There comes a point in time in which we have to be honest with ourselves and recognize our flaws. In the realm of personality, I can be unnecessarily harsh and stubborn at times. I can hear my friends snickering in agreement now.
Physically, I’m in a love-hate relationship with my size. I’m 5’2” and caught in a perpetual teeter-tottering between 110 and 115 pounds.
Disclaimer: yes, I am aware that I am in the group of people with “desired” bodies. I realize that I don’t have it as difficult as others who have insecurities about their size. I realize that if I were to walk into any store of my choosing they would definitely have my size. I get it all, I can assure you.
That said, sometimes I wish I was bigger and sometimes I adore my petite stature. I adore it when I get the chance to look at myself in the mirror and be genuinely happy with what it is I see. When I criticize myself for not weighing more and being taller, it’s usually because someone else has pointed out the obvious–yes, I know I’m thin. Yes, I know I’m small and short. No, I didn’t lose weight.
The average Japanese person tends to be shorter and thinner than the average American due to a number of factors: diet, geography, lifestyle, pick one. Many Western women who go over to Japan often encounter the body image problem, as Japanese clothing tends to be “one size fits all” and for Western women, that means one size fits none. I know I was definitely concerned with shopping over in Japan in fear that nothing would fit me, but, as I learned, Tokyo is a lot more global a city than I think we realize. Meaning Zara, H&M, Forever 21, and so on.
Speaking from experience, the difference in American and Japanese portion is very apparent. For example, the dorm I lived in during my study abroad time didn’t come with a meal plan so we had to feed ourselves. That actually worked out in my favor because I don’t eat shrimp or pork, two main staples in Japanese diet. I relied on a lot of chicken and beef, which is me in America anyways, but the size of the ground meat sold in Japan was significantly smaller than that in America. One package of ground meat in America could make me a large pot of spaghetti that I could have for leftovers for about three nights; two packages of ground meat in Japan made me about one dinner’s worth of food.
I think the diet changes definitely showed on me physically, because when I returned from Japan everyone and their extended families pointed it out to me. I got it from friends, family, professors. All well-intended, but resulted in me feeling an overwhelming urgency to put on 10 pounds. 125 pounds, I told myself. Eventually I got myself into the gym and started eating more; I spent 60-ish dollars on protein powder. I could see muscle definition and I was feeling stronger.
Then I stepped on a scale, and the “yasss queen” alarm in my head cut off.
I gained nothing. About 3 or so months after starting to exercise and I was still teetering on the 115 side of my weight. I was discouraged and frustrated with my body. Why did my metabolism have to be so fast? I just wanted to put on weight so I could finally have everyone out of my measurements.
Enter epiphany, stage in my brain.
Everyone has an opinion about my weight or lack thereof. And I was making myself feel bad for something that I can’t totally control. Good ol’ genetics has a role to play in it; my small appetite has another hand in the mix. What was the point of putting on pounds to please everyone else if I was just going to feel like a failure for not being able to do it? I was pressuring myself to achieve a goal that, admittedly, was a tad unrealistic and ultimately not on the healthier side for someone of my height.
Until recently, like last week recently, I gave up trying to put on weight. I kept going to the gym, making protein shakes, and eating as much as I could stomach because there were other rewards for my efforts. I was developing more upper body strength; I liked the muscle definition that was showing up. I liked that I was putting in the effort to become healthy and strong.
The reason this is called body vision is because I think that’s what would be more helpful language in the long run. The honest truth is that there’s always going to be someone who’s dissatisfied, and at the end of the day none of us exist to please the next guy who’s trying to please the next guy. Images are manipulated all the time. Think of every “omg this is real!11!!” meme you’ve seen online; think of all the magazine covers with ridiculously flawless celebrities on them. These images becomes standards we are made to believe that we should achieve.
I believe in saying “body vision” we give ourselves the power to be proud of how we look. We create and shape ourselves in the way we see fit, as opposed to what outside forces think is best for us. Outside forces will have us believe that achieving that flawless, airbrushed Vogue magazine cover look is ideal and that if we’re anything less then what’s the point? Outside forces had me believe that being so small was wrong, that even though I do fall into the category of the ideal body type I was still less than perfect.
The goal now is to put on 5 pounds. I want to create the body that I see fit for myself, not for the happiness of others.
The moral of the story, kids, is that everyone has an opinion, and they are certainly entitled to it, but that doesn’t mean their opinion is the one to live by. Trust your gut.