According to my father, if anybody tells you that people are inherently good, then that person is lying to you. Humanity is such a controversial topic, but that’s just his opinion, and he’s the most practical realist I know. Anyhow, my dad told me this statement about two years ago, right before the day of my high school graduation. As eagerly as both of my parents encouraged me to branch out in college, my dad’s words almost served as a warning, or a foreshadow, to what I would inevitably come across when discovering new roads in my new life chapter.
Five years ago, I absolutely hated the world, or at least the one in my local sector. After losing almost all my friends at the end of elementary school, my classmates continued to ostracize me upfront but exchanged toxic comments behind my back. Figuratively, I used the mistreatment as fuel towards making healthier physical, mental, and emotional lifestyle choices that led me to a much better personal state. While I try to surround myself around as positive and fulfilling of a community as possible, I still receive or experience more than plenty of negativity directed towards me—not necessarily often, but enough to engrain any sort of impact. Surely, wearing a smile and a smaller-sized shirt is more socially acceptable than wearing insecurity, but doing so does not guarantee that everybody will like you, let alone want to be a friend.
I remember feeling so ecstatic in my skin after losing just the first ten pounds. My black tank tops, shorts and mini skirts were worn with intense pride. On the way to a musical theater rehearsal, I recall expressing to a relative that I wanted to buy a “Train Insane or Remain the Same” sports tank from the Blogilates website, and my relative’s response was: “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
I was puzzled. “Why not?” I asked.
Without a glance, this person replied, “It’s because you’re not skinny enough.”
Appearing too “large” than the present physical standards became my worst nightmare. Gaining a body that was supposedly eligible to wear anything that would demonstrate fitness remained my primary goal as I worked harder and harder than ever to lose the last twenty or so pounds. Friends, family, teachers, relatives, acquaintances, friends of friends—everyone who knew what I looked like twenty or even thirty pounds heavier noticed a difference. Most of them expressed shock (Ironically, the same relative who shot that comment towards me actually brought a “Train Insane or Remain the Same” tank as a present the next year). Because I was so haunted by the words “not skinny enough” that were engrained in my head, I continued my inflexible exercise routine and restrictive dieting habits. Others’ concerns were merely ambience. I loved the way I looked in my clothes, my swimsuits, and in pictures. If I could fit in any jean size at the store and if my ab definition was visible, then they couldn’t say anything.
Several years closer to my high school graduation, I started planning my college life and what I wanted to accomplish and explore there. One of my dreams was to become a fitness class instructor at the recreation center, and the people who were with me at the time glanced at me with expressionless eyes and stated, “That’s not a good idea. You don’t look like a fitness instructor. You look too weak to be fit.” At that very moment, I felt all the energy drain from my face and my heart shatter just as it did when I was told I was too overweight to seem fit.
Since that day, I took more mental notes of what I saw in the mirror to see any validity in that previous statement of looking “too weak”. Theoretically, I didn’t have the typical “fit girl” body that possessed extremely noticeable muscle definition on my biceps and triceps, a full-blown six pack, a curvy bubble butt, large breasts, or well-structured calves. I might not look even stick skinny in many ways. Obviously, the fact that my appearance is the basis of others’ credibility of what healthy and fit looks like is entirely misconstrued; regardless, I was badly affected by what I was told. Earlier, I had reached a point in my life where I was relatively content with my body (minus the few nitty-gritty insecurities here and there), and little did I know that an outsider with little knowledge about the health and fitness community would spit on it. However, after a few blood tests and checkups with some doctors, I concluded that my weight came with several legitimate health concerns, hence prompting me to start a new journey towards gaining some muscle mass.
Outside of the gym and the kitchen, on the contrary, plenty of folks I’d greet almost every time I saw them would never return anything. Many times, others showed no interest in conversing with me when I tried to exchange information. A couple of people don’t even acknowledge my presence in the same room. Of course, I have made some incredible friends, but my attempts at making new ones did not always work.
The point is, regardless whether I was a size large or a size extra-extra-small, somebody found something negative to say about me, let alone my body. Forget about people being mean, at least for this instantaneous moment. What concerns me is the insensitivity, the beginner level of spiritual consciousness, and lack of concern that people have about others’ feelings. On the other hand, it is inevitable that every individual will always have their independent beliefs and opinions. Shifting the focus from individualist values of selfishness and insecurity to communal values of understanding and empowerment is a separate situation. Rude comments are everywhere. It is up to you to tune it down to white noise or put it on full blast.
People can be mean, but people are hurt. Do not take anything negative (eliminating constructive criticism) that you hear too personally. Bad days, anger, stress, insecurity, even boredom, strike everybody. At the end of the day, remember that you are needed somewhere, sometime, somehow, and by someone, in this world. Obsessing over the wrongdoings that you faced in the past will prevent you from reaching your full potential. Not seeing all the possibilities you can achieve in your whole lifetime would be a massive disservice. The next time you hear someone call out “thunder thighs” or “pancake ass”, show them that you can transform your insecurities into your biggest assets, whether through changing your lifestyle habits or simply saying, “Yes, this is my ass. And it’s a fucking beautiful one.”