Tonight’s post is one which strikes fear into my heart. It’s not every day that I openly admit to writing about a topic which makes me feel uneasy.
Summer is approaching and all over the Internet, a seasonal phrase has reared its ugly head: “How to get a bikini body.” The titles range from “washboard abs” to “dangerously curvy” (what the hell does that even mean) which is enough to put scores of women in a cold sweat. Including me.
There’s a part of my life which, til now, I’ve kept relatively hidden. I guess it’s because I’m never really sure how I would explain it to people without being terrified of them judging me. I used to be a plus size model for swimwear, hair, skin and hand jewellery. It happened quite randomly and for the past 3 years, I found myself in an industry that celebrated the way that I looked. It was weird – my whole life (so far) I’d been told that I was: “fat, ugly, needed to lose weight or no boy would want to marry me.” Suffice to say, at my first ever shoot, I was bricking it and wanted to hide under a rock.
It took me a long time to accept the lovely comments my agent would tell me, but it clashed violently with what people in my family would say about me. “Oh she’s very big” *cue the infamous Asian aunty eye roll* And there I was in the middle of it all in a dubious vacuum with these voices floating around in my head. Which do I go with? Which one is “true”? Who has my best interests at heart?
I painfully realise that it is so difficult to love yourself and accept your body for the way it looks. When it really shouldn’t be – we come in all shapes, sizes, colours and we’re a generation that has been brought up to celebrate diversity. But why is it so difficult? I find that being in a sea of vague terms such as: “curvy, plus size thin, ugly, beautiful, real women.”The problem with these terms is that they’re all subjective and that we’ve become conditioned to think that there is only 1 type of beauty and 1 ideal body shape that we must all aspire to. But as we all know, this is wholly untrue because as the saying goes: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” as comedian Pete Holmes explains in this short but sweet video: (click to view, you won’t regret it!)
Despite having worked as a plus size model, I’m not sure if it’s really helped my self esteem or the way that I view myself. I’m still so self conscious of myself and generally want to hide myself away. I get embarrassed with compliments, attention, interest etc. I become socially inept and awkward when an attractive man walks by: if you need an example, all you need to do is say the word: SUBWAY and prepare yourselves!
In this post, I wanted to include a photo (of myself) pre-shoot, pre-photo shop, pre-make up before I did a swimwear shoot. But the thought of it freaked me out so much that I decided against it.
Perhaps one day I’ll be strong enough to post it in a future blog post.