Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Body Hate

I'm not skinny.  My sister is, a lot of my friends are - but I'm just not.  Even if I didn't eat as much as I do, my legs still wouldn't look long and willowy, I would still feel self conscious in one of those tie-up tops; my waistline wasn't built to be shown off.  It doesn't matter if I have curves or if I have strength - I will never be able to try on one of those pretty little dresses with pinching waists, or skirts with tucked in tops, and look amazing.

I know big butts and muscle are meant to be in right now, but in my culture and my family they hate it.  Being slim and fair is considered beautiful, and although I don't consider the colour of a complexion an indicator of beauty, I can't help but feel a pang of unworthiness when a dress doesn't look right on me, or when my mum says, "I want to get this for my other daughter.  She's so slim and nice."

Being in Malaysia doesn't help at all.  In Australia I can fit into smalls, but that's because I'm short so I automatically look proportional.  Here, where I'm taller than everyone, the fact that I'm not model skinny already makes me look seemingly big, and around frank relatives who aren't afraid to state their opinions, it's scarring to the way I see myself.

I eat too much.  I know that.  I've noticed that whenever something it put in front of me, I gobble it up as quickly as I can, and while everyone else is still finishing, I can't help but reach for more.  The thing is, when you're eating so fast you don't take notice of how full you are until you're finished and can barely walk anymore.  That's me everyday, and although I'm not diagnosed with any kind of eating disorder, sometimes I become melodramatic and think I may as well have one.

One of my friends said to me once, when I was complaining, "Don't make your eating special.  It's no different from anyone else's." and she does have a point.  A lot of people suffer from this lack of self control and I'm sure you all relate to eating out of boredom and breaking down on a block of chocolate and feeling extremely guilty after.  This seems to happen to me everyday in different ways, and I finish my day feeling disgusting and motivated to change only for the cycle to begin again.

It's just so difficult when the cupboard is filled with chocolates and biscuits and those delicious creamy wafers, the fridge with cakes and the laundry room with all kinds of chips.  My family's just one of those unhealthy ones.  I don't have a mother who doesn't allow junk food - she buys them on sale, my dad eats fast food probably more than twice a week, and my sister is so skinny that my family feels the need to pile food into the house in a failed attempt to make her put on weight.  I know I should be able to work around this, but it's just so so hard.

Malaysia is like that situation on steroids - because I swear that in this country they don't know the definition of healthy.  Meals are just carbs with spices, and they seem to happen every hour or so.

I can feel the fat gathering in my arms, my belly and my thighs.  It's gotten to the point where I will feel around my waistline and try gathering all the fat in one handful at the front.  Is the remainder how skinny I could be if I tried?  Because it's not very.

I look at photos of muscled backs and bikini abs on Instagram, I watch the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, there's some girl with really nice legs on Justin Bieber's Instagram, and I want nothing more than to shed all that fat and have a 'tight body' as my current book likes to describe it.  And the thing about 'tight bodies' is that anybody can have them.  It's just muscle and not a lot of fat, so work out more, eat less: easy peasy right?

And I know looking after your body makes a real difference.  I know I feel amazing if I've worked out and stayed away from the junk - but that hasn't happened for a while and I feel like trash.  I feel like I'm just filled with toxins and I wish there were an easy way out.

Sometimes I tell myself that eating is worth it because I love it so much, and what kind of person would I be to deprive myself of something I genuinely enjoy doing.  So I eat and I eat and then afterwards I tell myself it wasn't worth it and I shouldn't have done it because I'm better than that.  I shouldn't feel guilty for every bit of food I put in my mouth, but I shouldn't overdo it either.  I have this stupid love hate relationship with food and it really shouldn't be this hard.  How do people stay healthy?  How do they do it?

And working out isn't even a problem for me.  If I tell myself to work out every day of the week, I will.  I will run as far and fast as I ask myself to, and I will do all my crunches, hold the plank for as long as the goal I set, swim all my laps - but none of it matters.  What you eat is what you are, or it determines 80% of it at least.  No matter how strong I make myself, if the fat is there, it's there.  And even if it's gone, my bones will be there to determine my shape and I can't do anything about that.

I know I should love my body for the things it's capable of doing, but I don't think I appreciate it enough.  It seems as if in my culture, in my family, strength isn't factored in as part of your body.  It's weight that matters, even if most of that weight is muscle.  My mum has said countless times, "I was smaller than you when I was your age."  And she was.  She wasn't able to run as fast or do pushups or burpees, but she was still smaller.

And maybe as we grow older I will still be able to go for my jogs while everyone else's metabolism goes down as they begin to understand my struggle, or maybe not.  Either way, I still won't be skinny.


Sunday, 27 December 2015

All the Lonely People

Christmas Eve was spent at a Japanese restaurant with a mass of relatives taking up 4 tables.  It was the first time we saw the Ls and at first it felt like an us and them - but soon I was joking around and experiencing one of the reasons I love coming to Malaysia once again.  I ate my heart out and joked about being pregnant, which I feel happens way too often nowadays, and we went up to the rooftop where we stood on a glass floor at least 5 stories up, looked over the skyline, and it was hot and sweaty and we took a very many oily faced photos.

I feel like the Grinch in the sense that I keep getting annoyed at all the Christmas songs on the radio and all those seasonal posts.  But then, I also feel like some kind of deluded elf, sending out Christmas messages to almost everybody and being overly excited for present-opening.  This year I seem to be more excited about watching my present recipients than actually opening my own presents - which can only be a good thing.  

I love how I never stress about Christmas because I know I'll be with my family and they'll be with me.

Something I've noticed about this side of the family, consisting of grandparents, uncles, aunties and cousins who altogether add up to around 15 people, is that it's overly inclusive.  We can't even trek through the rainforest without taking my grandma along.  If one person is missing from one of our many group photos at un-airconditioned Chinese restaurants we have to retake the photo.  It's just so different from any other group I've ever experienced being a part of.  We didn't choose each other but we were born into this group, and because of that we will always be connected no matter what happens.  I will always have someone to spend Christmas with no matter what happens.  They will always love me even if no one else will, and that makes me feel content.

The other day I was joking to my mum about some article I saw in her Women's Weekly magazine titled, "How to Avoid Disappointment on Christmas Day," to which she replied that according to statistics most suicides happen during this holiday period.  It's because the expectation is that you spend Christmas with other people, specifically family, and when you're alone you're reminded of how lonely you are.

In some ways I feel incredibly smug that I have many someones to spend this day with, and I feel reassured that of all the annual celebrations I'm doing this one right.  On the other hand though, I can't imagine how it must feel sitting in a room all alone, reminded that you have absolutely no one.  I can't imagine what it would be like having absolutely no one, period.  And I'm scared that one day I might be on the wrong side of the world and I might have no one where I am, and then I really would be alone.  I don't want Christmas to become like my birthday: a day with a buildup of psyching myself up for disappointment.

I reckon being utterly alone is the most terrible way one could live.

On Christmas morning we followed my aunty and cousin to church, and while my dad is catholic, the rest of us don't really identify as anything - hence why we never take the bread at communion.  I do reckon it's arrogant for us to believe there is no form of higher being though, so I guess in that sense I do believe in God.

The Priest said something about how the point of buying presents isn't about giving a person exactly what they want, seeing as they're able to buy it for themselves if they really want it, but it's more about the idea that it's something from you.  It's the idea that you care enough about them to give them a gift.  I know I feel amazing whenever a friend gets me something - and I love whatever they gave me simply because it's from them.

The Church was filled with the singing and instinctive responses of a huge community of people from the same sector of the same city.  Although I may have found the allegations towards our obligation to completely worship the Lord a bit extreme, what matters is that this religion brings people together so that they are never really alone on Christmas day.  In the same way, believing that this day serves a higher purpose, and that a higher being is always with us, can make people feel less alone.

I actually genuinely reckon you can't be truly alone on Christmas day.  The people of this world are generally inclusive, and even if you don't have a built in family, there are always places you can go.  There will always be some open community to join or some other lonely soul out there.  And anyway, other people's happiness shouldn't remind you of your sadness.  Just rejoice in the fact that most of the world is rejoicing too.


Thursday, 24 December 2015

Kuching Means Cat in Malay

Kuching, Borneo

To be honest, I am loving life.  I think the holidays bring out the best in my mood.  A month away from home and anxiety wreaking people, visiting new places with not a single thing needed to be done.  I'm currently in Kuching where there are coconut trees and beautiful rainforests all around us.  In the distance there's this majestic mountain we have nicknamed "pregnant woman mountain" because its silhouette looks like a pregnant woman.

My only concern is that I'm not living in the moment.  I seem to be both filming snippets for my long Malaysia video and taking photos for a blog post at the same time.  Am I constantly looking through a lens?  But in a way, maybe I'm visiting these places to create a piece to see again and again.  I don't think I know how to just look at something beautiful without recording it.  I also hate how I hunt for wifi even when I don't need it.  What is my preoccupation with being connected to home when I love escaping it so much?

Damai Beach Resort

Mount Santubong (Mount Pregnant Woman)

I am annoyed at the rain.  It rained this morning when I was planning on going swimming, resulting in my extremely bloated state - which could also be blamed on my consistent love and low will power when it comes to food.  It rained in the cultural village, where I practically ended up going swimming anyway; and it rained tonight while we were walking through the undesirable city of Kuching to the car.  The rain ruins all kinds of exploring.

Sarawak Cultural Village

Kuching City and Waterfront

These relatives are so incredibly difficult to travel with.  Aunty C and family are so opposed to walking even the slightest distance, yet Grandma and Grandpa, who walk at a snail's pace, aren't.  They're also so incredibly rude, yelling at the poor hotel staff over all the little specifics and even making lists of all the wrongs they could possibly point out.  It makes me proud of Mummy's kindness and Daddy's friendliness.

Bako National Park

We experienced a roller coaster of a boat ride because it's monsoon season.

I feel as if I'm somewhat opposed to the Malay culture rather than proud.  I feel this stupid sense as if I'm above them.  But when I read the first page of my diary, where I refer to "tumblr eggs benedict" I realise I'm not that different to my cousin at all, and yet I feel like laughing when she's so adamant about ordering eggs benedict and taking photo after photo.

When I see Malay boys and girls my age on the streets of Kuching I hold my head high like a snob.  If they laugh about something I assume I'm miles above whatever joke they may have made.  Perhaps it's the fact that I know this country's government is corrupt, or that this is a third world country, but I need to remember: Daddy was once exactly like them.

Gua Angin and Fairy Cave

For some reason bargaining for souvenirs seems to be the family's favourite form of shopping, so here's a little video I made out of the sheer boredom felt by all persons under 40 in the family.
(in 2 parts because I have just discovered how inconvenient blogger is when it comes to uploading videos)