Since I was a kid, I had been called many things: baboy, taba, tabachoy, damulag, dambuhala, tambukikoy. These are Filipino words used to poke fun at fat people. But in 2012, I felt like I was the happiest person on earth. People no longer called me names. I’m finally able to fit on clothes at ready-to-wear shops. From 120 kilos, I went down to 85. My waistline shrunk from 44 to 34. I could borrow my brothers’ clothes. And I said goodbye to double X apparels! I’m size M! Boy, that was the best feeling ever!
The fat/body shamers
But just I thought there’s nothing to worry about, people started noticing the changes in my body — in a negative way. You have so many stretch marks, your body is sagging. You need to do sports, your body seem to be as soft as jelly. I mean, hello, how would I lose weight if it weren’t for sports?
And there were still people whose first topic for every conversation would be: hey, you’ve gained weight haven’t you? Have you been eating a lot lately?
It’s these kind of questions that get on my nerves.
Why on earth do these people seem to talk like they own my body?
Of course, I always make an effort to keep my composure whenever I encounter these kind of people. But, whenever I’m alone in my room, I would take off my clothes and stand before the mirror. I see a very fat guy. I would stare at him like it were another person whom I hate. I called him names. Although in reality, that guy is me, a guy who’s fat no more.
My desire to lose weight went on. I would eat only small amounts, weighed myself each morning (or whenever I pass by a clinic or a pharmacy). I would swim everyday, and at night I would jog. Takut gemuk, the fear of gaining weight…or in the words of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association: anorexia nervosa.
My weight loss obsession
In 2015, my body weight reached 80 kilograms, the lightest I’ve ever had. My body mass index was at 21.7. I was negative three points away from being clinically underweight.
And I knew things were not going right. My body spoke to me. At night, I could not sleep well. The night breeze felt like it was nibbling the bones in my elbows. I could not sit for a long time; the bones in my buttocks felt like it was piercing my behind.
While I never consulted an expert to declare that I was flirting with anorexia nervosa, I knew that I was at the brim of this eating disorder. But not all people are as lucky as me. Anorexia has the highest fatality rate of any mental illness. It is estimated that 4% of anorexic individuals die from complications of the disease.
How I saved myself from anorexia
However, one thing I’ve learned in life is that people will always have things to say; and they’re not really aware of the consequences. We must recognise that not all people think of the consequences of the words they say. And it is not your problem. It is theirs. People think that it’s okay to say that you’ve gain weight, even if they have not actually weighed you. It does hurt, but hey, at least you know you’re aware that the words they say are do not represent reality. In cases like this, the only way to know whether you’re fat or not — is by actually stepping on that weighing scale because numbers do not lie.
Also, ultimately, the best person who should be responsible for your own body is no other than yourself.
As someone who has studied sociology for more than ten years, and having learned that our environment bears a huge impact on who we turn into, I realised that there is no use of spending my luxury of time with people who rub into my face that I’m fat. Because I am not. I have known that three years ago, when I stepped into that store to try on medium-sized clothes. I have defeated obesity. And there is no use to be with people who will do no good — but to push you into the pits of anorexia, a disease that I might have been suffering for all these years. Similarly, think of them like unnecessary weight, they do will need to go…
…because whatever people will have to say….there is only one thing that matters the most:I have been successful in battling obesity. I have shed that critical body weight that I have been carrying for more than 20 years, that bodyweight people used to poke fun of me. I am happy with this bodyweight. No matter what people say.
My current body weight is 82.6 kilos. I am 192 cm tall. That means my Body Mass Index is 22.5, which is normal, according to the World Health Organisation.
So, am I thin or am I fat?
I do think that is not a question.
That shouldn’t be.
Photo courtesy of Benjamin Watson