Here’s the truth about being fat in Singapore

I’m DONE being not okay with being chubby. Or okay, let’s call it like it is. Fat. I’m done being upset about being a fat Asian girl.

It took me a while, plenty of emotional bashings, tears on my pillow and  plenty of insecure moments that frustrate myself, my boyfriend and my friends. Family not so much, cause their usual reaction is, “just go run.”

In fact I remember one year in Secondary Three, at the height of the teenage emotional tornado that was puberty, my Dad forced me to head to the gym where all the cute guys and hot girls were working out and run my flabby self for 30 minutes while standing there and watching me like a hawk. I was dying of shame as I noticed the looks of amusement I got from everyone in the small sweaty room and my dad’s authoritarian voice yelled in exasperation, “just run! You have 20 more minutes left!” The tears started welling up and I told him I didn’t want to run anymore, in disgust he stopped the machine and said we could go.

Left: 13 years old. Right: 24 years old. Thanks puberty.

 I hated myself. There were many more moments, including one where I participated in a fire drill skit as a comatose patient that had to be carried out on a stretcher. The two “paramedics”, both boys, both 15 – I was 14 – they whispered to my dead-weight body, “wah you really very fat. So heavy.” I turned bright red and I, with fruitless abandon, attempted to support my whole body weight on my toes and head. Didn’t work. Also really made me hate being carried or having to go through trust falls.

School was a cruel place mostly.
I remember a day I had to stand in front of the school hall and sing, I was laughed at heartily. I had to put on a brave face, but once I was done I left and I told myself I would never do it again.
A year later I tried again and joined the drama club. Our first SYF play was Lord of the Flies. Where a group of boys take over the island and a hunger-games sort of ideal played out. I was casted as Piggy. The teacher told me, “we’re not picking you because of the way you look.. We believe you would really be able to portray the character!” If you read the book, you’d know that that wasn’t a good thing. And the fact they had to open their mouths and tell me they didn’t type-cast me because of my size already spoke volumes. I felt humiliated. But I sucked it up and I continued on. 
I hated every minute of it.

During cross-country, a friend jumped on my back and poked it saying, “wah Manda, so soft! Like a cushion.”

Secondary Three. I can honestly say everyone in this picture looks better than they used to. Expect Amandis Choy, cause she’s ageless and wonderfully youthful. I’m the dumpy one on the left in purple.

Needless to say my teenage years were not the best, but I’m done with hating myself.

Yes, I can’t shop at Bugis Street because literally about 80% of the items cannot fit me. I can’t shop on all your beloved blog shops simply because they cater for stick-thin girls who look good in draped in oversized cloths. I’d look like I’ll be wearing a tent with enough room to hide a circus and five households. But I CAN shop on other websites and stores like Topshop, Warehouse, TEMT, to name a few. At the end of the day, after my usually quite expensive shopping trips (let’s be honest, being fat means no cheap clothes) I look good. Or at least decent.

Decent looking thanks to my Sabo Skirt dress and bag paired with a F21 Cardi.

But some days, it’s so tough to be okay with it all. Especially when you live in an Asian society.

Living in an Asian society means thin, wispy, helpless girls are in. It also means fat girls are the ones who get laughed at even as they try to stand out and embrace their curves. You’d think a progressive nation like Singapore would be more inclusive but it is not. Let’s all be honest: If you’re fat you’d never get far. Asian girls aren’t meant to be fat. Asian boys don’t like fat girls and Singapore simply isn’t made for fat people. You are forever conscious of your arms jutting out from the side of aisle bus seats, of jostling your MRT seat neighbours, of squashing yourself to the left of the escalator least your arm gets barged into by a commuter. Our society is a thin society, and I stand out in the worst way possible. Our society, unlike the Americas or Australia, is a judgmental society.

Advertising doesn’t help either. Take SkinnyMint Tea for example:

How does this prove that your tea helps with weightloss??? Their spokespersons are all these stick-thin “inspirational” models who boast 40-something kg weights and have SGsexy faces.

Come one, let’s all be honest here: Those teas don’t help you lose weight. And these advertisements kinda say, “wanna drink this tea? You gotta look like “insert generic SGsexy, 40-something kg blogger”.

Good for those people who have achieved weight loss through this pseudo-magical tea, but I’m not buying the spiel. The site has two types of spokespersons that convince me that the tea will never work: one type look like they’ve been thin all their lives and the others look like the work out like a beast every few days.

Come. On. How can one feel good when even weight loss products are marketed for skinny people?! Ridiculous. This just tells me that even companies who claim to help you lose weight can’t prove their worth to people who actually NEED to lose weight.

Look, I’m not saying I want to be dumpy the rest of my life. I try to work out, I run in my office gym, I avoid soda except on weddings or super special occasions, and I enjoy yoga occasionally. But ya know.. Losing weight doesn’t happen overnight and sometimes it doesn’t happen at all. I’m not hard pressed to be model-thin, I rather be healthy and happy, rather than depressed and anxious about losing weight all the time. I want to be accepted and I want to start by accepting myself first.

I hope Singapore starts to accept this too. You can start small, introduce new sizes into cheaper stores, I’d also like to be able to have more wedding dress options and go into a store without having to ask, “I’m a UK14.. Would you have to have my size?” I’m usually told that the company has only a small range. *sigh*

But I’d definitely appreciate more clothes for what counts as plus size in an Asian society. I’m glad that blogshops like 1214 Alley are popping up.

I want to be able to afford cool clothes too you know?

So my stand, at the end of this long rant, is this: Thanks to all my secondary school bullies that have given me a thicker skin, I don’t think I would be where I am without you today. Most importantly, I accept myself for who I am, for who I’ve become and what I look like.

And to the guy who facebook messaged me saying that he’d like to get to know me cause he likes chubby girls. Thanks…? I guess?

Hi guys, if this post has made a difference to you or helps you realise that you’re not alone in feeling fat in Singapore.. Please share this post. Hopefully, it’ll let others know that they’re not alone too. Cheers! – Amanda

Hello, for everyone who thinks this is a post about “I’m fat and I’m proud of it”. You ARE NOT READING MY POST CAREFULLY ENOUGH. This is simply a reminder for everyone, especially myself, to love yourself. Sure you should lose weight! Sure you should make the effort to exercise regularly and eat clean, but why do it because you hate your body? You should do it because you LOVE yourself.

Secondly, please don’t assume I don’t know what it is like to lose weight, I have done so and I was – and still am – very happy that I did so. I still want to continue, but it’s a work in progress. I’m just tired at looking at myself and counting the many more kilos I need to go. Why can’t I love myself? Are y’all saying cause I’m fat I should be denied that right? Crazy.

I’m gonna love the shit out of myself and buy myself some nice clothes cause I love myself THAT MUCH.

P.S. I’m sorry if seeing fat people in the streets offends you. Clearly you need to go to the land-that-does-not-exist where everyone is a supermodel. As phrased by a clearly brilliant bitch, “I may be fat but I can lose weight, you’ll always be ugly”.

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