In a society that still sees slim bodies as the standard, being plus-sized remains a challenge, especially when you’re a young woman.
Related: FYI, Fat-Shaming Doesn’t Work
Over the past few years, there has been a push to remove the idea of having a certain kind of body as the goal. From brands to social media companies and everything in between, society is slowly but surely fighting against unrealistic beauty standards. It’s an issue that affects all.
When it comes to weight and being on the heavier side, this is something Anne* knows all too well. As someone who has dealt with being larger compared to her peers since she was young, Anne knows that despite certain changes, there are still people who deem people like her as undesirable. And it doesn’t help that she’s a young woman in her early 20s just starting out in her career.
The following account is Anne’s own words on her journey with her body. You may relate to what she has to say or you won’t. But what matters is that this is the thoughts of how a young woman is making by in a society that still has a ways to go with treating plus sized people better.
*Anne is not her real name.
INSECURITIES WITH MY WEIGHT
I see my body as a way to portray my personality. It’s something that’s mine to do and use as I please. But that doesn’t mean I have questioned why I’m bigger compared to the people around me. I’ve always wondered why I was physically bigger than my sisters, both of whom are on the slim side.
I haven’t been the best person when it comes to my weight since I love food. There were times when I was a kid that I would bring a big bag of chips to school to eat it myself or share with my friends. My portions for meals ranged from having a lot or just a small selection, only to grab a snack after the meal. Unfortunately, it got worse during the pandemic since it became tiring to have the same meals week after week. It’s only been more recently that I’ve been able to control myself more with what I eat.
When I’m in crowded spaces, I’ve always tried to squeeze myself as much as I can to the farthest corner so people would have space to sit or move around me. In terms of what I wear, I try to dress as modestly and comfortably as I can. But, because of my size, there are things that I still can’t bring myself to wear in public like shorts or strapless tops. I’m just not ready for it yet.
IT’S NOT EASY BEING PLUS-SIZED
When I hear that phrase, plus size, what comes to mind is clothes that can actually fit me and are not tight, but comfortable. Extended sizes for the bigger and curvy girls and boys. And that is something that is, sadly, hard to find and harder to appreciate in the country. Especially when you are a woman, it’s harder being plus sized. It’s harder to find clothes, for one thing.
For women my age, I try to be more selective with my clothing because plus-size clothes are a hit-or-miss; it’s either you can look your age, or you look like you’re pregnant. Generally however, I’d say that it’s harder to be a woman than a man. Women experience a more drastic change in their bodies than males. Now I’m not denying or invalidating that plus size men don’t go through their own struggles because they do. Certain sectors of society still uphold that men should meet certain masculine standards and if they don’t, they aren’t “real men”. But based on my own experiences and what I can see in society, women just have it unnecessarily harder.
It’s honestly annoying when people comment on my body, mostly. When people talk about my weight/body in a negative light like ‘parang tumaba ka, ah’ or ‘gaganda ka kung pumayat ka’, it gets old really quick, especially since I’ve been hearing it ever since I was a kid. I try my best to understand where they’re coming from, but at most, it just does more harm than good. Plus sized people don’t need constant reminder that their big because we already know that.
BEING FAT-SHAMMED FOR THE DUMBEST THINGS
While I don’t appreciate the comments, what’s worse is when I get body-shammed, or should I say fat-shammed. Because when people say that I’m overweight or obese, it’s not pertaining to my health or well-being. They’re talking about how I look and my appearance. I remember being fat-shamed when I was a teenager and by a teacher. Though I’m not a stranger to getting teased or poked about my size when I was in school, I broke down during prom — of all things! I was sanctioned by our disciplinary officer because the clothes that I wore were too “revealing.” (Which was funny since I was covered from head to toe with long sleeves).
I simply accepted that I was getting sanctioned since I knew it from the moment I entered the venue. But what brought me to tears was while the officer and I were talking about the sanction, my high school principal walked up, brought her camera over the top of my head and took a picture of my chest. After that night, I didn’t even want to leave the house because of what happened. My family wrote to the disciplinary officer regarding my sanctions because they were rightfully angry about what happened. They also found out that the girls who got sanctions as well were similar to my size. They never gave us a reply, nor an apology.
It took almost two years before I became comfortable with my body again. I had this amazing support system made up of my loved ones; my family, and my friends who made me love my body again.
Seeing how society is filled with so many images and messages of how being slim or being a certain weight made me wish that there was more body diversity. And not just of people with bigger or smaller body sizes, but showing off what bodies really are – riddled with flaws, like cellulite, stretch marks, body hair and many more. This is the body standard that we should all look up to and love. The images we usually see of slim and overly beautiful bodies sets an unrealistic body standard. It can lead to problems like eating disorders, having lost self-esteem, and mental health problems.
Over the past few years, there has been a push for body positivity. And when I say body positivity, it means accepting all kinds of sizes. It means celebrating women and men who are big and curvy, skinny and flat chested, and everything in between. And honestly, it’s about time to get represented and to show that our bodies, no matter what they look like or what size they are, are still beautiful!
I personally see a body positive mindset as a good thing. It makes me feel more confident about myself. Having this mindset makes me appreciate and love whatever flaws I have. It also pushes me more to do what I need to do in order to be more confident in myself and become healthier.
MORE THAN JUST BEING LAZY
Now, some people might say that being body positive is just an excuse to be lazy and not get healthy. I don’t think it’s an excuse. There are some individuals who can’t get bigger even when they exercise or eat less, and vice versa. There are also external factors that hinder you from doing so. And sometimes, you don’t have the capability to do so. It’s just that when you hear criticisms like this, it goes back to enforcing the idea that slimmer or achieving a certain body type is better, which shouldn’t be the goal.
However, with that being said, we are still responsible to take care of our body; that means eating healthy, getting exercise, and having a healthy mind-set about what we look like. Accepting your body doesn’t excuse you from letting your physical and mental health deteriorate.
THE INTRICACIES OF WEIGHT LOSS
When it comes to diets, losing weight, and all that, it’s a hit or miss on diets for me. But exercise really helps out a lot! I try to do 20-30 minutes of exercise every day and eat meals that seldom have meat (one dish with meat every day, and one cheat day per week!)
In terms of diet and exercise, I think people, especially those who aren’t on the heavier set, should realize that there’s more to it than just the effort of the person. I believe that it’s a combined effort between the individual and the people who are supporting them in their journey to lose weight/accept their body. Getting that support really helps a lot. It makes you realize that you’re not just doing it for yourself, but you’re also doing it so you can spend more time with the people you love.
I’d like to see people pick each other up, build their confidence, and help them towards their goal without any ridicule or taunt. I’d like to see more options in terms of clothing for both male and female body types. And lastly, I’d like to see us continue to challenge unrealistic body standards.
I also want people to know that sometimes, it’s just easier said than done. There are so many factors when it comes to dealing with one’s weight and everything that is associated with it. So, side comments and unsolicited advice aren’t it. Plus sized people aren’t a one size fit all kind of deal.
Knowing that people are becoming more and more accepting of their bodies and practicing self-love makes me feel hopeful. I hope more people will be more mindful with what they say about others’ appearances and show genuine love and effort in helping to build their confidence back.