Valentine’s Day: celebrating self-love

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For as long as I can remember I hated Valentine’s Day. Seeing all these happy couples doing cheesy things like holding hands and cuddling and girls carrying stuffed animals and giant bags full of gifts made me want to projectile-vomit and cut my eyes out because it felt like too much cheesy romantic things. Also, I didn’t need a reminder that I was single.

This year however I’m experiencing a different sort of emotion about Valentine’s Day. Yeah sure there’ll be the usual barrage of annoying couples doing annoying stuff(ugh), but somehow this month I’ve been reflecting on the many events I’ve been pt through that have tested and helped develop my character, and I’ve come to marvel at how much I’m learning what it really means to love yourself.

Loving yourself isn’t just about talking positive about yourself and having a healthy amount of confidence. Loving yourself also involves doing things that remind you of your self-worth & doing things that contribute to your own happiness.

So many young girls and women these days struggle to love themselves because they experience low self-esteem and low confidence, thereby making them feel unworthy of love. They judge themselves too much, compare themselves to unrealistic standards of physical attractiveness and engage in unhealthy behaviors (e.g. excessive exercising or disordered eating patterns) in order to fit into a mold set forth by society, all because they can’t accept and love themselves for the way they are right now.

This Valentine’s Day I’m taking a different approach. Instead of celebrating love for a guy I intend to celebrate love for myself. The many years I’ve spent struggling with an eating disorder and poor body image has made me realize that many of the things I’ve done were done out of self-hatred. Starving myself, binging, cutting, criticizing my looks, obsessively counting calories, rejecting compliments, hiding under ugly baggy clothes, were all things that were done out of self-hatred. When you love yourself, you nourish your body right rather than starve yourself. When you love yourself, you don’t punish your body for eating because of the unnecessary excessive guilt it inflicts upon you. When you love yourself, you dress to express your personality instead of hiding your body out of shame.

Also, this Valentine’s Day I’m celebrating my capacity for self-love by recognizing my worth and value as a woman. I’ve abandoned toxic relationship because my worth as a person, be it as a friend or romantic partner, wasn’t being sufficiently recognized and was making me unhappy. Through various situations I’ve faced & that has tested me, I’ve learned to recognize my self-worth, remind myself of the value that I am, be kind to myself & not disrespect myself in any way by compromising my beliefs to please others. When you love yourself, you are kind to yourself & make choices that you’re comfortable with. When you love yourself, you don’t change to please others; you be yourself and the right people will come to you. When you love yourself, you come to realize that self-criticism is a dangerous method of self-destruction & you mindfully engage in less of it.  

This Valentine’s Day, learn to fall in love with and embrace your imperfections, your flaws, the physical parts of your body that you want to change, your fears, your insecurities, your quirks because they are what make you uniquely you.

This Valentine’s Day, appreciate the love and passion that rests in your soul. Appreciate how sensitive you are, how kind you are, how loyal you are, how loving you are, and how giving you are. Don’t let heartbreak and loneliness douse the fire in your heart. Appreciate that you make mistakes & learn from them because you’re human. Appreciate that you can never be as strong as you want to be all the time, and allow yourself to be vulnerable and learn from being outside your comfort zone.

Finally, this Valentine’s Day, this photoshoot is to celebrate my love for myself because after years of hating my body, I want to live in the moment and enjoy exactly how fabulous and great I felt in that smashing bodysuit and tights.

“The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself.”

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I’m tired of hating my body cos I don’t.

Dancers face their own personal body images issues as well and as a chubby dancer myself, I completely relate to what Azzura has blogged about here. For those of you dance, do you face any body image issues? What are they? Am also in the process of interviewing Azzura (read: creating interview questions hehe) so stay tuned!

Inspiring People.

I actually grew up with various issues about self-image; as a part Indian-part Malay chubby Muslim Malaysian female, social situations can take sudden hostile turns at any point when people find it frustrating when they can’t put you in a ‘category’. Growing up, I felt confused and often nervous to explain my background….. it just seemed like whatever my answers were, I was always giving the WRONG answer. How can I look Indian but have a Malay name? How can I be Muslim but look Indian? Etc etc. I just AM, ok.

However, luckily I had a loving family that nurtured me into an outgoing child, and somehow I was able to get past all the identity-crises and I grew up a confident child and teenager who had lots of friends. There might’ve even been a boy or two who liked me in school — but well, it was usually…

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Happy 2016!

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Happy 2016! I can’t believe how fast time has gone, that a year has gone by in a flash, that so many events have happened in the span of a year but it seems like it all happened within months instead.

I haven’t blogged in the longest time ever. I usually need bursts of inspiration to be able to chug out a meaningful post and I suppose I’ve been going through some events with regards of eating and body that have sucked up my writing juices.

Anyway, before I embark on “welcome to the new year” reflection post, I’m entering 2016 dressed in an outfit inspired by the fashions of the 1950s. That era showcased women with swishy swing dresses, full skirts, pin up dresses, cropped tops, cigarette and capri pants & for some strange reason, bullet bras (think Madonna’s cone bra that John Paul Gaultier made for her).

I love how feminine the 50s fashion looks and I so decided to pair these cropped jeggings with my green halter and blue cardigan. I threw the bow-tie headband at the very last minute and I think it brings out the feminine playful vibe of the era.

I never thought I’d do cropped/capri pants as I thought I’d emphasize my muscular calves which gave me second thoughts but hey hey after months of learning to restructure my negative thought patterns, I just decided to f*** it and wear it because I like the overall look of it. The only drawback I have about the pants is that they are jeggings, are slightly tight at the waistband, but a good comfortable fit around my thighs. One size up and the jeggings hang loose on me. UGH. Frustrating. I’m now on the lookout for cropped jeans because I think I prefer a stiffer fabric so if anyone in Singapore reading this can recommend places to get good cropped pants or jeans ending above the ankle, HELP A GIRL OUT THANKS.

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I’m not going write a long-winded post elaborating the events that happened in 2015 and detailing the lessons I’ve learned, but I do want to list down some of the events I’ve experienced that, looking back, seemed quite significant

  • Performed at the Singapore International Latin Festival 2015.
  • Took not 1, but 2, solo trips to Japan (Osaka & Kyoto) and Thailand (Bangkok)
  • Got my first tattoo.
  • Graduated with 2nd upper class Honors.
  • Got to see Yanis Marshall perform live.
  • Taught Introductory Psychology to secondary school students as part of a temporary work stint at my former school.
  • Got into 2 performance teams (Ladies’ Junior Styling & Alma Latina)
  • Finally forgave myself for my a past mistake that I didn’t realize had been emotionally and mentally weighing me down.
  • Re-discovered my self worth by choosing to walk away from a casual relationship
  • Stepping out my comfort zone more and experimenting with more makeup and clothing choices
  • Wore a swimsuit (a monokini) for the first time in years. 
  • Going on more informal photoshoots.

 What seemed like negative events which I wished had never happened had strangely enough, turned out to be blessings in disguise. Not only did some (1) give me more time to be able to pursue and train more in dance, (2) grant me more time to establish closer bonds with my family & (3) allow me to make more new friends in the dance scene – some of whom have been unlikely sources of wisdom and helped in personal growth, some have also tested my character and pushed me to become a stronger, better and wiser woman more cognizant of what she is worth, what she deserves and what she should and shouldn’t do in similar situations.

I’ve also been going through episodes that continue to challenge the way I think about my body that is pushing me to alter my thoughts about my body shape. I’m continuing to try and make peace with my body and being less critical of it and am realizing that its getting slightly easier to reframe my negative thoughts into more positive one.

Additionally, I’ve been thrown into a couple of phases during which I abandoned mindful eating and started overeating, causing weight fluctuations and mood swings which have definitely made me realize that I need work more on body acceptance and what it really means to eat mindfully and healthily.

I don’t have resolutions for 2016. Instead I have goals. Intentions. Positive calls to shift and grow and make me a better empowered person. Some of which include:

  1. Training and improving my dance
    • Get better at chaine turns (traveling spins)
    • Work on musicality
    • Find my personal dance style
  2. Read 2 books per month
  3. Continue working on self-acceptance and mindful eating because recovery is a lifelong journey with unexpected paths, twists and turns.
  4. Be a more conscious shopper and purchase clothes that are versatile as opposed to buying many one-off statement pieces.
  5. Blog more about my journey toward body positivity and eating disorder recovery!
  6. Take more risks & learn from them.

I realize the last listing may not be considered a goal, but more of a challenge. But I do think risk-taking is an essential element to growth. A friend wisely told me: ” Taking risks is so fundamental to human nature. Curiosity and exploration is what makes us human. Closing ourselves off from the possibility of experience because of fear/worry, would lead to many paths untaken.” No risks = no journeys taken = no lessons learned.

Also, I really do I gotta blog more about my body positivity journey and the triumphs, challenges and lessons of my eating disorder recovery. I realized there was a burst of posts about body image earlier this year, which slowly faded off as the year came to an end because I was going through some personal work-related issues that drained the life out of me. Hopefully this year things will be better and I can spread more messages about body love and acceptance ❤

Happy New Year all! What are your goals for body positivity and ED recovery in 2016? Let me know I wanna hear them! Til the next blog post (soon I promise!)

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how to achieve body confidence

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this marriage of billowy culottes and the modern jumpsuit screams versatile and oh so comfortable in Singapore’s hot & humid weather

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I first started this blog with the intention of documenting my journey with recovering from an eating disorder and developing a more positive relationship with body. To further my progress in achieving a healthy body image I began doing some “photoshoots” to capture my outfits and incorporating them into my blog until it became something of a body-positive-eating-disorder-recovery-kinda-sorta-fashion blog. I’m not an exclusive fashion blogger. I don’t go on photoshoots & I tend to write more about body positivity & ED recovery than fashion, but I do love dressing up & sometimes use photography as a way of developing a more positive body image because I have always avoided expressing myself through my personal sense of style during the height of my eating disorder days. I felt so miserable not only hiding my body in baggy loose shirts, but also avoiding mirrors so I wouldn’t have to look at my body & ended up hating the way I look. 

Throughout my recovery journey, doing these #semiprofesh photoshoots (because you know I don’t have a camera and use my phone instead), I’ve come to learn some things about achieving body confidence:

Wear the right clothes for your body & wear clothes that reflect your personal style.

I know that the body-positive community urges women to ignore these so called “fashion rules” and to “wear it if they like it”. Here’s my 2 cents and you can either accept it or reject it but let me just bring lay my own perspective on the table all right. I do agree in “wearing it if I like it” because after all, I’ve passed over many many outfits that I liked but never had the courage to wear because I felt I wasn’t skinny enough to look good in them. However ever since I embarked on my eating disorder recovery I’ve taken baby steps out my comfort zone and started wearing sleeveless dress, jumpsuits and even a body con dresses once because…well, because I can and because I’ve slowly developed a more positive relationship with my body to allow myself to don these frocks. However, having said that I also believe in striking a balance and actually choosing clothes that are both suitable for your body type AND reflect your personal sense of style. 

Wear clothes that reflect your style

Listen, not all trends will work for us, its not your responsibility to follow trends. Just because people are telling you to “wear it if you like it” doesn’t mean you should follow them and that it will work for you because it just ain’t you. Wild retro or animal prints may be the rage but I’m not about to jump on the bandwagon and deck myself in them because…its just not me. Find clothes that express your unique personality and work it, because confidence isn’t about following trends and looking like every body els;  its about letting your inner personality shine through your clothes and being yourself without the need to conform to something else. Know what styles work for you and what doesn’t. Don’t compromise your style to fit in with others, coz it ain’t worth it. You are a work of art. So work it.

Wear the right clothes for your body

When I say to wear the right clothes for your body, I’m not talking much about dressing to look thinner. I’m talking about wearing clothes that are of a good fit so that you feel comfortable and confident in it. For instance, I have broad shoulders and thus, am top heavy and let me tell you, I’m not going to wear large, oversized kaftan tops because it will exaggerate my frame and make me look disproportionate & with extra fabric floating around my body, I’m just going to look like a disheveled frump. I’m not going to wear something that’s too small or a “just-nice” fit because it makes me feel uncomfortable or like I cant breathe or that makes me keep tugging at the top so that I have room to move my arms. Yes, I can wear the top if I want to if it looks absolutely gorgeous and stunning, but at the end of the day, I personally don’t want to look frumpy; I wanna look good. If you choose good fitting clothes that suit your body, you will look good and you feel good. No scratch that, you feel #badass.

If you don’t want to wear a certain something (e.g. cropped tops / high waisted jeans) because you’re still struggling with bad body image, then don’t, simple as that. You don’t have to jump on the bandwagon and wear something if it doesn’t make you feel good about your body. It doesn’t make you a body-shamer. It makes you…well…you. It just means you don’t feel good in it, end of story. Don’t force yourself to do something if you’re not ready for it because it’ll do you more harm then good. The priority is to take the time to understand the relationship you have with your body, and work on ways to improve it. When you’re ready, then by all means rock that outfit like you were born to wear it no matter what size you are. 

Stop fat-talk; change your inner dialogue

 I talked about the importance of positive self-talk in my previous post here: [ positive self-talk and body image ] . How you talk to yourself about how you look and how your body impacts body confidence. You can’t expect to be confident about your body if there is a voice saying that you look ugly and you look puffy in an outfit and telling you that you need to lose weight and you need to change out that outfit because it looks better on a thinner person. Criticizing yourself won’t change your body, and it’ll only attack the confidence you have in yourself. You can’t change the situation, so change your attitude. When you find yourself automatically pointing out your flaws when you look in the mirror or looking at the photos of yourself, STOP IMMEDIATELY. Change the channel and reframe your thoughts and and highlight the positives. “I am not fat, I am curvy and I can rock this dress” – stuff like that. The more you look out for imperfections, the more likely you are to make looking out for it a habit. Remember, what your mind says, your heart follows.

 Stop avoiding mirrors or pictures of yourself 

This is the one thing that I myself am also working on still. Too often those of us struggling with body image tend to avoid mirrors because we don’t want to see our bodies. But the truth is, its just keeping us in denial. To have a positive relationship with your body and be confident with it is to accept that this is the body that you have right at this very moment. In the past, I absolutely hated taking pictures, looking at myself in pictures and sometimes even standing in front of the mirror because I didn’t like what I saw – the rolls, the flabs etc. I didn’t like the body that I had because it disgusted me. But I believe its essential to spend more time with the mirror to come to terms with reality and learn to stop picking my body apart and criticizing it. That was why I started incorporating photoshoots in some of my blog posts – it was a journey of coming to terms with my body, that these pictures are a reflection of what my body truly is and to learn to stop picking it apart to love and accept myself more. 

Hang out with body positive people 

This is like a total no-brainer. If you hang out with people who are also tearing themselves apart, picking their flaws and constantly complaining about their thighs and stomach, you’re going to end up being just like them and feel even worse about your body. The key to improving your perception of yourself is to associate yourself with people who is body positive and who don’t rag on and on about their body. My best friends are super body-positive and I rarely hear them talk negatively about their own body and trust me, its great to be in the company of people like that because it makes you think of all the negative things you’re saying and how awful they actually sound. Like, would you even say that to your friend? Plus, it also motivates you to want to stop saying them. After all, who likes hanging out with people who are always complaining about cellulite and fat and whatnot? Its just depressing. You don’t need that shit in your life.

Stop caring about what others think

The reality is that there will be people who will have negative opinions about you. They don’t know you and they don’t care about you. Not everyone is going to be kind and accepting. People are judgmental and no matter what we wear, what we look like, how much we weigh, how we dress, people will always have something to say. If you’re going to be “oh my god I don’t have thin arms and what if I wear this sleeveless top wont people think I’m fat?” or “oh my god my legs are so muscular people will think I’m so unfeminine” you’re not going to be happy and you’ll probably end up just staying at home and dwelling in your misery. I mean, why place your happiness and self-esteem in the opinions of people whom you don’t even know and whom you will never even see again? Even if you do know them, why place your happiness in their hands anyway? Don’t let their opinions be the be-all and downfall of your self-esteem.  

Find a role model

I’m not sure about you, but for me, I find it helpful to have a role model to look up to, especially in times when I’m feeling vulnerable about my body. I’m not skinny, and in a society that continues to glorify thin bodies, I sometimes feel ashamed about my curvy/muscular body and find the confidence in myself depleting as fast as women running toward the sales. I still have problems accepting my body, especially my arms, legs and my tummy because because they’re not toned or thin as society thinks should be. So I look to role models such as body-positive people I find on Instagram who share in my struggle with accepting their body but find ways to embrace themselves. I also look to fashion bloggers and some plus-size media personalities such as Ashley Graham & Nadia Aboulhosn who rock their bodies in whatever they wear. They inspire & motivate me to want to channel their confidence and remind myself that even though I’m not be skinny, I don’t have flat tummy or a tall thin body, I sure as hell can still rock a body con dress if I want to. 

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Ashley & Nadia

  Stop holding yourself to unrealistic standards 

Be kind to yourself and stop comparing yourself to others, especially people who seem to fit the physical standards of what society, or even what you think is perfect and ideal. Perfection doesn’t exist, beauty is subjectve and you can never be beautiful or thin or curvy or lean enough for anybody. When you compare yourself to unrealistic standards in the media or to other people, you’re treating yourself to a one-way ticket to poor self esteem. There is beauty in diversity so embrace your body type for what it is. You may not have some things other girls have, but then again, you yourself have some things that other girls don’t that they wish they have. 

When you are confident with your body, you unleash your inner queen and your confidence shows in the way you carry yourself. 

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What are some ways that you guys use to get body confident? Leave a comment and let me know!

Love Your Body Week: Look 1- Back to Black

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This week I shall be dedicating posts in support of Love Your Body Week (7 Sept – 11 Sept), that’s jointly launched by the Butterfly Foundation and Sportsgirl. To those of you who may not know, the Butterfly Foundation is a organization in Australia that not only provides services to individuals affected by eating disorders and negative body image, but also reaches out to friends and family members of affected individuals to give all of them the care and support that they need. I love this because eating disorders don’t just affect the individual diagnosed with it; it has an indirect impact on those closest to him/her as well. The Foundation also advocates for the development of a healthy body image and they do so by offering a series of workshops to schools & programs to raise awareness about the role of eating disorders in body image and instill body confidence in everyone. In line with the Foundation’s overarching objectives, the Love Your Body Week aims to emphasize the importance of having a healthy body image, developing body confidence & also to remind individuals that our self worth is not based on our body shape or size

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What exactly is body confidence? Body confidence isn’t just about feeling and looking good. Its about being confident with the body that you have. With th Throughout my years of struggling with body image, I’ve learned that body confidence comes to us when we do these two things: when we accept our body and then embrace our body. It means:

  • Accepting and acknowledging that the body you have right now is the best and only body that you will have at this very moment & choosing to be okay with it.
  • Accepting and acknowledging that you have a body shape that’s different from others,  that there are women who are thinner than you, curvier than you, leaner than you and/or taller than you.
  • Accepting and acknowledging that bodies come in all different shapes and sizes but instead of criticizing yourself for not being as thin as others, you choose to be okay with it instead of spending the next few days/weeks/months/years mentally bashing yourself over it.
  • OWNING YOUR BODY LIKE YOU MEAN IT BECAUSE YOU ARE A QUEEN

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Everyday we are flooded with messages from the media, from society, from the diet, fitness and fashion industry, and sometimes even from our friends and family that out lumps and bumps should be flattened, covered or sucked out to achieve a svelte body. This causes so many of us to question our looks, cause us to lose confidence in ourselves & look into ways to alter our appearances to live up to a standard that is almost imposible to achieve unless you have Kim Kardashian’s parade of stylists, nutritionists, trainers and makeup artists in the palm of your hands 24/7. The unhealthy messages wasseverely impacting my body esteem and I spent a long time believing I had the wrong type of body; a body that’s unworthy and ugly.

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When we accept our body the way it is, we treat ourselves with love and respect; I believe body confidence is reflected not only in the way we speak about our bodies and how we carry ourselves, but also through the way you dress. When I hated my body so much when I was younger, I blatantly refused to wear dresses, short skirts and sleeveless tops. I hated that my arms were skinny enough. Cropped tops frightened, and I guess to a small extent, still frighten me because I don’t have a flat stomach and I was wearing black most of the time. I love dressing up, but my body image problems overwhelmed and prevented me from expressing myself through fashion. The only outfit I’d considered safe was big baggy black long sleeved tops with blue jeans or denim shorts. I rarely/hardly wore sleeveless things or slim-cut clothing. White pants were out because the magazines say white isn’t slimming. Dresses were too feminine for my unfeminine body. I felt trapped and unhappy.

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Since I embarked on my eating disorder recovery, I’m learning how to respect my body more. Its taken me a long time to accept that my body is curvy, yet there are days when I have trouble embracing my body because some part of me still wishes I were taller, thinner and leaner. However my acceptance journey is reflected in my choice of clothes. I’m slowly stepping out my comfort zone and experimenting with different styles, cut and even color.

HENCE, in honor of Love Your Body Week, I’m going to combine body-positive blogging and fashion blogging in which I will share some of the outfits that reflect my style, and acceptance of my body that pushed me to step away from loose baggy ill-fitting black tops and jeans into things that actually make me feel beautiful and good about my body. And, also because I love fashion 😀

Today’s post will be a MAJOR MAJOR throwback to the very first official photoshoot I did with a friend last year at Gardens by the Bay. It was probably my first time doing a photoshoot in collaboration with another body activist (HI NISSA WE GOTTA DO THIS AGAIN) for a post which I did last year about fashin and body empowerment and so I thought it apt to revive it for this occasion because it

100% carries the message I want to spread to others about body confidence today, especially if you yourself have low body confidence which makes you feel ashamed about wearing certain clothes so go read it thanks & i know it might be a slightly long read but it’ll only take up like 5 minutes of your time or even less! (read it here).

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Fashion isn’t just about showing the world your style, wit and flair. Its also a reflection of how you feel about your body. If you’re confident about your body, you don’t choose outfits that hide your body out of shame and hatred. You choose to wear a particular outfit because you feel confident in it and confident about your body, you feel fabulous in it and you choose it because it screams “I’m wearing this outfit because I’m okay with my body and I don’t care if you have a problem with it and I am going to rock this!’

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A black dress is a must have for every woman. I have 4. They’re clean, simple, classic and versatile but sometimes I feel the need to style it up with accessories to showcase my own personal touch. I paired this black bowler hat for that off-beat hippy vibe to add some edge to this classic straight-cut midi dress, before finishing the look with ankle boots. Sometimes when in doubt, you just have to go back to black.

positive self-talk and body image

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Have you ever noticed how you respond when you look at a picture of yourself, or even as you stand in front of the mirror? You spend a good amount of time getting dolled up(or not) and pick out that decent-looking outfit and think you look fabulous. But then when you finally see those photos when the day ends, you look at yourself and after a nano-second, go: “Oh god i look so fat” and/or “How do I lose 10 pounds in 2 days because I really need it.” and/or “My arms looks like chunky sausages”.

I met up with a close friend the other day at our alma mater. It was a fabulous day. The skies were brilliantly clear and blue (though the sun was burning & bright I couldn’t even open my eyes properly for pictures) and the school grounds were mercifully empty due to it being study week. When I looked through the pictures she took for me while on the bus home (because who can wait til you get back home?!), I was a little taken aback. I thought I looked…well…bigger…than what I thought I looked in the mirror. And without any hesitation, in less than a nano-second, a nano-nano second really, I automatically starting pulling and picking myself apart “Oh my god my arms are so fat I hate it.”, “My calves look disgusting”, “I need to lose weight”.

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 Why is it so easy to point out the flaws in ourselves than it is to notice the positive? Naturally I felt like crap afterward, but then suddenly, and very inexplicably there was a small part of me that went: “Stop it Serene. Just stop. This is what’s going to make you hate yourself more. This was what you did before. You’re different now. The old you would tear yourself apart from limb to limb. The new you is embracing yourself and trying to love yourself more. STOP. This is the body that you have. You can’t force yourself to lose weight in 2 days. This is the best version of yourself you can be right this very minute. You may not be skinny but you have curves. STOP.”

I guess after 1 year of hard work at practicing positive thinking has finally sparked some change in my thought patterns. Its like my mind has quietly developed the ability to detect disturbing anomalies in my thinking; anamolies that threaten to take me back to being the old me, the depressed, self-hating, constantly counting calories and avoiding “bad” foods me. A different person came up. A more positive, self-loving person determined to rebut whatever it is that my ED voice is telling me. So all the way on the bus ride home, my internal dialogue shifted and I repeated that positive affirmation to myself. And I could feel my emotions changing for the better. Just half an hour ago I was upset & downcast & ready to hide in my baggy clothes for the next 53 years. But after changing the way I thought about myself in those pictures, I felt so much better. I felt calmer and thought less about losing weight. Sure it took a while, but hey, I felt much better.

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Here’s the hard truth: when we don’t love ourselves, we’re forever constantly picking out flaws. And we do that because we don’t love ourselves enough to see other positive qualities in us. We pick out our flaws, because we don’t live up the the expectations that we have of how we want to look like. When we see that our arms aren’t muscular & toned like we expect them to be, we say they’re fat. When our tummies aren’t tight and toned like we expect and want them to be, they’re jiggly & disgusting. Our expectations of how our bodies are affecting our dialogue with our bodies.

So while I’m working on trying to accept myself, it turns out I still have some expectations about my body that might have been a little….well…not so good because there I was, sitting in the bus and flipping through the photos which my friend took for me & constantly picking out flaws and dismissing myself as fat.

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You see, when we talk harshly about our body parts and criticize them repeatedly, we become susceptible to negative perceptions and emotions. After all, what we think, we feel. And vice versa. When you think you’re ugly and fat, you automatically put yourself in a bad mood. When you overload your brain with negative dialogue, there’s less room and effort for (1) focusing on the positive things about yourself and (2) reframing the negative into positive talk. When you continuously pick out flaws in yourselves, it becomes a habit and every time you look at yourself in the mirror or in a picture, or even just by yourself, you’ll automatically start tearing yourself apart. Imagine doing that for the next 20 years. 20 years of picking & pulling, criticizing & complaining. Its no wonder we hate ourselves.

When we automatically engage in negative internal dialogue about ourselves, it becomes easier to fall into the trap of making lists of forbidden foods and starting to count all those calories until we end up developing terribly distorted body image, low self-esteem and confidence & disordered eating patterns. We start to feel overwhelmed. Powerless. The old me was constantly picking out physical flaws, aspects of myself that didnt live up to the standard of phsycail attractiveness that I so strongly adhered today before. I was therefore, constantly striving to repair my flaws. I ended up developing disordered eating and obsessively exercising which only fueled the nagyve self-talk when I wasn’t able to live up to my expectations and lived in failure.

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So maybe my arms and abs will never be as toned and small as Jillian Michaels and I won’t ever be as thin as Kendall Jenner, but it doesn’t mean I have to beat myself over it. Body positivity involves acceptance of yourself, loving yourself and also being kind to yourself. Unless you have Aladin’s genie, you can’t change your body overnight. You’ve been at war with yourself for such a long time and all that negative self-talk got you to such a low depressed, self-hating state. Its become a habit. A disease. A healthy body image requires one to have a positive dialogue with oneself. It won’t occur overnight. It’ll take time and effort, but it’ll change you for the way you think about yourself, and for the better.

So next time when you start thinking negatively about your body, make the conscious effort to stop and reframe those thoughts. Think back to how you felt about yourself whenever you engaged in negative internal dialogue. Do you still want to continue feeling that way the rest of your life? NO. So do something about it. Make the conscious effort to change your thoughts, because when your mind makes the effort, your heart will follow. 

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self-comparison: celebrities vs. peers

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I’ve been going through this phase recently where I started wanting to become thin. Or rather, thinner than I currently am right now. I know what has brought this on, and I can sense the disconnect between two opposing forces. One that pulls in the direction of dieting to lose weight and be skinny, and another force pulling in the opposite direction that knows the possible consequences of such obsessive thinking about weight loss and ideals.

One of the reasons that boosted this increased desire to diet and exercise (and not in the healthiest of ways) to get a skinny body comes from self-comparison. I read a few fashion blogs once in a while, and the reason I read these particular blogs is because the fashion bloggers have a body type that is more or less similar to mine. They’re not thin/slim (like many fashion bloggers I see online), but they’re curvier (though not plus size) & its actually always nice to look at fashion blogs by curvier bloggers because its always nice to look at the fashion choices of girls with body types similar to yours. It serves as a guides of sorts that gives you an idea of how to pull styles off that are suitable for your body type & inspire you to  wear certain clothing types, especially clothing types you never really dared to wear because I always found my body too flawed to wear it, such as sleeveless tops in my case as I’m usually quite insecure about my arms to wear them.

We all know what that is, but I think that many of us don’t truly understand what it really entails. Self-comparison is the thief of joy; Don’t compare yourself to others because we all have different body types. When it comes to understanding what self-comparison really means, we take its definition and understanding at but face value.  

In my sophomore year of university I did an independent research project entitled “Is Facebook Making You Feel Fat? The Effects of Facebook on Body Image Satisfaction”. Its well documented that many individuals who view images of thin celebrities and models experience a range of negative effects such as a decrease in body satisfaction and increase in the desire to eat less and exercise more. With the popularity of social media usage in today’s society, I wanted to extend this above mentioned finding to discover whether exposure to a thin peer on Facebook will lead to a decrease in body satisfaction as well.

Anyway, we all know that when we compare ourselves to celebrities or models with desirable body types, we sometimes tend to get jealous of them because we know we can almost never look like them even if we gave in our 110%. Since when can we afford to hire personal chefs and fitness trainers to give us the top-knotch body that we’ve had our eye on anyway? I admit to comparing myself to media figures in the earlier days of my eating disorder, but I also compare myself to other role models; in other words, the model of comparison is people who are more similar to me – friends, the average woman on the street with a regular job who isn’t a celebrity, the women I see on social media.

The other woman. 

Its well known exposure to thin celebrities can potentially decrease body satisfaction, but its also argued, and empirically supported, that people can a bigger decrease in satisfaction when they see a peer with a thinner body than theirs. Psychology purports that while we compare ourselves to celebrities, we actually sometimes prefer to compare ourselves to our peers. Why? Because we’re not celebrities. Its like comparing pasta to pizza. Celebrities don’t lead the same lifestyles as us. We know we can’t almost like them because they can afford to attain the body that they have. They are a standard that we can’t really reach and so instead, we turn to someone who is more similar than us to evaluate ourselves because being on the same level as us means that they are a standard that we can, and in our minds should be able to reach up to.

Do any of you ever feel envious of your friends at times because he/she has a body shape that you don’t? Studies have found for instance, adolescents tended to compare their weight & height to their peers instead of to models and celebrities. Participants had reported feeling worse about their body when they saw pictures of a thin peer as compared to an overweight one. I’ve experienced this myself pretty often. Take these fashion bloggers for instance, when I see at some are skinnier than me, or bustier than me, I get jealous, because being of similar body shape and body size, I expected myself to be able to look more like them. But I couldn’t. If they lost weight, I felt even more worse, because if she can lose weight, then I should be able to, and must lose weight to, because in my mind, we are more or less the same.

Humans have a natural tendency to compare ourselves to others because the information we acquire from self-comparison allows us to evaluate ourselves and check for the need for improvement if necessary. We all the best for ourselves. So do I. When I see that someone I know has lost weight I get envious, because if she can lose weight, so can I. But I’m not losing weight. Its not just fashion bloggers. Even weight-loss success stories of peers and other non-celebrities that I read of on social media; I get more jealous of them than those of celebrities, because celebrities are just so dissimilar to me and I live in a world quite different from them. But my peers, and the average non-celebrity out there on the planet are also struggling to get in better shape the same way I am. If they can lose weight, why the hell can’t I?! This most definitely stems from my competitive and ambitious streak. I don’t just want to get better; I want to be the best. I want to help people, but I also want to be better. Is that a bad thing? Well, I suppose in instances like this, it can be a bad thing. Honestly though it doesn’t mean I’m a Regina George who wants to put other people down. It just means I have incredibly high expectations of myself that sometimes overwhelms me and take control of me.

I am starting to mistake self-comparison for inspiration. 

Its not necessarily a bad thing, but when it starts to become overwhelming and motivate you to be skinny to be better and compels you to start thinking about unhealthy things such as crash-dieting, restricting and obsessive exercising, then something is wrong.

 This is what’s happening to me & this is where I sit down and think to myself like I always do when my mind gets too overwhelmed and I’m trying to find reasons for my thoughts and behaviors.

Am I comparing myself to my peers and other regular women? Yes. Does it make me want to be skinny? Yes. Can you please remember that every woman’s body is different and that comparing yourself only makes you more anxious about your body and given your past tendencies of disordered eating, do you want to risk a relapse? No. Do you know all these negative thinking and considerations about crash-dieting are incredibly unkind to your body? Yes. So now what?

Now I just need to just redivert my energies and change my thought patterns whenever I start thinking these kinds of things and whenever I start comparing myself to others. Do I want to get skinnier? I’ll be honest, a part of me does want to. But after going through recovery for a year, I’ve become smarter and stronger enough to know that I shouldn’t turn to all the negative things I did to my body. I need to continue to learn how to learn myself while becoming who I want to be. Its more important to be healthy than it is to be skinny. These women aren’t celebrities themselves but then they I have qualities & strengths that they don’t. If I start comparing myself to them, I’m just doing myself a disservice, disempowering myself even more AND making me feel even worse about myself.

Regardless of whether a person is a celebrity, a peer, a fashion blogger, a woman on the street, remember that everyone’s body type, metabolism and lifestyles are different & self-comparison is disempowering and robs you of your happiness & your individuality. The only thing I should be doing is focus on my own recovery & the only person that you should be better than, is the person that you were yesterday.

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