Of Weight Loss, Body Shapes and The Land of In-Between

Hey, guys!

Been a hot minute since I last wrote anything about weight loss and body image. If you’ve been following this blog, you might recall that I talked about how tackling psychological issues might help with weight loss, and how you shouldn’t measure success based on the number on a weighing scale.

Well, I did step on a weighing scale recently (out of curiosity) – and I’m happy to say that I’ve shed a few pounds! Back in March, when I first started this ‘let’s-be-more-mindful-of-my-health’ thing, I weighed 78+ kg, or 172 lbs. Currently, it’s down to 73 kg (160 lbs). Yay!

I’ve been at 78 – 80 for such a long time, I honestly can’t remember when I was last at my current weight. While there’s still a lot to work on, I have to give myself a pat on the back (because self love, lol). Some people might say that five kilos in four months is slow and that I could have lost more, but hey. Progress is progress. After many failed weight loss attempts, this is by far one that I’ve stuck with the longest – and that should be an achievement to be proud of.

The most apparent reduction is in my belly, because some of my pants are actually loose now. I’m also feeling much better physically; I can walk faster and longer, and I don’t get winded so easily. The only discouraging thing is that the weight loss doesn’t show much in the parts where people actually notice, like the face (still round, still got that lovely double chin!) I told a friend about my weight loss while we were out for dinner recently and he went, “Really? I don’t see a difference.” BURNNNNNNNN 

But I digress. I actually wanted to talk about shopping. Lol. 

People are often quite surprised when they find out how much I weigh, mostly because I have quite a stout (?) build and it just looks like I’m big rather than obese (I guess in many people’s minds, 5’3 women who weigh 70 kgs and above must look like massive blobs or something). They forget that women’s body shapes are amazingly diverse, with descriptions running the gamut of everything from fruits (pears, apples) to objects (spoon, lollipops) – and that everyone carries weight differently.

Cover image: Anna Shvets via Unsplash

While clothing brands are picking up on the idea of diverse bodies, it is still quite difficult for big-sized people to find clothes that fit properly and don’t look like they’ve just thrown on a curtain and called it a shirt. While there are a number of plus-sized brands out there that offer bigger options, they are harder to find in Malaysia, and are often catered to those who are extremely large, like sizes 3XL and above. Regular clothing brands rarely have anything above a UK size 12. (For the record, I can be a size 12 to 16, depending on which brand I go to).

Even when I was thinner, I was quite busty. Basically a lot of chest and no butt. I did lots of squats to try and get that rounded ‘lift’, but it just didn’t work. This posed a problem when I was buying clothing. I actually hated shopping. Clothes would be too tight across the chest, and extremely loose everywhere else. The same thing for pants – the waist would be too loose, but the thighs and calves would be too tight. If I bought a loose-fitting shirt from the plus-sized corner, I ended up drowning in fabric, and it made me look much bigger than I actually was.

I call this the land of in-between. Not big enough to shop at plus sized stores, not small enough to go to the S, M, L section. 

I understand that you can’t get a one-size-fits-all when it comes to mass-produced clothing, but I wish there were more options on the market for people with bodies other than the conventional ‘petite’ or ‘large’ figure – especially here in Asia. Brands like H&M (coincidentally where I get most of my clothes) are more inclusive, but options tend to be limited – I find that not all of their outlets stock certain sizes, while some have designs that I like but unfortunately can’t buy because they won’t fit properly.

Only time will tell if brands here will pick up on the body diversity movement, although I think it is high time we get the conversation going in Malaysia. We as a society are still hung up with the idea of thin = healthy, when in reality, that is not always the case.

Let’s be clear though: I am not promoting obesity, nor am I body shaming anyone. I just think that we should all strive to being healthier, whatever our shape or size. You can’t tell me body positivity means accepting that someone is 600 lbs, unable to move around on their own and suffering from 10 different health conditions at once, that they should ‘love themselves the way they are’. Similarly, if someone is prone to starving themselves or going on crash diets to be thinner, that can’t be good either. I think the key should always be balance – find what works best for you, and take steps forward each day.

I’ve always looked at my body and weight in a very negative way, and it is only recently that I’ve started to change this unhealthy habit. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m hopeful that one day, I’ll be able to say with confidence that this is the body I’ve worked for, and that I’m happy with it no matter what others say –  as long as I feel good and healthy. 

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Until then, I guess I just have to shop harder. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

The Hype Is Real – Lush Finally Opens in Malaysia!

You can probably count on your fingers the number of beauty-related posts there are on this blog, lol. Not a beauty guru, and makeup isn’t really my thing.

But soaps. Soaps I love.

Basically me but with soaps.

When I heard that the UK-based beauty and cosmetics brand Lush was finally opening in Malaysia at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, I was pretty excited to go check out their store. Good thing I was in town because I would be lazy to drive all the way to KL otherwise, ha

It was the second day since their opening and the place was pretty packed even though it was the middle of the afternoon on a weekday. I can see why though….

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LOOK. AT. THIS. DISPLAY.

If the phrase “Like a kid in a candy store” applies, then this warrants “Like an Eris in a Lush store”. ok lame

But seriously. The colourful and attractive display immediately entices the shopper. I think it’s brilliant how they market it because the stuff doesn’t even have wrappers ffs. They’re basically naked. But it’s arranged in such a way that it looks appealing. Of course, there’s the whole “promoting zero waste” philosophy that they follow. Good thing for them is that it also helps to save on packaging costs.

And that, folks, is how you do marketing and sales. 

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Some Halloween/autumnal/Christmasy-themed bath bombs.

One thing you have to be prepared with when you visit Lush? Bring a pocketload of money. Never been to a Lush overseas, but I am told it is much more affordable (also because of the purchasing power la lol). A bar of 100g soap here will cost you upwards of RM45, while bath bombs start at RM35 per pop.

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Gift boxes for the holiday season!

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Corner for demonstrations, where you get to try the scrubs/soaps/creams/etc. The staff were really friendly and keen to assist.

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DEAR LORD HERE IT COMES MY FAVOURITE PART OF THE DAY LOL

There were so many exotic ‘flavours’ and scents to choose from – sweet, fruity, floral. A lot of them had quirky, tongue-in-cheek names like Baked Alaska,  and not all were ‘block’ shaped like a conventional soap bar. The Golden Pear, for example, was shaped like… a golden pear, lol. Everything looked creamy, rich, decadent and luxurious.

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These were frickin adorable and were aptly named Strawberry Santa. You know, if I saw this alone on a small stand outside I’d probably go wtf is this deformity but again….THE POWER OF MARKETING AND BRANDING

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More gift packs. You can also customise your own.

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I was really tempted to buy the shower jelly (right) because it felt squishy and cold. Apparently you can put it in the fridge but my mom would kill me if the scent of strawberry somehow seeped into the chicken ew

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Lush’s soaps are handmade –  they even have the name of the artisan on them! The ones on sale in the Malaysia store are imported from Japan.

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Looks more like a creamy block of butter or cheese that you can eat > soap lol.

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Shampoo bars in various colours and scents.

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Pic when less busy

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In the end, my limited budget allowed me to buy ONE bar of soap. Not a big fan of citrus-y scents, but since I love honey, I got the Honey I Washed The Kids, which featured a really sweet, pleasant scent. I’ve been using it for a couple of days now and what I can say is the quality IS much better than some of the commercial soaps which tend to splinter and sting. This was quite gentle on the skin and left a nice, lingering smell. My bathroom also smells like honey!

That, or maybe I’m just trying to justify spending RM45 on a bar of soap.

LUSH

Lot 4.23.00, Level 4, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur

 

International Women’s Day: Thoughts On Respect

Happy International Women’s Day!

Have you wished your female friends/family members/colleagues today? It’s always nice to know that we are in your thoughts, and that you appreciate the work we do/the role we play in society and on a more personal level, your lives.

That being said, I want to talk a bit about what happened to me this afternoon.

Day started out great. Got nice messages from friends and colleagues on Whatsapp, and a waiter wished me when I grabbed coffee from the cafe.

Come lunch time, I thought of walking to the neighbouring business district for some grub. The place was about 1km away, but I had been sitting on my butt all day and needed to stretch my legs.

Now, I need to point out that because I’m going for an event tonight for work, I dressed up better than my usual sweater/jeans/casual clothes. I’m wearing a simple navy blue dress with shoulders cut out, and a hem slightly above the knees. Not figure hugging. No cleavage. I consider this to be very decent for a cocktail party / formal event.  

I didn’t choose the boob life, the boob life chose me. Stop punishing me for it damn you

Nothing happened while walking to the cafe, but it was while I was walking back and waiting at a corner to cross the road when a bike slowed down. The rider looked me up and down, wolf whistled loudly, before driving off.

I was livid. If I could have chased his bike down and hurled him onto the asphalt, I would.

I am sick and tired of men putting women in uncomfortable situations in public. Wolf whistling or catcalling is not a compliment. We are not going to blush and giggle and think “ohmygod, a random ugly-ass man on the street thinks that I’m pretty/sexy!”. We are not going to drop our panties and offer you sex. All you’re doing is making us feel unsafe and uncomfortable, through no fault of our own.

I hear the raging chauvinists out there protesting: “Well, if you don’t want to be catcalled, cover up!” “It’s your fault for dressing like that!”

Unless you want women to dress up in burqas, this, in my opinion, is perfectly decent. Then again, rape, catcalling and a general disrespect for women still happens in places like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, so wtf is your reasoning for that then? Oh, I know, keep the women at home and don’t show them to anyone other than members of the family. Sound familiar?

There is this oft quoted story that some of my Muslim friends like to tell, that the Prophet Muhammad averted his eyes and told his companion to do the same when they were met with a woman who was not as covered as they’d like her to be. The message is clear: control your urges, and not the other way around. A woman can be completely covered, but a bad person will always have bad thoughts because their attitude stems from a general disrespect for and the objectification of women.

Then there’s that other clan of meatheads screaming: “It was an innocent compliment!” “I’d love for women to catcall me!”

Now, think about your mother. Imagine yourself catcalling your mom. Or your sister. Or your daughter. Or some other dude on the street doing that while you’re walking with them. Maybe you sick fucks thinks it’s okay, but normal, decent human beings will not do that, and neither should you to other women.

So, Happy International Women’s Day. It’s great to have a day to commemorate women and the value they bring to a family, community and society. But go beyond just wishing, and educate others around you about the value of respect. Respect your mothers, sisters, friends, colleagues, strangers on the street. Until the day we can be free of gender discrimination and sexual harassment. Teach your children to have proper respect for each other from a young age, to stand up for what is right, and the world will be a better place in the future.

 

New Year Coordi

I haven’t posted a coordi in a long time, haven’t I? 

If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you’ll know that I gained a lot of weight this past two years, after I graduated from uni and started working. I recently lost half the weight, but there’s still halfway to go and I’m not getting any younger –  which means that I’ll have to work even harder to get my fitness level up to par again.

Along the way, I’ve learnt to change my views about my body and my self in general. Before this, I kept beating myself up for being ‘fat’, as some of my family and friends called me – I don’t blame them; they are thin and the Southeast Asian community in general has a horrible habit of fat shaming ingrained into society. At the same time, I KNEW I was fat due to my own unhealthy eating habits, lack of exercise, stress and deep seated issues which I had to face. I had been stuffing myself to ease the depression and emotional pain… and until I faced them head on, I would just continue down this spiral of self loathing and unhealthy bingeing.

So I did something. And today, there are results. I am happy, but I’m even happier knowing that if I keep on this right track, I’ll be at my peak health and fitness in no time.

Now that I’m feeling much more confident about myself, allow me some vanity. I mean, I’m not gonna be in my 20s for long, you know – and they do say this is the best you’ll ever look in your entire life.

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I went shopping after work today at Nu Sentral in KL, where they have a H&M, which is my favourite outlet for their nice designs and affordable clothing. The cutting suits me well too because many stalls that sell free size clothing are made for extremely petite (read: XXS or XS sized) women – and you can definitely tell from my frame that I am not 😀

(Above) My work outfit : The blazer from Primark (13£) and skirt from Padini were bought a long time ago. Just a year ago I couldn’t fit into them at all, but I’m happy to say I can wear them again! Good thing I didn’t throw them away. Grey turtleneck and boots from H&M.

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Please excuse the vanity 🙂

I liked all of the items, but they were expensive so I had to choose carefully to stay within budget lol.

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So finally, this is the look I chose for the New Year.

I know, we’re supposed to wear red for Chinese New Year, but it’s a good thing my fam doesn’t really care lol.

I love the owl print shirt, it’s breezy and cool and has an oriental look. The slim fitting pants were also a steal at RM49.90.

 

Do You Like You? – Perceptions of Beauty and Self-Image

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Cute? Wait til you see how the foot looks like underneath the wrappings

In ancient China, women bound their feet in an elaborate and painful process since birth, breaking and re-breaking the toes so that they form perfect ‘three-inch golden lotus feet’ – a mark of beauty, grace and wealth.

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If this isn’t painful, I don’t know wtf is

In Victorian times, English women strove to achieve the ‘wasp waist’ via corsets, some of which were tightened so strongly that they would break several ribs in the process.

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But no matter….. all in the name of beauty, right?

I think human beings are imbued with a natural instinct to seek out ‘beautiful things’. Since we first clothed ourselves and started civilisation, our perceptions of beauty have evolved through the ages. What is beautiful in one era, or in a particular region, might not be for another.

The bottom line is people, especially women, have gone to extreme lengths to achieve this ideal of beauty and perfection. I’m not saying men don’t, but in most societies, it is always women – because despite progressing tremendously from being a patriarchal society, we are still deeply-rooted with a caveman-like tendency – where women seek out those who are able to ‘protect’ them. Since most men are visual beings, it is only natural that women will want to look ‘the best’, to beat out competition and secure the perfect mate.

What have we learned a few hundred, a few thousand years down the road? Nothing much has changed. In my opinion, technology and connectivity has only intensified the impossible quest of achieving beauty ideals. If you were a woman in medieval England, your ‘latest fashions’ would probably mimic what the court ladies in London have on – and that was that.

In today’s world, however, we are constantly bombarded with ‘latest fashions’ and images of ‘beautiful women’, which are further manipulated by self-serving corporations so that you will continue spending money on trying to reach that ideal. The fact of the matter is that you are not meant to achieve it in the first place.Case in point? Watch the video below on Photoshopping models.

It is scary that this is the sort of stuff that young girls and adult women are being exposed to everyday, even subtly. The fashion and retail industry thrives on using these images and subliminal messaging, to encourage people to buy their products. From skincare to weight loss, everything is about being beautiful so that you may live a happier life, so that others may like you and treat you with respect, so that you may be more successful, etc.

Anorexia and bulimia cases have been documented since a few hundred years ago, but it is only intensifying today, in this modern age. And you can’t say that media and society’s pressure against its women do not play at least a small part in it.

Growing up, I have always been confused about my self-image. Somewhere along the line, I must have inherited a big-boned gene, because my parents were super tiny Asians and I was, well.. broad-shouldered and chunky. Am I adopted ?  I wasn’t an outstanding looking person either – just your average, bespectacled Plain Jane. Having to grow up among skinny classmates and friends was tough, and being told that I wasn’t thin enough was tougher. Despite being healthy at that time, I was constantly told by (well-meaning but doing it in all the wrong ways) relatives that I was gaining weight, that I shouldn’t be eating so much, etc – just because my body was slightly bigger than theirs. But hey, that’s what I was talking about earlier – about how it is partly society’s fault that we have such fucked up views about beauty these days.

As you have probably read in my previous posts, I gained a lot of weight this past year, which made it even worse because now my relatives can openly chide me about being fat (I was lingering between being average and chubby before). Of course it is hurtful to hear those things. Of course I am pressured to lose weight partly because I want them to shut up. But my main motivation now, as compared to in my teenage years, is that I want to be healthy. Looking fab is a plus. I realised that back when I was of average weight, I was pressured into believing that even though I was healthy, I was not thin. When I was thin, I was pressured into believing I did not have the right skin tone (I’m quite tanned for an Asian), and if I ever became fair from hiding from the sun everyday, I guess they would have talked about something else.

The point is, people will always, always tell you that you are not beautiful enough. The Media will always tell you that you need to be thinner, be taller, be fairer, be skinnier. The point is you should not let them pressure you into hurting yourself or going to extreme measures to conform to a standard of beauty that is impossible to attain.

That being said, the phrase ‘love yourself for who you are’ is important. BUT. It is not an excuse to let yourself go completely in the name of ‘not caring what everyone else thinks’. If you are overweight and at risk of diseases, ‘loving yourself’ should be hitting the gym and losing the extra pounds so that you can live a healthier, more fulfilling life.

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By the way, I was at a clinic for my dermatitis treatment the other day, and what inspired me to pen down these thoughts was basically this poster, which had a model with an impossible waist. She looked like she was going to snap into half if the wind was a little stronger. And this was at a professional health and cosmetics clinic, so I felt that they could have given a better message. This is what women walking into the place strive to achieve by spending thousands on cosmetic treatment, and then feel bad about themselves when they can’t achieve the impossible. But until the day that society itself realises that we are not perfect and we will never be, our women will continue puking into toiletbowls, going for skin whitening, starving themselves, all in the name of beauty.

Never

I have never been a girly girl.

Even as a child, I was the bratty one that climbed trees, hung out with boys and wouldn’t think twice about sticking my nose where it didn’t belong. My mum gave up braiding my hair in kindie and just cut it boy-short, since I always came back with my ponytail undone anyway.

Although she’d put me in cutesy little dresses, I’d often (accidentally!) tear holes in them, or else sit with my legs so wide open (yeah, I didn’t know what modesty was .___. ) that she’d be embarrassed to bring me anywhere.

My toys were mostly those that cater to both genders – Lego, Play doh, Monopoly, Scrabble. The one and only time they got me a Barbie, I sheared half of her hair off and drew over her face and legs with blue ball-point so she would seem like an ‘Amazon warrior’ (I saw that on TV somewhere and thought it was really cool, so). Mi shouted at me for half an hour, then told me I’d never get another doll in my life again.

When I finally went to high school and hit puberty, I started noticing guys more. Friends told me that boys didn’t like girls like me – with my super short hair, rolled up sleeves and my habit of pulling up my baju kurung’s kain as I walked because it was so bloody long I would stumble otherwise. Back in the early 2000s, we didn’t have the term ‘friendzone’ yet, but I guess that would have been my fate – unless I did some drastic action.

So I let my hair grow really long, started to take an ‘interest’ in makeup, and such.

But despite how I changed my appearance and attempted to like girly stuff…   I was still, well, unladylike. I swore like a sailor and would avoid wearing skirts because it was just so much trouble to mind the way I walked, or sat, or did things.

I ended up graduating high school with my hair super short again.

Then came college. I had my first  long-term relationship with a guy.. who, despite my tomboyishness, saw something in me that he liked.

Although he never said it, 17-year-old me assumed that he’d be ashamed to take me out to meet his friends, who all had these demure, sweet, presentable other-halfs. And then there was me with my beanies and sneakers and baggy shirts/jeans.

So, I grew my hair long again. I tried wearing heels and wearing make-up. Most days I forgot, but I tried really hard. I felt happy when people praised me on how ‘different’ I looked and how much I’ve ‘grown up’.

Five years later, we parted ways. It was a meaningful relationship, and even though it didn’t work out, I was glad for it because it taught me a lot about myself. He taught me that I didn’t have to change to please others, and that those people who really loved me, would love me for being.. well, me. Short hair, makeup-less face, uncouth ways and all.

These days, I occasionally put on makeup and wear heels to work, because the job requires me to. But most times, I forget I have eyeliner on and end up smearing it and looking like a hot mess, or trip and knock something over while I’m wearing my heels, etc. That will probably be how I always am.

And I find I don’t mind as much.

 

 

PS: This was a very lengthy post on why I like wearing boots instead of heels. Now stop asking why I never wear heels, people!