[ As You Are ] Just Be

Athletic set by    As You Are     Photography by    Tina Maria

Athletic set by As You Are

Photography by Tina Maria

The last thing you want to hear from an Asian girl with a fairly lean figure is how insecure she feels about her body. But truth is, we’re all entitled to our insecurities and we don’t always have to understand what we’re already born with.

In this modern age of digital voices and daily surround sounds, we hear it all. We hear the courageous souls stand up and speak out on behalf of plus sizes everywhere. We protest against stores and brands who refuse to carry sizes beyond 6’s. We see the movies and shows and documentaries that cover all angles (no pun, intended) of society’s body perceptions and the science between food nutrition and human body affects. We are abundantly fed with information and resources—variety of fitness classes to give us options that suit us, tons of fitness coaches and influencers who share their journeys and inspire us, clothing brands and athletic wear that don’t tell us how to look or feel—that help us all combat our own insecurities with whatever body we have.

And yet, I still struggle with mine. And yes, I’m allowed to. That was the first struggle addressed: to acknowledge that I’m allowed to have body insecurities even at my own size, even when I’m neither considered large or small but right in the middle of a conversation unheard.

It was hard to say it out loud when every time I did, I’d hear the typical, “Oh shut up, you’re not fat. You shouldn’t be ashamed of your body.” So I’d swallow the insecurity and the guilt, along with the rest of the reasons why I didn’t fully love my body, knowing that even ingesting these thoughts and feelings weren’t making matters slim.

“My body is a constant struggle. My body is a stolen artifact.

My body is a gulf of dreaming.” - Angel Dominguez

I never understood why we had to define the negative comments thrown at our physical figures as either “fat-shaming” or “skinny-shaming” because if we’re trying to break down the discriminatory sizing, then why associate such ugly taunts with the words at all? Why does “fat” or “skinny” have to mean something good or bad? When all they should be are visual words of physical description—paint colors to our human canvas.

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So when As You Are approached Tina and me with this amazing new launch of their activewear collaboration, we did not hesitate one bit to jump on this opportunity. But to be completely honest, during our photoshoot (and after we both ate a really hefty breakfast), Tina and I couldn’t help but name all the things we hated about our bodies after we took these photos. It’s a force of habit for both of us. But it’s also a force of habit to be each other’s support and to pull each other out from our dark thoughts. Every “ew, I look flabby” was instinctively replied with “can you stop, I don’t see anything” from the other. And while neither of us may entirely believe each other’s words of encouragement, I know we both appreciate that at least we have this kind of body support, regardless.

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When I reflected on As You Are’s mission of celebrating every woman’s bodily individuality just as they are, I thought about how I celebrate my own body in my own understanding. As part of my positive mental shift, I am striving to transform the meaning of my negative and hateful thoughts to myself into language of new and better interpretations. I’m redefining what these harmful words convey, both transpired from societal standards and from my impulsive thinking.

My insecurities may not fully disappear and it’ll be a long road ahead to completely transform my negative mentality, but it’s the small steps that count, even literally (10,000 steps per day, let’s go). And here’s the first mile to loving my body, just as it is and walk as I am:

  1. My thighs are huge…but it’s to keep myself grounded and sometimes, it takes extra muscle and weight when my head is too high up in the clouds.

  2. My stomach is all flab and I have no curves….but it’s all the wonderful foods I thoroughly enjoy and reward myself with. And the curves aren’t there yet because I’m still learning to find my path straight ahead before I define my own outlines in wounding shapes.

  3. I have no ass…but I’m working on being my own cushion and support every time I fall, mentally, emotionally, and physically.

  4. My cheeks are so chubby…but it’s all the smiling I do that keeps them doing extra work. I mean chipmunks can be cute, too.

  5. I absolutely hate my feet…but it’s because I’ve walked all these dark paths in my life, trudging through trenches of internal conflict and land mines of self-war.

My body is my story. Every insecurity I see in myself comes from a place of reminder of the many lives I’ve lived and still will live. It’s not easy to embrace these reminders when all you want to do is trim their presence away, but it’s even harder to work them off when you know you are your own walking narrative—a physical novel for people to read and know, and for yourself to love. So I’m going to just be who I am as I know best right now, until I’m ready to physically represent a better inner self. But either way, I will love both versions equally, and full-bodied (pun intended).

 
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