Tuesday, May 15, 2012

the skinny on skinny, or MOASB #5--by Haley

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To all of those voluptuous goddesses out there,

            Here’s the skinny from a skinny: Everyone can find something to hate about his or her body, including the skinnies out there. I certainly did.

            When I was twelve, my family moved to Bangkok, Thailand. For an awkwardly prepubescent girl, this was hell. I left the glories of forested Maryland to live in an entirely different world, one that was polluted, humid, and claustrophobic. I was a foreigner, ostracized for my fair skin and my foreign tongue. Compared to the natives, I was tall and big. Almost every Thai woman I’ve ever seen is a size 0 (until they reach 70, wherein they gain 100 pounds and lose 15 inches), which didn’t help a bit. To add a cherry to this scrumptious cake, my siblings and I were in a “hate-relationship” phase. My older hormone crazed fourteen-year-old brother was a nightmare. My seven-year-old sister was annoying. But what made things really difficult was my twin.

            When it comes to twin relationships, most people pigeonhole them into two categories: extreme besties (as in, you can’t pop, or even enter, their bubble of love), or extreme haters (that bubble popped the moment it formed). Lauren and I weren’t either. I didn’t hate her, but I certainly didn’t adore her. I just found the whole situation…weird. Imagine having two of you in your most awkward phase. Awkward Squared. We didn’t touch, (a high five was the only exception), we didn’t acknowledge each other’s problems, and we certainly didn’t say, “I love you.” We were just so uncomfortable.

            And too add some frosting to the cherry on this cake (I feel like I’m telling the story of the Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly…either that, or the Napping House), my twin and I were inherently jealous of each other. It’s a twin thing. When you have someone whose so similar to you, how can you not compare? I was always jealous of Lauren’s smarts. If anybody asked what was the difference between us, I would always think (but never say) Lauren was the smarter one. And Lauren would always think that I was the prettier one. Despite all of my mother’s pleadings, we could never see our own value. We only saw each other’s.

            Before you start tearing up, things did get a lot better. I quit swimming (which Lauren was much better at), and I joined cross-country. I also joined drama, an a cappella group, and a bunch of other clubs. I also started writing and directing my own plays! In short, I found myself.

            But things took a turn for the worse during my junior year of high school. My sister and I were competing in singing championships for schools across Southeast Asia. There were eight of us, and we each had to perform a solo, as well as two octets. Right before my solo, I tweaked a few parts (a hint to those performing in the near future, do not do this. Keep it steady and consistent), and I had totally forgotten to take into account my nerves. So when I was singing, these changes of dynamics instead became changes in intonation. It was horrible. And the judges totally butchered me alive. I was devastated. This is what I was good at, and I failed miserably. 

            So this may not seem like a big deal to some, but this was a critical moment for me. It was one of the triggers that later sent me plunging into clinical depression. The other trigger was just as silly, really. The weekend before, my sister and I took the dreaded ACS. We got our scores back a few weeks after, and I got in the 98th percentile! But Lauren got 2 points higher than me.

            It was at these pivotal moments that I finally lost my motivation. Why bother trying to do my best, when my best was never as good as Lauren’s? Here I had been thinking that I was just as wonderful as she was, but in reality, I was second in comparison. And I finally needed to accept it. So I learned to live with the fact that I hated everything about myself. I was nothing more than an ugly, stupid, flabby and emotional embarrassment to society.

            So what did I do? Well, I inadvertently swan-dived into clinical depression. While I had thought moving to Thailand was bad, this was exceedingly worse. Hell 2.0. I wanted to die. I was willing to die, because I felt I wasn’t worthy to live.

Luckily for me, my parents were leery of this for a while. My family has a history with clinical depression, and I was fortunate enough to receive treatment before I did anything drastic. However, by that time, my depression found an outlet: exercise. If I wasn’t good at school or singing, then at least I would be fit. I would find worth in my physical strength and in my self-discipline. And I did, for a while. But I took it to the extreme. Exercise without food is a dangerous game to play. And I wasn’t eating well—I hadn’t been for a couple of months. But exercise was my addiction. I could control what I did to my body. I could control what I fed it. Soon I learned I could control what it looked like. First thing to go: my “padding”. I saw anything that jiggled as fat, and I was determined to remove it all. I punched my abs daily hoping to define them. I’d grab my thighs and yell at them, frustrated the stretch marks and cellulite wouldn’t go away. I would tighten my butt whenever I sat down, so that I never wasted a moment. I literally worked my butt off.

            I lost 30 pounds in less than a semester. 100 pounds (or less) on a 5’9” frame is a scary thing to see. I knew I looked horrible. I was scared to look at myself in the mirror. I felt like Gollum from Lord of the Rings. I certainly looked like him. But for some reason, I couldn’t stop. Exercise had made me happy, and without it, I’d be miserable again.

Did being skinny make me happy? No. Did it make life easier? Not at all.
I’m eternally grateful to say that I got better, but it wasn’t easy. My senior year was hard. I had to quit cross-country (my final year, the year I was to be captain), because I didn’t feel I was healthy enough, and aerobic exercise was something I needed to avoid for a while. I had to reconcile all of the friendships I had lost during my depression (of course, the ones that truly mattered stayed with me through the whole ordeal). And I had to gain back all of that weight. Which is a lot harder than it sounds. I had to force myself to eat.

The final thing I needed to do: I had to redeem myself in the singing championships. But I wanted to do this for myself, to prove to myself that I was as good a singer as I thought I was. I picked a song that encompassed the happy self I wanted to be (“My Johann” by Edward Grieg), and I trained my soprano vocal chords incessantly. After my performance, I was awarded with a standing ovation! This was the best part of my whole high school experience!

So here’s the skinny from a skinny on being skinny: Don’t think we don’t understand. I know I do. We all have issues with our bodies, even if we don’t express them. I still can’t shower with the light on. I still feel competitive with my sister every once and a while. And I sometimes I feel crappy about my body. But I am a gorgeous, strong, brilliant, passionate woman. I shine with the light of my value and worth. And that has nothing to do with being skinny.

1 comment:

  1. This is beautiful. I think I have met her before. And both of these twins are stunning when they enter a room. This was very well written, and this girl is extremely tough! Thank you for sharing Haley!