If you love to visit The New York Times, Mashable, The Guardian, or any similar websites to catch up about what is happening in the world, you must have noticed the”A4 Paper Challenge” buzz trending in China few days ago. If you’ve not got a chance to check it out, don’t think it could be something similar with the “Ice Bucket Challenge”.
What is “A4 Paper Challenge”? It was how people proof themselves as paper thin by posting photos of themselves, with hiding their waist behind a vertical A4 paper, like this:
Few weeks before this challenge went wild online, “Belly Button Challenge” was another trendy phenomenon to check how skinny a girl is by “bending their arms around in order to touch their belly button and ‘reverse”.
Apparently, the standard of beauty in majority of Asian countries tend to value “skinny” over “sporty”. Instead of the tight muscle plus tanned skin tone, what’ve been featured on the media or in the department store are those whitening skincare products, or those mysterious detoxing and weight loss recipes.
How these things should be related to my story?
Back to the summer of 2013, my weight peaked around 140 pounds. That might be seen as a quite normal weight for a girl heighten 5.5 in Western culture, yet as you can tell from those challenges, I am a “plus size girl” if being judged by an Asian.
It was a normal summer night before the final exam, I finished my study, got on my way from the library to the parking lot. Suddenly I heard my name being called by a guy. As I turned around, it was a friend of mine that chatting with a group of his friends. After saying hi and a brief conversation to catch up, I decided to head to my car.
“She looks stocky like a female basketball player, or like an ox!”, my friend said to his friends.
I didn’t try to turn around to argue for anything, instead I got on my car, like nothing happened.
Right after I got back home, I put down my bag and laid myself down on the sofa. I can’t remember if that was the 500 or the 501 times I heard people judging my body shape. Not all of them were negatively; but this time, I felt hurt, as being judged like a commodity in front of the crowd of people. That was also the moment I decided to lose weight.
By strictly control my diet (I only ate 5 pieces of whole wheat bread, a glass of fat-free milk and some veggies, per day), plus physical exercised on daily basis, I lost 20 pounds in that summer. Frankly speaking, that was the first time ever in my life that I could be so dedicated about something.
I never know the 20 pounds I lost could make myself look that different. When the new semester began following that summer, many of my friends who came across me on campus asked me cautiously to see if I was having a hard time or suffering from some illness. Yes, I look different drastically.
But the more compliments I got from the surroundings, the more I questioned myself for the motivation to lose weight. Am I simply a superficial girl who only cares about what other people say? I could no longer feel the joy for eating my favorite Madeleine cookies, because the calories could let go the effort I put in the gym; I could no longer dine out with my best friends, because I had to restrict myself being a vegetarian; The more compliments I got, the more I wanted myself to look skinnier. It was almost like an abnormal cycle that dragged me down to the bottom.
I started to experience the reversed “Weight Loss Blues”, not because my weight stopped to drop down, but for the depression after I realized how much I care about other peoples’ judgments. Ironically, the depression I felt made me almost lost my appetite, I became skinnier and skinnier (My girl friends got jealous about this, a lot…).
It was not until the day I came across an Instagram account called “Girl Eat World” and saw this picture of takoyaki, I got my appetite back!
Melissa first started this Instagram account just for recording her journey from a perspective as a foodie, yet she’s never imagined that her photos triggered thousands of comments and likes on Instagram.
Not only for those adorable pictures and delicious stuff included in the photos, but for how much impacts this girl could make by sharing her foodie spirits with the world. Finally, I became realize that you never know how much love have the other people devoted to the things that you try to escape from or even hate for.
Not surprisingly, I rushed out from my home to a Japanese restaurant. That was the best-tasted takoyaki I’ve ever had in my life.
Yes, I gained a lot of weight after I picked up my appetite, but I enjoy the feeling of eating freely, without unnecessary worry about how much calories I just ate, how much hours should I spend in the gym today.
Yes, the definition of beauty varied, from person to person, from culture to culture; but being judged based on how much one weight, should not be the universal rule.