Body positivity: A fine line between self esteem and self deception

Disclaimer: This post would most likely male some people upset. This post is not aimed at those who are obese with legitimate medical conditions.

I was really contemplating to write this piece as I have quite a few overweight friends. I didn’t want to offend anyone. However, having gone through a journey of transformation myself, I want to lift this off my chest. I hope to share my views on the Body Positive movement and render help to those who need to lose weight.

In the recent years, the Body Positive Movement sprung up and encourages women and/or female-identifying people to adopt more forgiving and affirming attitudes towards their bodies, with the goal of improving overall health and well-being. This movement’s intent is praise worthy.

Currently in the media, women and men are constantly bombarded by images of how the perfect male and female body should look like. Many individuals,  look at these highly Photoshoped images and feel less about themselves. In the newspaper, there are countless reports of how individuals are taking on extreme measures so that they can look like those who are featured in the media. Even in my own circle of friends, I have witnessed how healthy individuals became anorexic and bulimic because they lost their self esteem and always feel like they are too fat.

Even in the school’s Character and Citizenship Education modules, students are taught to love and have a positive view on their bodies. They don’t need to feel bad about themselves just because they do not fit into the society’s view on beauty.

Unfortunately, many people misuse the same line of arguments proposed by the movement to refuse any changes to their lifestyle. It is not difficult to find morbidly obese individuals on Youtube calling viewers to accept their bodies as beautiful also. They also call viewers to accept their lifestyle and their choice as it is their desire to stay this way.

My own journey of self-denial

Growing up, I was always a fat kid. I was never really active as being the only child, my parents were really protective and didn’t allow me to go out and play. I also enjoyed eating. It certainly didn’t help when my mum loves to buy stuff for me to eat when she comes home after work.

As a child, I would often be playing computer games hours on end and during meal times, I often overeat. I would continue eating even though I was full and would only stop when all the dishes are cleared.

Through many years, I grew fatter and fatter. In primary 5, I was called by the teacher to be in the Trim and Fit club (TAF club) because I was overweight. I need to stay back in school to do exercise to help me lose weight. However, all these proved ineffective as I am still overeating and having a sedentary lifestyle at home.

When I got into secondary school, I was still a fat kids who enjoys playing computer games. Nobody really bothered me about my weight until I was in secondary 3. I had a classmate who would pick on me for being fat. He would call me names when we are playing soccer. I remembered he told me once not to play as I was fat and can’t play well.

In junior college, I lost a little bit of weight due to my involvement in my CCA, Taekwondo. However, when I got into university, my weight ballooned. This was mainly because I wanted to place more emphasis on my studies and get a good GPA. As such, I stopped being active again. The situation was made worse when fast food was easily available in the campus and I would often buy Mcdonalds/Pizzas to reward myself after a long period of studying.

Despite all these, I had a really positive (and warped) view on my body;

I reasoned that in terms of evolution, I am at a advantage as when famine comes, I am able to store fat much better.

I reasoned that we are advancing as a society and people should love me for who I am and not how I look; fat.

I reasoned that if girls didn’t like me due to the way I looked, it’s because they are shallow and couldn’t look beyond my physical appearance.

Getting over the bullshit

I could say whatever I wanted and reasoned however I like but one thing is for sure, I was overweight, getting fatter and was unfit. I would be out of breath just trying to chase after the bus. Something obviously needed to be done and I wasn’t really bothered it.

It was only after a Muay Thai competition that I decided that I needed to get fit. I was sparring one of the polytechnic guys and realized that the only reason I lost was that I wasn’t fit and lacked stamina. Hence, I set out on the journey to improve my fitness.

One of the first few steps I took was downloading the Runkeeper app and followed its running program diligently. After running, I would be careful of what I eat as I didn’t wanted the exercise to go to waste because I was greedy. I also signed up of Muay Thai classes and that forced me to exercise more as I didn’t wanted to waste the membership.

Slowly, I was losing weight and I see my body changing. My double chin was gone and I could run and catch a leaving bus without losing my breath!

Beauty is not only skin deep

If there is one thing I can learn from all these is that beauty is definitely not skin deep and that how we look are often a reflection of our lifestyle and choices.

In the past, I could hardly get dates and I don’t blame anyone. My body reflected of someone who was having a sedentary lifestyle. That was hardly attractive. And if you ask me if I would have dated someone who looked like me, I would say no. It seems like I am as shallow as those I mentioned who didn’t like me for who I am and not how I look. HAHA.

I showed my fiancee how I looked like in the past and she mentioned that she probably wouldn’t have dated me then because I looked like someone who didn’t care about himself. Rightly so. In the past, I cared more about helping my online game character reach lv99 than taking care of my body.

A change in physical appearance required a change in lifestyle and honestly it is not that hard.

You don’t need to lift weights 5 times a week.
You don’t need to run everday.
You don’t need a gym membership.
You don’t need to be good in sport.

All you need is to be willing. And I think this is the problem with most people. It is not that they can’t see the problem, they are just unwilling to address it. They would rather argue with you than make a change in their lifestyle. They can find a thousand and one reasons to change and sometimes this Body Positive movement just gave them an extra excuse.

Be fat for the right reasons

Don’t misunderstand my message though. Being fat is perfectly fine. In fact, many athletes that I admire are fat. E.g. Sumo wrestlers, power lifters etc. However, they are fat because they dedicate their lives to their sport. That is something I admire. However, most of us aren’t like these pro athletes. Many of us are obese like I was because we made poor choices and are gluttonous and lazy.

Not how you look, but your attitude

Fat and thin, young and old, joining Richard Simmons in an aerobic workout.

Ultimately, it boils down to one’s attitude. After reading my post, some of you might disagree with what I have said. However, if you find that the reasons why you are obese is due to the following:

I am not active and couldn’t bother to exercise.
I am gluttonous and just eat whatever I like and desired.

I urge to to not argue with others to accept your obesity and instead do something about it. Something fun that you enjoy; like cycling, dancing, even playing the Wii.

If you can change how your current body look like, would you change it?

Trust me, it is easier than you think. My friend Daniel joined me to do workouts together 6months ago and in this short period of time, he has lost 10kg. If he can do it, you can do it too!


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