weather, that it was all the steps I had to climb to get to class. But
    the truth was that I haven’t been eating. I haven’t been eating for a
    while now and it’s beginning to take its toll. Is it worth it? I will
    never know, because it will never be enough, I will never be thin or
    beautiful enough. It is, however (and this I verily concede)
    undeniably stupid.

    Starving. It’s exhausting. I am prone to debilitating self-pity and
    anger and these channels outwards toward the people I care about. It
    drives them away. I wouldn’t fault them for it, I wouldn’t want to
    mess with a temperamental basketcase either. This, it’s not healthy.
    How can it be? I have lost about 4kilos so far, from my latest crash
    diet. It will never be enough, but when will it end? After I have lost
    another 4? After that -then what? When do I know it is enough? When
    will I ever start to believe that I can be beautiful?

    I’m having a sandwich, saying a prayer and sleeping in 15 minutes.
    This insanity has to stop. I’ll make this work oh my god for the life
    of me I’ll make this work. I’m 19 and stupid is rarely so cute on
    someone so old.

    I’ll be okay come next week. I think it’s just weird hits of nostalgia
    and crazy that make me want to find feelings I haven’t felt in awhile.
    This skinny fat thing will never stop, I cannot handle this now, I’ll
    keep it on a backburner and I’ll deal with you sometime soon my
    friend, sandwich first now.

  6. Donna-mae Therese, 19

    October 14, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    She looked past her arms to the stained bedsheets which told stories of her hurt. with her bleeding limbs held out before her like an offering to a Higher Power, she wept into her pillow.

    Lit by nothing but the moonlight and dull streetlamps peeking in through the gaps in her drapes, she could not see the extent of her anguish. still in abit of a daze, she rose from her bed to turn on the light.

    What came at first as shock, quickly morphed into an unmistakable horror. the sheets a bright red, her heart a deep blue.

    She looked down to her arms and legs and fell weak immediately. unsure of what to do next, she moved in a state of complete confusion. “How did i get here? where did it all begin?”

    She rushed about, certain not to make a sound; and once clean and calm, she lay back down.

    There was no real explanation to why she hurt herself. and as she gasped for air under the weight of her secret fears, she felt it would be easier, effortless, if she just disappeared.

    So many things got her down now, she had trouble keeping up. the fact that she was shorter than the rest, the fact that she was “naturally tanned” -as she called it-, the fact that she allowed people to use it as ammunition for mockery so intense it sent her into a downward spiral of pain; she slammed herself daily into a wall of self-loathing and shame.

    Wounds open and bleeding, eyes frightened and crying.

    Something needed to change.

    Nestled in the back of her mind, were solutions she tried to forget. They were too difficult to fight for sometimes. she reached further into the part of her memory that always caught her offguard.

    She felt vulnerable but weightless.

    And this was when she decided that there was nothing that could make her less of a person, less of an equal.

    She had her right to personal freedom.

    There was nothing, no one, no sound. just space enough for her to think and find plausible, if not suitable enough reasons to push aside all future insults thrown in her direction.

    “I’m better than this. and tomorrow, they’ll feel my glow.”

    Two years on and she’s happier than anyone she knows with the idea of ‘self’.
    “That’ll teach them”, she thinks as she marches on, head held high, praising her choice to change and grow.

    Nothing can tear her down now, she has risen above all others and become, as she had always wanted to be, an equal.

  7. HollyG

    October 14, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Eating disorders are everywhere. From the girls on telly to your bestfriend to her mother. The boy next door. The one at the gym. It starts out innocent. It always does.

    Here’s my story. 17 and obsessed with fashion models. I was interning at a magazine and I’d look at skinny after skinny model coming in for castings and I said to myself “that’s what I am gonna look like.” I was 53kgs at that time. The peak of my health and happiness. It soon changed.

    I started by losing 3kgs and got to 50. People told me I looked good but I was not “skinny”… Yet. A month later I dropped 2 more kgs and then I got lots of comments on how great I looked and I had girls coming up to me asking me how I did it. I felt proud and in control. But soon after, I felt like another challenge. “Two more kgs, that’s all I will lose then I’d be perfect”. It started getting harder to lose the weight because my body had come to a plateau. I started exercising every morning, counting every calorie I ate (writing it down in a notebook)- I was crazy since salads and diet coke were all then ever made it down into my stomach and stayed there.

    I started to have these insane moodswings, my hair got thin, palms yellow. I made my family throw anything I might “binge” on away. It was so bad. I never went to dinner with my friends and christmas was a nightmare. I’d binge so much, then spend the rest of the evening throwing up and exercising till my knees hurt. If I’d have 900 calories, I’d literally stay on the machine until I burned 1000 calories. And then think about different “fasts” I could to do “cleans myself”. More like starve myself. I was unwell. Mentally, physically.

    I’d never felt so trapt. By my 18th birthday, I’d then been sick for slightly more than a year, I was at my worst. I got to 43kg’s. I looked, I felt, like death. I was dead. A walking corpse. Lifeless in every aspect. Constantly thinking about the food I wanted but couldn’t eat. Obsessed with the way I looked.

    The routine went on. I hated life. I wanted to “die young stay pretty”. The doctor told me that not having my period for two years was serious. I might never be able to have kids. That scared me.

    But it got to the point I got too weak to go out on some days. My sister, normal healthy loved life and food had friends, a boyfriend. Guys didn’t like me. It then hit me, why should I strive for this unreachble “perfection” when the flaws are sometimes so much better? Well recovery is hard and for eight months now I have been getting better and am fully aware that I am beautiful being me. Not a modified version of me. Just me.

  8. Dhini Devendran

    October 14, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    A positive outlook on body image does not come over night. It does
    not fall from the sky like rain. It does not dawn on us like a bright
    idea flicking the switch to our imaginary light bulbs. In fact, I
    truly believe it is in us to find that positivity.

    I have friends who are all smaller than me they are tiny in
    comparison to me. Next to them I look like the Leaning Tower of Pizza
    or the gentle giant. But I was never the girl who had insecurities.
    In fact, it was my tiny friends who began to have eating disorders,
    who were so negative about their body. I could never understand why.
    I always thought I should be the one saying those things about myself.

    I am a size UK 16. Majority of my friends are a size UK 6, even then
    the clothes are loosely fit. I am the only one amongst them who is a
    UK 16. I would love to tell you how I keep a positive outlook on
    myself, but I myself do not know. Perhaps it is because I respect
    myself enough to give my body what it wants. Depriving myself of that
    is only cruel and unkind punishment.

    You might think that I am positive because of my parents and family
    support. You are gravely mistaken. In fact, if I were to develop an
    eating disorder, it is most likely because of my family and their
    remarks about my size. Every family gathering made awkward by
    grandaunts who constantly remind me that I have gained weight and
    that I have lost my looks, my grand mother who is the least tactful.
    I have 3 sisters out of which 2 of them have Sports Illustrated cover
    worthy bodies. Yet I do not feel pressured or insecure of myself.

    I am not going to lie, there are days when I am in front of the
    mirror after a shower with my stretch marks showing and every inch of
    me exposed and I look at myself and think “ what happened to you?”
    But then I think about it and I realise if even the smallest of my
    friends cannot be happy skinny or slim and no matter what they do are
    ever happy, what difference does it make to deprive myself and still
    not gain happiness?

    In the end there really is no one else that can give us the
    confidence and the positive body image that we want. We have to find
    it in ourselves to be happy for ourselves first and find things in us
    that make us who we are, the things that make our friends stick
    around and be there for us.

  9. AllySan

    October 14, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    It wraps itself around me like a thick coat. A thick coat of oil and sugar mixed up into a swirl of soft sticky flesh. I writhe inside my skin. As if what lay below it were layers of alien tissue un-belonging to my human body. My human body that is so thick with imperfection which in others I see as one of the most beautiful forms of being and yet is so deeply despised by it’s owner; so passionately unwelcomed by it’s host. It’s host who by her own hands and will showed her body’s unwanted masses the entrance, letting them settle under her skin. A conscious mind dictating a phantom limb. Where “stop” is no use and “regret” is a constant after thought. My will weaker or slower than my hands to my mouth.

    Stuffing like cotton into a soft-toy with it’s insides too lacking in substance to hold it’s shape. Stuffing until the cloth would not meet in the center to so that it can be sewn closed. Stuffed up so tight that the thread would not pull it shut. Gaping. Spilling with grief of guilty pleasure driven not by greed but desperation to feed this black hole growing ever larger in the pit of my being. Time and space to fulfill my seemingly hapless dreaming disappearing with one failure after the next. My mind spills out and over my eyes that are too aware that I am without places to hide the evidence, so confidently bulging under my shirt. Spilling out too much so that my mind remaining is shallow. So shallow it holds no life. A constant ebb and flow of the superficial. This hatred because of what is harped on only by the superficial. So proudly taking control like a plague over my bones. It is heavy. It hangs on me. Deadweight. Dead. Weight. It pulls me down. Like forcing my strides, barefoot in an oil slick. Slow and tiring. Yes. I am still moving.

    What I believed was adolescent folly. The useless thoughts of a daft teenage girl. Immaturity. Is what I have come to identify with as my wood and nails. As we all carry. In different shapes, sizes and forms. My wood and nails that remain from journeys ventured on tracks laid out in front of me, the driver reckless and sleeping. Distracted. Tied up in childish whimsy. Never abandoned, the wreckage strapped to my back. To carry. To remember. To be able to differentiate between the mistake and the lesson. To be able to hope to see in myself one day, the most glorious part of humanity. To love myself. For all the ugliness of this flesh and blood.

  10. Tessa

    October 28, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    Well, it’s simple really. I have a double-eyelid (left) and a single-eyelid (right) and this makes my left eye look much bigger than my right. I used to be quite bothered by it and always prayed that my right eyelid would magically transform itself. It was no use and it’s such a hassle doing my eye make up sometimes.

    As I grew older, I realized that my eyes are really…unique. I mean, how many people have a single/double eyelid right?

    Today, I wouldn’t change them for the world. I love my big/small eyes.

  11. Man & Kid

    November 20, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    a story composed of 2 interwoven personal narratives, contributors unnamed:

    “The woman is perfected.
    Her dead
    Body wears the smile of accomplishment.” -Edge, Sylvia Plath

    In school, required to write about a perfect world, I wrote that “our minds would float. They would be light. There would be no heaviness…of the mind or of the body.. We would forget to eat. Nourishment would come in other forms. Walking would be a way of life… the heart would be hollow- able to fill and evict as it pleases.”

    My anorexia turned into bulimia when it got to a point I felt I was losing control. Some poetry:

    Webbed hands
    Shivers down my spine
    Sand in my nails
    I’m a sea creature
    I dive into myself

    I felt immortal and unbeatable. I felt I had a secret weapon- to being thin. I “developed the feeling that [my] body had magical qualities…could do anything- it could walk forever and ever and not get tired, I separated my mind and my body. My mind was tricky but my body was honest. I felt very powerful on account of my body- my only weakness was my mind.” I felt that ‘my body can take anything”.

    I just don’t see/think about it as an eating disorder but rather, lifestyle (thats gets difficult from time to time). Because when I start asking myself “do i have a disorder?” is when I get even more obsessed. But I myself am stuck between “This is normal. I just want to be thin.” Is it really something to worry about? I don’t know. I guess after a while it’s all you know.

    I go through periods where I suddenly get driven to get better/healthy(actually menstruate) because I realize how badly I will want kids but then as soon as the weight shows, I get scared. It all started out with wanting to look a certain way. Control came into the picture. Yeah and knowing I am nothing near perfect, I thought/still think that if I look a certain way, people will also see me differently

    I remember at one point I wanted to be normal again, and we were working on it… but going out with my friends made me realize, it wasn’t possible. But I don’t want to be just “Mediocre”. I want to be the best.

    I’ve been well. I’ve started getting my period as of last month. And my pants are too tight. Which makes me depressed. But the other part of me is OK with it. Probably because of the people I hang out with now. It really has helped. I mean I’m still really vain but I am, I would say, determined to get over my body issue. Because I look at my sister, and she’s so much shorter than me and she weighs more, and people seem to love her. Which makes me think “Maybe I can be like that..” But yeah everyday my mind works different. Some days I still wished I were freezing in heat.

    Pacing up and down the canned food aisle at the overly crowded supermarket this evening, right hand following my feet scrolling right then left then right then left again trying to find something that would wrench my 6 o’clock heart. My left just dangled giving my forearm the task of Shopping Basket Hanger.

    I have this addiction. This obsession. This craving. For feeling. For emotion. That feeling that emotion that pain. That pain. The one that Hurts. That Hurt being my drug of choice. And having realized, for quite a while now, that I, captain of this amazing mind, can create circumstances that in turn would feed that addiction. Emotionally, physically. I can sustain that high.

    Contradict me. I still say I have no vice.”

  12. Anthea Pie

    November 20, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    10 years old. I stood in front of the mirror during Ballet class and stared at my reflection. I winced at terrible pink ensemble I was forced to wear; my wavy hair messily tied up in a bun. Took a look to my left, to my right, perfect little Barbies in sight. Hair brushed neatly, shoelaces hidden away. Chin up, back standing straight. The instructor, lady of poise and elegance passes by, looks at me and says, “Too fat. The boy would never be able to carry you.”

    Suddenly, I am 13 years old. Still standing in front of my reflection, same scenario, different ensemble. Dark blue instead of the garish baby pink, a symbol for ascending grade-wise. To my left, and my right, perfect adolescent Barbies in sight. With their chins up, they stared their eyes down at me and muttered a word new to my ears, “Tomboy”. When everyone else had a problem with me, I was certain I had none. Now I was rendered self-conscious, and small. I didn’t know what that word meant and what I did to secure that title.
    In my 13 year old body, I only knew how to be myself, and at that point it felt like it wasn’t enough. So I did what I thought i should have done a long time ago.
    I quit.

    Then, I am 16. I spent a year putting my ability to conceal my crave for food to the test when I coupled alongside other girls in their quest to reject food. Again with the reflection, this time I stared at myself through foggy glass. Fresh out of the shower, I traced my fingers where bones should have been. I should have felt them, I thought. Enough.
    It was also then that it hit me, girls were scoped mostly for their rear and breasts like a piece of fried chicken in KFC. I sunk deep into degeneration and like a butcher, sliced at the areas I wasn’t pleased with.

    I craved a skeletal system that needed to be the perfect match, if I ever wanted my mind to unite with this body. Although it was liberating to know where I stood on the pathways that divided sexuality in general, it didn’t help me discover my sense of self. I felt exiled.

    18 and I knew so much more. I avoided reflections, and on occasions I looked into them, I stared into my own eyes reflected back at me like it was the first time meeting me. Myself in the reflection. It hit me then, that there was the identity I assumed was missing all my life, but yet I saw now that it was never missing, but slowly blossoming.

    I am not pre or post.
    I am the present; stumbling my way through to the future. And that was Enough.

  13. NPH

    March 12, 2010 at 3:25 am

    I never enjoyed food as a child. As a young child I would rather play and thought food was an inconvenience. My mother would beg me and sometimes bribe me to eat. Needless to say I was a very skinny child and grew up as a very skinny preteen. I also had a very flat nose. My parents were intent that I get a nose job when I was older. They told me this when I was 10 yrs old. They really must have thought I was going to grow up to be an ugly adult.

    Around the age of 12 I started to become more aware of my body and wanted to have breasts and a nice buttocks. I hated my body, especially with the help of my parents. Often in Asian society, negative encouragement gets the job done. How one gets there is not important as just getting there. My parents and friends would chide me and make me cry with names like “Horse Face” because my face was long and skinny. I would never grow into a woman if I was so skinny and never have breasts. I tried and tried to eat but I could not gain weight. I felt desperate and tramatized that I would be the ugly flat chested girl.

    I started sports which added some muscle but still I was too skinny. The only way to gain weight was to gorge myself with food and fall asleep. I needed to slow down my metabolism. The next year, I happily gained 4 kilos and so I did the same the following year and year after that. So now I had the breast and the bootay but the rest of me was not what I wanted. I worked so hard on gaining weight that I forgot about my muscle tone, So now that I was taught to love food, I needed to go on a diet. I made a half attempt to adopt an eating disorder…anorexia? Bulimia? My attempts were failures. It was too hard for me to have an eating disorder. I enjoyed food and hated the thought of puking.

    After Highshool, I was ready for my nose job. It never came. I was devasted. I was told that I could have it after my university studies. I cried and cried and begged and begged.

    At University I did not think I was anything too grand. My breasts were amazing and was everything I dreamed of except that I was in desperate need of body toning. At University, I really came into my own and realized that I was rather brazen and was really funny. I adopted this “I am beautiful” mantra and conducted myself that way… and miraculously it worked. I had men eating out of the palms of my hands. I was not all that pretty but my attitude made pretty. After graduation, my parents offered to pay for my nose job. I declined. They still dont see what I see. I am beautiful bc of who is inside. My flat nose gives me character.

    There are things that I still dont like about myself – want less flabby arms, flatter stomach, etc etc… but I can live with those. I can work on it.. I wont obsess with it. As for my favorite body parts when asked… I always say my hands and my collar bone bc I think they are exquisite. My T&A do very well but its the hands and collar bones that I find real beauty in.

  14. Rosie

    October 6, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    I’ve never been skinny and I never thought it was a problem until I moved to Singapore when I was 10.

    All of a sudden I was overweight & different & had to join a club especially for people like me. The Trim and Fit Club. TAF. Even now using those words and writing them down makes me feel disgusted. And angry. Everyone used to say TAF is just FAT spelt backwards.

    Couldn’t they think of something better to call it?

    Don’t they realise what it does to a person’s self esteem?

    I’m half English, half Singaporean Chinese. It’s hard to be a tiny person when my genes are mixed with big boned, strong, broad shouldered women’s from my dad’s family. They all have bodies and are beautiful but I didn’t realise that until I was older.

    My sister’s always been “the skinny one”. I’ve always been “the big-sized girl” – “wah, your daughter so big-sized one”, “eh, you so big ah?” I hated my legs, my boobs, my body. I never wore skirts, never wore a bra that fit.

    Until I went to university in England. I moved away from the negative criticisms about my body for a bit. I grew up a little more and decided I wasn’t going to let other people tell me how ugly I was. Because I’m not.

    I have boobs and I’m not ashamed of them anymore.

    I still have hang ups about my weight. My weight is sometimes such an issue that I don’t even like telling my mum about it and sometimes feel I can’t do things I love like dancing. But I’m getting a little better about accepting me. Bit by bit. I’d love a flatter tummy and skinnier legs but I love my eyes and my ankles and I love the person I am.

    I am beautiful, I just need to remember it.

  15. Perspective

    September 14, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    I was at a local bar/restaurant that I frequent, and I ended up talking to a waitress. She told me some stories from her life.

    She told me the story of breaking her chin as a child, and about the years of painful corrective surgery she went through because her mother couldn’t stand the idea of “an ugly daughter.” She told me about how she wore painful braces for almost eight years, just to make sure her teeth were perfectly straight. She talked about the on and off diets she’s been put through since childhood because she’s always been “a little too top heavy.” She talked about how her mother insists on pressuring her into a year long tanning subscription to a salon, and how when she comes home and she doesn’t look considerably darker, her family notices, and points it out. She talked about how, after high school, when she went from a size 5 to a size 7, she was told it was now much harder to buy her Christmas presents, because “well, you’ve gained that weight and things just don’t look right on you any more.” She talked about how, whenever she gained weight as a child, her mother would buy candy for her brothers and sisters, and force her to sit and watch them eat it, while receiving nothing.

    For the record, this woman was AT MOST a size 8.

  16. Ugly

    October 7, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    I’ve been on and off the hell ride since 13. I am 22. At 22, I should have finished school, get a good job and start supporting the household. Am I close? No.

    I had a difficult childhood, I grew up with no Daddy. At 7, I am forced to fend for myself. I was scared, but I could not cry. Crying meant I was weak. Crying meant I was needy and I would hold up Mummy’s work. Crying was a no-no. I grew through the years as a seemingly normal child. I had friends, I was happy, I was coping with school work. I always knew there was something different about me. I hated myself immensely. My eyes were slits sitting on a circle, my nose – fat and round, my lips were two fat sausages. I was often teased for it.

    Teasing got really bad when I reached 11. I was in an all girls’ school. The girls in class would mock me about my lips. They would write it in big bold letters on the black board. Soon, everyone around school started staring at me. I am convinced they were laughing behind my back. I felt isolated. Things seemed to stop after a while. Everything seemed okay.

    Until I was placed in the TAF club. My world fell apart. I was fat. Fat, fat, fat. TAF club was for the fat. I am one of them. I’ve never been overweight, not until now. I remember one morning when my name was announced over the PA system. I wanted to dig a hole and bury myself six feet under and stop breathing. I skipped breakfasts, lunches and soon dinners. I got myself out of the fat club and into winter wonderland.

    When GCE O Levels came around, I was majorly stressed out. I was working part time and juggling studying. I wanted to die. There wasn’t anyone to talk to. I stopped eating all together. As my weight dropped, people stopped and stared. Soon, it was all about how much I ate, how much I didn’t eat, how often I ate, what I ate. I ate and ate to stop the stares. I couldn’t handle it. It’s a vicious cycle. I ate, I was full, I felt disgusted. My fingers found its way down my throat and up came all the ghosts that found its way into me. I was clean again.

    It’s been 8 years. My thighs are covered with cuts. Am I better? No. Do I want to get better? Maybe. I am never good enough, no matter how hard I try. I try and try to be the perfect child. But I guess I’ll never be loved. I don’t deserve anything. I still want to die, every single day. I’ve gotten so close, but I am still here. My friends have all left me. My family are strangers. I am so alone. So terribly lonely.

  17. Love Yourself

    November 1, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    “He (a boy I admired at that time) says he will never like someone who is as hairy as you.”

    Ever since I read that on the public blog of a bully five years ago, my insecurities about my hairiness escalated to the point where I would flinch everytime I heard the word ‘hairy’ and where I would avoid walking in front of people sitting on the floor so they wouldn’t stare at my legs. I hated the hair that grew on my skin and I wanted so desperately to wax but my mother was not persuaded.

    I entered an elite girls school 2 years later and by then, I had accepted that I would have to live with the ugly fuzz that covered by arms and legs. Suddenly, I was placed into an environment where I was surrounded by girls who ‘had it all’- brains, brawn and beauty. Sitting on the field in our P.E shorts, I was always painfully aware that my legs were the least appealing among my friends. I was naturally tan and the hair just made me feel so masculine.
    Being in a girls’ school took its toll on me. By secondary 2, I was obsessed with being the ‘perfect’ student and I had in my mind a vision of what I wanted to look like. Since I couldn’t be hairless, I worked on things I could change. I wore braces, started blow-drying my curly hair straight and got into sports.

    For a while, everything was okay but then I started feeling dissatisfied with myself. I was best friends with this petite girl and everyone would always comment on how skinny she was. I was the curvy one at that time and eventually, I started yearning to be called skinny. I also started to observe and judge the legs of girls in my cohort. I remember that when the height and weight list of my class was passed around for us to double check, I noted that my friend who was taller than me was lighter than me. Shortly after, the same friend also achieved better results than me in exams. I was tired of being second best and I think all these contributed to the events that happened next.

    It started off as a simple diet. I educated myself with online diet sites and reading health books and magazines. I was introduced to the world of calories and nutrition profiles. My aim was simple, to get long lean muscles and become ‘moderately underweight’ like so many of the other girls in my class. I started running on top of my cca training and it paid off, the numbers on the weighing scale started dropping.

    I will never forget the thrill and exhilaration that coursed through me when I realised that things were working in my favour. Weight was something I could be the best at because there was a formula for weight loss. Calories burnt>calories consumed. My runs turned into sprints and 5km became 10km. Portions of everything on my plate was reduced and sometimes meals would disappear altogether. I disciplined myself and counted calories; eating required a reason. I stuck to a strict regimen and my aim changed to being the lightest in class and in my cca. I felt a sense of achievement whenever I lost weight and I believed that I would be more attractive if I burnt more fat. Also, being light was associated with being like a typical dainty Asian woman with delicate bones- probably because I kept watching Korean drama serials where the female protagonist was always being carried by the male lead when she fainted. I thought it would be very embarrassing indeed if I were too heavy to be carried bridal style.

    Today, I am a sixteen year old and have been diagnosed with an eating disorder. I definitely want to recover because of my Christian faith- I cannot glorify God in a body that is controlled by sin. Watch me because I’ve had enough of my anorexia stealing my life away and through treatment, I am relearning how to live. I deeply regret not accepting myself as an individual and if I could make a wish, it would be this:

    That nobody should ever have to feel unbeautiful in their childhood and that everyone stop trying to adapt their bodies to a certain ‘ideal’ lifestyle.

  18. Breast-Obsessed

    November 3, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    All my life, I’ve been obsessed about my breasts. Or should I say, my lack of it. It all began when I was about 15 I think, when it suddenly seemed like all my formerly flat-chested friends were suddenly wearing proper bras (not the brightly coloured sports bras that did nothing to boost our assets but were comfortable and perfect for running around in) and donning clothes that flaunted that little hint of – could it be? – cleavage. And the boys seemed to like it.

    I remember all the jokes that I laughed off jovially in public but would remember and repeat every word of to myself when I reached the privacy of my room – “airport runway”, “ironing board”, etc. It didn’t help that I was painfully thin everywhere else as well, so there were always jokes made about other body parts – “toothpick arms”, “chopstick legs”, but none of them hurt more than the comments about my flat chest. I felt that not having breasts made me less attractive, less desirable and less feminine, and I went from covering myself up in huge baggy clothes so no one could tell that I was flat, or wearing massive push-up bras that were uncomfortable but made me feel that bit more confident. Lingerie shopping was always torturous; I remember breaking down and crying in changing rooms because nothing fit well or looked good, and leaving with purchases that only made me feel worse about myself.

    Today, at 22, I’m still as flat-chested and skinny as I was at 15. (I mean it, by the way, I’m between an AA and an A cup.) Until now, I stare at women with great cleavage, and wish fervently that one day I’ll be able to fill my clothes out in that way. I’ve had boyfriends, and each of them has insisted that breasts don’t matter to them, but I’ve always stopped short of fully believing that. I can’t help but feel that if I woke up with B-cups, I’d just look and feel so much better. However, I’ve become more confident about my looks in general, and am now able to laugh my breast woes off most of the time. My coping strategies – I buy multiple pieces of bras that actually do fit and look alright, which saves me the pain and hassle of lingerie shopping, and I save pictures of flat-chested celebrities (Natalie Portman, Keira Knightley, various models) and even some of my friends to use as inspiration when I’m feeling particularly lousy about myself. It helps to also remember that dressing well can trick the eye, and that there are lots of books and websites out there with fashion advice for flat-chested women. It’s not a lost cause; you can still look really good in what you wear!

    One final word I have for all my younger sisters out there – you’re still beautiful. Don’t let the hate get to you, and don’t feel the need to ‘fake it’ just to be accepted. If your friends, or guys, can’t see beyond your breasts, they’re definitely not worth keeping aroumd. Peace!

  19. Fat?

    March 25, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    my focus is my stomach.
    Ive always been a big girl but it never really bothered me until it started to bother other people.

    recently on Facebook i was tagged in a status update by a boy who was a friend of a friend explaining in great details on how fat i was and how it was really bothering him as he had to see me while getting is fast food because i work there, i apparently “put him off his food.” if this wasn’t bad enough i than had multiply people comment on the status up date informing me how fat i actually was.

    this bothered me, i felt i couldn’t be seen in public as it bothered everyone so much. it made me feel that i was getting judged everywhere i went because of what size i was, then;
    a few days afterwards i was late for school and had to get the assistant principal to sign my late form. As i walked into her office i was met by her and a few other staff members, they began to tell me that i was looking rather nice that day and how beautiful i was.

    since than i have got my self confidence back and feel like i CAN actually be seen in really does show that one comment can change the aspect you look on things!