Anorexic. In my six grade Life Skills class, it was just a couple of letters seen as a basic vocabulary word that we had to learn – not a life lesson that we were eager to understand. That was where I first learned about anorexia and bulimia and all of these now all too common disorders. At recess or PE – I can’t remember which of the two, I just know I was outside on the field – this girl who I didn’t always get along with ran past me and asked me if I was anorexic. I don’t know if it was meant as a dig or just a question. None of us really understood the impact of words like anorexic, bulimic, depressed or bipolar – so, how could a child abuse the word as hateful. I know I answered “no” however I wasn’t offended, I wasn’t hurt by the remark. I was flattered. My ten year old self was flattered someone thought that what I perceived to be fat hairy thighs were skinny enough, small enough to be anorexic.
We live in a society of public appreciation and private shaming. Why is that? There are tons of people in the world – especially adolescents – who hate themselves, hate their bodies but on their social media you’ll see retweets or reposts about how all body types should be loved. Personally, I don’t like my stretch marks, my thighs, my acne nor my bulky nose. I grew up hating those parts of me partially because the community I grew up in – I was naturally bigger than most of my classmates. A majority of my community is Asian and Asians are genetically smaller people. I’m Hawaiian, Japanese, and Mexican so I have features from each ethnicity (e.i. almond Japanese eyes, wide Hawaiian hips, frizzy Mexican hair and light skin tone). So in comparison to all my tiny Asian friends, I felt fat. It wasn’t any ones fault and I wasn’t fat at all – in reality, I was skin and bones as a kid until puberty.
But what convinced me that I was fat, was the people I saw in magazines and little comments other kids would make. I don’t know if I was bullied per say because I don’t believe children truly understand the impact of their words. They were little comments or observations that classmates or even friends didn’t realize were harmful because they were kids and did’t have malicious intent. For example, pointing out a pimple or a crooked tooth. Those aren’t huge things that everyone would dwell on but that was exactly what I hated about myself. So, those comments made one of the biggest impacts on my self esteem. I smiled with my lips sealed for years because of my messed up teeth. It absolutely drove my family crazy. “Why don’t you actually smile? Everyone looks so happy in this picture, except for Kylie.” Every time I laughed, I covered my mouth with my hand. That was pointed out once in front of a boy who I thought was cute – and when I blush, I turn red as a tomato. I have too many acne related embarrassing stories for this blog post so we can save those for a later blog post.
All of this was half a decade ago but I still have some pretty big insecurities. There are days when I love myself and days when I still struggle to like myself. However, I don’t project the negative opinions of myself to the world. Faking a smile is scientifically proven to make people happier so why not apply this theory of “faking it til you make it” to your self-esteem. Maybe that’s why we, as a society, publicize body loving no matter our personal opinion. I can honestly say, it works for me – it also doesn’t hurt to have a significant other who reminds you of your beauty as much as possible. 🙂