From the time I was growing up until now, I have never considered my self-esteem to be sky-high.
Family gatherings and reunion dinners were one of my worst nightmares, with relatives commenting on my physique first, whenever they saw me. They probably meant well, but they had no idea that their words were like cannons, shooting at the already crumbling wall which was my self-esteem.
Come puberty, my lumps gradually turned into curves, but I was still ashamed of them. I was ashamed of having bigger breasts than other girls my age and resorted to hunching my back to hide the flowering buds. Eventually, I developed chest pains as my ribs stabbed into my soft tissues, and very nearly into my heart.
“You’re very lucky, the fats surrounding your heart saved your life, otherwise you might have sustained some serious injuries over time,” said my astonished doctor.
That was the first time I grew to appreciate my fats and see them in a positive light. I was still terribly self-conscious about my appearance, though not so much about my body shape this time, it was the pesky teenage acne, thanks to the fluctuating hormones.
Nicknamed “The Ugliest Girl in the World” by the boys in my class when I entered high school, I loathed school and spent most of my time in solitude – with my books and morbid thoughts. Sometimes I would wake up punching the wall in tears as I saw myself as an utterly useless being, who was stupid, ugly and fat.
It was around this time that I decided to stop wallowing in self-pity and make some changes to my lifestyle. Ironically, it was Victoria Secret model workout videos on YouTube that sparked my interest in exercising and keeping myself fit. I knew that I would not look like the supermodels I saw in the videos, but my aim was just to be in my best form and live healthier.
True enough, the hard work paid off and I lost the excess weight within three months, growing into my defined curves. Even though I was at my peak, I was still terribly insecure and easily affected by what others said. Most of the comments I received were mainly positive, but being a mesomorph, it also meant that I had bulked up a bit around my shoulders.
“You might want to stop working out, you look like a hulk with the broad, muscular shoulders and all,” one of my close friends commented.
Butt-hurt by her comments, I stopped working out and went back to my junk food lifestyle. I told everyone around me that I wanted to gain weight so that my body would look more balanced. Honestly, I was just depressed and threw in the towel because I thought that I would never be that slim Asian chick, just like everyone else.
That was until one of my friends shared with me a body transformation video on Facebook of formerly obese people, who were now ripped and fit. I also learnt that there was nothing wrong with standing out from the crowd.
In fact, why should I blend in or attempt to when I have something different to bring to the table? There was nothing wrong with being different, the only thing that was wrong was my narrow ideas about the human body, as well as the self-loathing.
Gradually I began to start loving myself more, be it my curves or my acne scars, because it makes me unique. Nowadays, I live a healthier lifestyle because I want to, and not because of what others say.
Each individual experience on any number of social media platforms varies wildly, just as people experience life differently. For me, I took away a positive outlook from the interactions I had and the growth these platforms allowed me – it’s not something everyone may face, but it’s how it worked out for me.
I have spent too much time hiding in the past, now it’s time to live life according to my own rules and expectations – not society’s or someone else’s. So, thank you social media, for bringing a tortoise out of her shell and making her realize she is truly special in her own way.
Words by Amelia Lim
IG – @crazytrollgirl
Art by Serena Chen
IG – @sa.cdesign