Learning to accept my imperfections

For the third time of the day, I step on the scale hoping for a sign of change. What it shows, instead, is the same three numbers I’ve seen for the last 24 hours. Hopeless and filled with doubt, I continue the day without knowing that I’ll eventually lose the 30 pounds that clouded my self esteem for so long. 

It took me three years, the advice of doctors, fitness coaches and me pushing myself past my limit to finally lose the weight and gain the confidence I have now. 

As a child, weight was never an issue since beauty wasn’t a concept that I could understand yet. It wasn’t until starting school that I began realizing that other students were laughing at me, not with me. 

From then on, my definition of beauty slowly began to be molded by the actresses and models who my peers, myself included, deemed perfect. While everyone began buying the latest trends worn and advertised by these women, I realized I couldn’t fit into any of it.

Growing up in a traditional Chinese household didn’t help as my two-faced relatives would praise my height in front of me while fat-shaming the same body behind closed doors.

The next summer, as I approached high school, I decided I needed to change. I clocked in all of my free time at the badminton gym with any off days spent at home, exercising to any videos I could find. I confined myself to the limitations of a ketogenic diet, which emphasizes low-carb, high-fat foods, and erased all sources of artificial sugar from my reach. 

As I began losing pound after pound, I anticipated a feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment I would reach after completing my health journey. The reality was far from it. 

My mental state had been tainted after all the nights I spent hating on the body that was reflected in my mirror. The process had taken its toll on me; I became my harshest bully, pushing the once optimistic girl away.

One night, as I was practicing at the gym, one of my coaches came up to me, noticing the somber and exhausted look on my face. His one simple question of “Are you OK?” led to a 45-minute discussion where he shared with me the importance of self love.

Using his own experience, he told me how he struggled with accepting himself because of how much people tormented him for his bigger body size. He drilled into me that you will never fit everyone’s expectations; the only one you have to keep satisfied is yourself.

Taking this thought home with me, I began scrolling through my social media feed where I finally saw the posts of body positivity and acceptance, ones I had previously chosen to ignore. It showcased models with different body types all wearing one outfit—a tight swimsuit ordained with lace and intricate designs.

In that moment, I finally came to a conclusion that as much as society may showcase women who are considered flawless, we have slowly begun accepting all shapes, sizes and shades. There’s no longer this perfect box you have to fit into but rather a box that you designed for yourself. 

Maybe I’ll never feel confident enough to walk out of my room wearing clothes tight to my skin, but reminding myself of the beauty behind my flaws is the driving force that keeps me from questioning who I am.