Here at Preen, we’re fully aware that adult life doesn’t always go as smoothly (and look as beautiful) as curated Instagram feeds. We all face challenges amidst all the good things. Meet Mikka Wee, a former food editor-turned-working gal in Singapore, who’s about to share all the ups and downs that come with adulting and living. Welcome to Bless This Mess!
I have always tipped on the heavier side. Even at my slimmest, from what I remember, there was still that extra pinch that could easily be squeezed out from every part of my body, my cheeks especially, which my grandmother fondly refers to as siopao (Chinese steamed buns).
I can always place the blame on my dad’s genetics for my body composition and shape. They are a tribe of men and women whose body types have always been thick in structure; there are no tiny bones on that side of my family. Tiny bones and slender appendages belong to my mother, who is also fortunate to have the most glowing and flawless of skins. I am lucky to have inherited even just the tiniest percentage of it. She does yoga and Pilates as if her body was her life’s calling. She doesn’t struggle to touch her toes the way I always do during a class. She doesn’t recognize the sheer luck of her build for a woman in her late 50s, always pulling that excess fabric of a belly—the pouch that housed me for nine months before she lovingly pushed me out and into the world.
On the other hand, I wonder what it must be like to feel lithe and slim. The ease of shopping without the fear of lacking a size must be such a liberating feeling. Last September, my friend Ivan introduced my husband and I to this tech company called ZOZO, where they create custom-fit apparel to suit your body. To be transparent with all of you, this isn’t a sponsored article. In fact, what compelled me to write this piece is because ZOZO’s mission is to create custom-fit clothing for a size-free world. They say they focus on shape, not size, and I thought it was a genius line.
Self-acceptance is not the easiest thing to do in the world, especially when you live in a culture where a criticism of your size is synonymous to a welcome greeting. Instead of saying “It’s so nice to see you again!” more often than not, you get something along the lines of, “You gained weight.” It’s terribly frustrating, and it’s sadly such a cultural identifier that I have never become immune from. And while society has experienced improvements, continuously bending the rules of fashion and becoming more accepting of various body types, it is still a battle I silently wrestle with, knowing my body is different and that there will always be that bulge, that crease, and flabby chunk of mass wobbling below my shoulders, like a fresh, milky mass of mozzarella.
And this is the reality faced by most women today. I think back on that wedding I attended where I desperately wanted to conceal my double chin so bad, I learned contouring on YouTube and contoured my face away. Sadly, instead of wanting to mask my double chin, I looked like I had three. There is no greater form of validation and approval than the one you give yourself. Despite everyone complimenting your looks, most of us are our own worst critics—the only thing that matters is what we think. And to some degree, this could be healthy, but on the other hand, it could also be damaging.
Going back to ZOZO and their advocacy about shape instead of size triggered some kind of comfort button and altered my concept of body appearance. In a nutshell, I am five and a half feet tall, I don’t have much of a torso, and I am wide. This is the shape I was born with, the shape I grew up with, and the shape I will continue to inhibit for the rest of my life. It is what it is. There is such a power with how we label issues, and everyday human things such as weight, waistline, and size. To alter it just a little can change the frequency altogether. It helps us gain a better acceptance of ourselves and allows us to improve the way we manage our lives.
There are still days and moments when I feel uncomfortable in my skin. Knowing that the options of expressing myself are physically limited is a challenge I am constantly tackling. I rest in the comfort knowing I am not alone in this, and that this is the norm most women are facing today because of what society dictates. Body love is great, but it doesn’t come easy to many—me included, but I am learning. I am learning to show myself a little more love, and I am being more gentle with myself because above all reasons, it is what I deserve, and it is what I need to take care of myself.
And I guess, knowing that there are better ways to talk about body issues, we can help each other be more accepting of our shapes and appearances by simply keeping it real with our struggles and insecurities. We can’t keep up a tough wall 24/7.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.
Art by Marian Hukom
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