Opening Up About Not Feeling Skinny Enough

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I feel a little scared to write this. I was around twelve when I started weighing myself on the scales. I ran in the morning before school, and straight after school when I got home. I drank a lot of water and I ate as much as I liked because my metabolism was a skyrocket. When I left home at sixteen, I developed signs of an eating disorder. I would skip meals, exercise a lot, eat slowly, document what I was eating, weigh myself several times a day, obsess over my BMI and drink a lot of water to feel full. I had depression, anxiety and a fear of gaining weight.

When you grow up with people telling you that you’re skinny and that it’s said as a compliment, there is this pressure that stays inside your mind to maintain that body image. However, now that I’m in my twenties, my body is naturally changing. My metabolism isn’t what it used to be, and I feel more aware of eating healthy and having an active lifestyle. The beauty standard in Asia is to be very petite, but our bodies are all made differently. After many years of struggling with my weight, I feel the healthiest and happiest now. Surround yourself with people who love and support you, do the things that you enjoy and feed your mind with positive words.

There are days where I still struggle, but I know it’s not my true self. The true voice in myself says that your self-worth comes from who you are as a person, and it has nothing to do with the number on the scales. I don’t want to be defined by my weight, but by what I can bring into the world. The title really speaks about my teenage years. In the past, I went through a period where I was feeling a lot of hatred towards myself. I felt not worthy, and there was an overwhelming amount of worry and fear taking over my life. I felt like even though I was stressed, I could control my weight and what I ate. It’s not healthy, because then you end up neglecting your body.

I was 18 when I was living in Sydney in 2015, and it was a time where I really struggled with my body image. I remember gymming more and watching what I was eating. There was fear and insecurity during that period of my life. I felt incredibly lost. My anxiety was crippling at that time, and I really isolated myself. I was regularly going to the doctor and the hospital, and had a lot of health issues. When it comes to eating, I used to feel quite conscious at times when eating a meal in front of people, unless it’s those I’m very close to.

Our bodies are beautiful, sacred, precious and wonderful things that keep us moving, breathing and living life. I do think that it can be damaging if one compliments too much on a persons body size. When you grow up from a child being told that you’re so skinny and that it’s said as a compliment, it’s something that can really stay entrenched in your mind as you grow older. I know that my value lies in my heart, yet there are days where I stare in the mirror and feel a sudden fear of gaining any weight. It all starts in the mind. A persons weight can fluctuate when dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression.

Everyone has insecurities. We all have something inside and out that we’re conscious of. When I think about where I was previously, it was during a period where I was unhappy, and I felt like I wasn’t skinny enough (which was when I was the lightest). I rarely ate in the dining area in a previous flat a few years ago, because I literally didn’t want my flatmates to see me eating. It’s really been this year, where I’ve felt safe in eating in the dining area. It seems like something so small, but it’s a huge change. Since leaving home, there have been periods where I didn’t eat well. When I had feelings of stress, I felt like I didn’t have any appetite.

We often don’t emphasize it enough, but your health is truly your wealth. Without your health, you wouldn’t be able to wake up and conquer the day. You wouldn’t be able to experience this beautiful life. When I didn’t have a healthy mind, it started to affect my body and I felt weak, unmotivated and a loss of energy. It was during that time where I suffered from panic attacks and had very deep depression. Our thoughts are so powerful. When I started being more present, thinking positively and accepting myself as I am, I really felt set free from the cage I’d built inside my mind.

I’ve read so many stories about those who showed warning signs of anorexia, and during those periods where they were the lowest weight, was when they were the unhappiest. Being skinny won’t make you happy. It’s embracing where you are, right here, right now. Accepting yourself as you are. Being grateful for everything that your body has done for you. Being thankful for good health and waking up to a new day. Treating yourself with kindness, love and positive self-talk. I am at the healthiest weight this year. I feel the most energy and happiness this year.

There were feelings of not being good enough. After really surrounding myself with amazing people and being kinder to myself, I feel an overwhelming sense of peace. If you can’t love yourself first, how will you attract the right people into your life? Our life experiences can affect us deeply in how we see the world. But, I really think that we can all heal from hurt, even when it seems impossible. It’s really the simple things in life that give us the greatest joy. We have to come from a place of not judging others because everyone has and is going through something. It’s easy to see things on the surface and believe what we see. The most healing comes from the periods of silence. I really believe that time heals.

One of the biggest blessings is surrounding yourself with people who are uplifting, encouraging, motivating, positive and caring. They bring the best out of you. The people we surround ourselves with are important. Our bodies are a blessing. It’s important to refrain from commenting on someone’s body. I can’t emphasize how much it can have an impact on them. I really believe we have to remind ourselves that we are enough as we are. We truly live in such a visual world. People will constantly judge others based on their appearances, and it’s inescapable that the first impression we have of someone often comes from their physical appearances. But, we have to go beyond the surface and remember that every person we care about, we couldn’t care less about what they look like. I really hope if you are on a journey of healing and having a healthy relationship with your body, that you will realize how beautifully made you are.

When you go through a stressful period in your life or a hard season, know that there are people who care about you. I know that when I went through depression, I often felt like nobody cared and that there wasn’t a way out. But, there are so many people who love you, and often the first step is reaching out to others. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to talk about these things. Those who matter in our lives, are the ones who won’t judge you for your experiences. When I’m reminding myself of what’s important in life, I like to think of the words from The Little Prince: Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. If you are reading this and going through a hard time, know that wherever you are in your life you are enough.

Articles:

Why it’s not Always Smart to Lead with a Physical Compliment

What an eating disorder IS and ISN’T

Top 4 Things Recovery Has Taught Me

The Surface Doesn’t Always Reflect What’s Within

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tumblr_inline_mvl63vvZ4x1reoiz0I’ve wanted to write this article ever since hearing about Kate Spade’s passing, and wasn’t sure how to put it clearly in words. There is so much online negativity and online bullying that I wonder, is this a reflection of how many people feel inside? I remember talking to someone several days ago, and we talked about how easy it is for those who are hurting inside to appear just fine when seen in public. It’s easy to put on a smile. However, the internet now can also be a good and bad place for people to express themselves. It can be a place to share stories and encouragement, as well as a place for people to try tear others down and show their true colours.

It makes me think about how we don’t live in a perfect world, but we have the power to give support to someone in someway, no matter how small. Depression is invisible, in the sense that a person feels the pain so deeply inside, that it can seem hidden from the world. I’ve previously talked a little about my experience with anxiety and depression. I don’t take it lightly, and it’s such a serious topic that it makes me think how our society is at this stage. I’ve thought about this lately, because there is still a stigma attached and lack of understanding about mental health, even though many people will experience some form in their life time.

During my previous semester at uni, I did a report where we could choose our own topic. I chose to do it on youth suicide in New Zealand. It was heartbreaking and took a lot of my mental energy, and there were tears and facing reality. It was something I chose, because it’s something that’s not talked about in daily life, but it’s a huge issue in New Zealand. In 2013 I tried taking my own life, and this is not something I tell many people. Only 2 people I can say know this, and to write this is difficult. When I lived in Sydney, I had to go to the ED, because my panic attack was so bad that I thought I was literally going to die. I had depression for several years since 2009, and it’s been a long journey, but I feel the most content in my life now.

During my late teens I was self harming, and I felt a lot of inner turmoil. Now that I’m older, I realise that many people still view mental illness as there is something wrong with you. There is this feeling that people will look down on you. I really believe in my heart that the most important thing is to surround yourself with loving people, and no matter how long it takes, to learn to love yourself. It took me a long time to be where I’m at and truly love myself, and know that God loves me and my family and friends love me. Also, it’s important to say that your happiness and contentment in life can only be relied on yourself, and no other person.

I’m at a stage now where I think back and think, I shouldn’t of hurt myself like that, but at the time I felt so deeply hurt inside. I get sad when people say when someone suicide’s it’s so selfish. They don’t realise that the person is crying out for help, but feels like they’re drowning in water. They feel like they can’t escape that feeling, and feel there is only one way to stop the pain. They might feel like nobody cares, that the world is so cruel or that they don’t feel a sense of meaning or purpose. Even someone like Kate Spade who appeared to be so successful and have everything, felt empty inside. It really shows that money doesn’t buy you happiness. No materials of a nice apartment, clothing and so on can make us happy. It’s really the relationship we have with our self and others.

This is why we should all strive to be more understanding, patient, kind and loving. Nobody is perfect, but our daily interactions and the words we say have power.  I know that seeing someone smile at me can really make my day. Never be ashamed or afraid to reach out for help. You deserve to get help, and don’t ever feel embarrassed to feel the way you feel. I remember one year I felt so afraid, I stayed indoors a lot and it was suffocating. I lost so much faith in God and in myself, and I could feel that my life was crumbling because of that. We live in a judgmental world, but the truth is most people are more concerned about their own life. Everyone wants to be loved. When we focus on what we have, we realise that we have a lot. Focusing on lack and failure is what can cause depression to become more and more serious.

Growing up, I often got told “You’re such a happy person, Katie,” because I love to smile and laugh. However, it was also easy for me to smile and pretend I was okay, when I was really struggling inside. This is one of the most important posts I feel the need to write because it means so much to me. It’s really something that I want to say, in terms of reaching out, asking for help and taking action no matter how difficult. Counseling, talking to a close friend or family or someone that you can trust without having any judgment. We live in a superficial and shallow world. I really feel that sometimes. The amount of teenagers who have self harmed, or the amount of youth that feel depressed are so much more common than we know.

I was at work last night, and the last customer was an elderly man. I said “You are so brave, coming out in the cold weather,” it must of been 6 degrees, or at least it felt like it was. He said that as he grows older, he knows that we have to make the most of each day, no matter whether it’s hot or cold. I’ve had many cold days where I used to have a panic attack almost everyday, and cry from anxiety. However, I truly believe that we can all set ourselves free, and live a meaningful life. Depression really puts you in a cage, and it makes you convinced that you can’t do this or that. If you know someone who is going through a mental illness, pray for them and believe they will heal. The truth is, no matter how much we want to help, it’s a journey that has to be overcome by the person themselves.

Everyone has personal things in their life going on, and it’s so easy to see what’s only on the surface in a digital age. We judge quickly, we make assumptions and we live in a visual society. We put too much value on how things look, rather than how things feel. We see things from the surface, rather than from the heart. We all have the ability to be supportive and caring, and it’s important to reach out if you need to, because sometimes those who care about us most might not know how much one might be hurting inside. Negativity robs us of life’s contentment. Everyone goes through ups and downs, and it’s really okay to cry, tell someone you trust about it or reach out for help. Your personal well being and health is the biggest priority. A person’s life is so valuable and precious, and your life matters.

If you need help, please contact:

• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 – Provides 24 hour telephone counselling

• Youthline: 0800 376 633 or free text 234 – Provides 24 hour telephone and text counselling services for young people

• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (4pm – 6pm weekdays)

• The Lowdown: thelowdown.co.nz – website for young people ages 12 to 19.

If you need a friend to talk to, please don’t hesitate to email me at katiepassionfruit@gmail.com

Art by Midori Yamada

My Journey And Relationship With Food

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I was watching the video below by It’s Jcanana. I could relate to what she was saying, and it made me think of my own journey with food. As it’s something so personal, it’s easy for other’s to think from the outside “Why should you be self conscious, you’re quite slim.” I really wanted to write this for a long time, and over the years I’d written a few drafts and always ended up not posting them. However, I feel that it’s the right time to write it out. Growing up, I often heard the similar words of, you should eat more and you’re so skinny. I feel that it’s not a compliment, and shouldn’t be, and sometimes it was said that way and other time’s it was said unkindly. It gave me a certain pressure to sustain the weight I was, even though I was in my early teens.

I remember going to markets or clothing stores, and older ladies telling me that the clothes are more likely to fit me than them. I ate very healthily growing up while I was at home, but at the same time I exercised a lot. I woke up every morning before school to go for a run, and every afternoon after school. I drank a lot of water, and generally lived a healthy lifestyle. However, in that aspect I was wanting to be fitter, but I was also wanting to maintain my weight, while still eating as much as I wanted to. It was when I left home at 16 when I became more preoccupied with my weight and body image. I went through a difficult time during 2013 where I hit rock bottom, and I fell into depression. I rarely ate a lot at the uni hall I lived at, and often didn’t have dinner.

When I lived at the hall, I’d buy cereal from the supermarket, and just eat those. I was going to the gym and exercising more, but following my second year, I was eating more, but I ate a lot of oats and often just had that for dinner. When I moved to Sydney for two years, I lost the most weight that I had since my first year at uni. I’d always eaten mostly vegetarian, but it was during this time I decided to go fully vegetarian. However, it made me lose a lot of energy and affected my mood. Now, after doing a lot of research over the years, I eat mainly vegetarian. Last year I cooked a lot for myself, but I really do think the environment we’re in can greatly affect our mood. At the time I wasn’t so happy where I was, but this year is definitely the most happiest I’ve felt in my environment and in my lifestyle.

Last year I went through a period of time where I ate far too much sweets, as I was going through a period of time where I felt stressed. I think it’s so important to eat when you’re hungry, and never deprive yourself. Be in a positive environment, live a healthy lifestyle and gradually change your mindset towards your body through self talk. Self love allows us to nourish our mind, body and soul. It can be frustrating when people assume you aren’t healthy if you’re slim, if you happen to have a small meal you can be judged from it and being pointed out about certain body parts. One of the best changes I’ve made is being with people who are uplifting, and those who don’t focus on the outward appearances.

When you eat a healthy filling breakfast, it can really set the start of the day with a burst of energy. Don’t limit what you eat, but just eat until you are 80% full. We should try to judge less what someone’s body image is, and most of all ourselves. Most of us would never tell a friend that they should be skinnier, because we’d only wish that they are happy and healthy. That is why it’s important to be kinder, because often we can be the most hardest on ourselves. When I went through a period of time where my focus was so set on being at a certain weight, it was an unhealthy pattern and the cycle would continue, but I wouldn’t be truly happy.

Being skinny doesn’t make you happy. It’s the life you choose to live, making a delicious meal, surrounding yourself with positive people and the simple things that give us the greatest joy. We live in a judgmental and superficial society, and so there will always be people who will point out other’s appearances, compare themselves or judge them from the way they look. Our most beautiful self is in our mind and soul, and that kind of beauty takes time to discover from a person. The best that we can do is to be the best person we can be, and focus on living a good life. What is your relationship like with food? How has it changed over the years?

The Word ‘Skinny’ Shouldn’t Be A Compliment

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9a083fd2b05648ccd19a9adb2e17cd8aMost people who told me the words “My goodness, you are so skinny”, meant it as a compliment. There are only a few times where someone would say it with the words “Why are you so skinny?”, and that’s when it makes me realise how a simple compliment has many connotations behind it. Slim, thin and slender are seen as a positive across all the fashion magazine spreads and the ever many images we are exposed to growing up. As a young girl, I had my arms compared to twigs. My body felt judged and somehow they were very innocent words from other children, but it already emphasised the focus regarding ones body shape.

As with many young girls and boys, I grew up feeling self conscious of my body. It’s an internal voice we all have, in which others see us in their own way, and we see ourselves in our own way. They may be two vastly different perceptions. The judgment upon body image, can really spread the feeling of not feeling good enough about ourselves. However, with the voices of social media, many people are talking about body positivity and bringing attention the importance of self love. This is so important, in a day and age where many headlines or images tell us we are not good enough, even though we are beautiful as we are.

The same reasoning is applied when thinking about all different body sizes. Everyone is different. Every body is different. Skinny has been identified as something that is accepted and that is often taught from a young age from the people we see on film, magazines and TV. The word ‘skinny’ has such a damaging effect on young girls, who should know that they are beautiful the way they are. Skinny can influence people to have eating disorders or feel low self esteem for their bodies. I previously wrote an article about “Why Being Skinny Won’t Make You Happy”. Happiness is based on how we feel, not based on the way things look.

Many people ask me if I am vegetarian or if I eat less, and the simple answer is I eat healthily. There is a common misconception that being called skinny, means you limit how much you eat. The word with skinny in the media, is also an incredibly hurtful word. No matter how much a celebrity weighs during that time, they are either never skinny enough or they are too skinny, in which every headline tells us they must have anorexia. It’s disappointing that the judgment of others body image makes headline, because it has the ability to influence and warp others view on what is beautiful.

Growing up being called Skinny, actually made me feel not skinny enough. I would put pressure on myself to remain skinny. It sounds terrible, but that was the effect it had on me. I used to weigh myself every single day when I was still at home. Today, I really try to emphasise health on my blog a lot, because of my previous experiences. The reason someone is skinny can come with a range of reasons, that cannot resort to simply judging someone for being that way. The main reason commonly is that the person is born that way, they may have fast metabolism, some people may be suffering through an eating disorder or they are going through a stressful time in their life – that has caused extreme weight loss. The reasons are ongoing.

Our body types will not be the same, and that’s exactly what makes you beautiful. It’s sad to see many young girls write #goals all over images of women they depict as what should be beautiful. It causes excessive comparison. We deserve all the positive self talk and love for ourselves and for others to embrace our own bodies. Perhaps the next time you compliment someone, tell them how kind they are, how lovely their smile is or how beautiful their eyes are.

Photography by Sun Jun