Saturday, June 21, 2014

The First Time Someone Called Me Fat: A Story About Acceptance, Growing Up, and an Overdose of French Fries

9:17 PM

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I love French Fries. 

From the very first time I tried those greasy fried potato slices at McDonald's, to the last basket of slightly peppered Freedom Fries I just had from Army Navy, french fries have always been my weakness. I’ve perpetually had an appetite for French Fries, but I trace the actual genesis of my affliction to some time between sixth and seventh grade – when my math teacher had the brilliant idea of rewarding our perfect test scores with an order of a Big Mac Meal + Large Fries + Coke Float.

Throughout my high school years, this french fry fondness has never been a problem. The searing Manila heat kept me sweating ceaselessly, and my football team whipped my butt in shape (whether or not that shape was a circle, I’m not quite sure). Thus, my french fry eating turned into a cycle of stuffing my face with cholesterol-induced fried potato goodness, burning off all those calories by training 6+ hours a week, sharing French Fries with my teammates after celebrating a win at whatever fast food restaurant we managed to pass by. However, when college came around and I had to move away from what I felt like was everything that I had known and loved my whole life, my affliction turned into an addiction. 

College is definitely one of the most memorable experiences in a teenager’s life. For many, it marks the transition from teens to twenties. A time of self-discovery, newfound awareness, and experimental make-up skills, college was when I felt like I really grew up. Ever since I was a kid I knew that I wanted to study abroad, or rather, I knew that my daddy wanted me to do so. His dreams became my dreams. So, I worked hard for it and did the best that I could to make my parents proud and bring honor to my family (thanks, Mulan). Eventually, after struggling through my senior year of high school and almost failing deportment (#lol too many of my pink hair ties have been confiscated), I made it to my dream school. 

I was excited and terrified and elated and nervous, but mostly, I was worried about leaving home. I’ve traveled quite a bit before, but most of my trips had, at max, a 4 week duration. And I’ve never been completely alone. Being independent for what felt like the first time in my life brought numerous ups and downs. I’m incredibly blessed and happy to be where I am now, yet sometimes, being alone made me forget about all the great things in my life. Leaving Manila was probably one of the hardest things that I ever had to do. I made a lot of friends at university, yet, despite their presence, I felt lonely. We all had extremely different opposite-end-of-the-spectrum-type backgrounds, making it more difficult to relate them culturally and socially. 

So, I did what I’ve always done, and I ate french fries (which was so much easier now, fyi, that they were always readily available with extra salt and ketchup at our dining hall). I guess eating was my way of coping with my sort-of forced solitude. Good food = good vibes, so I ate, and ate… and ate… and ate, and… well, you see where this is going, right? I didn’t think it would be a problem until I got back home over Christmas break. 

That was when all the comments started pouring in. “Uy, tumaba ka ata a!” “Dami siguro ng kain mo, parang may siopao ka sa pisngi mo.” I mean, obviously there was nothing wrong with gaining a little weight, or so I told myself. I was never actually skinny when I was younger, but nobody ever called me fat either. Honestly, I thought it wouldn’t bother me, what with all the feminist “Love your body!” movements they had at school, but really, it did. Stereotypically, people have bunched in the words “fat” and “unattractive” in the same boat. I’ve never given it much thought, since that issue has never affected me personally, but after contemplating on why I felt insulted, I realized that it wasn’t the description of being “fat” that bothered me, but everything else that was tied to that word and how it affected me. In reality, I was scared that I had changed. 

Being called “fat” symbolized a change in myself that I wasn’t yet willing to accept – I couldn’t accept the fact that I changed in more ways than one, and that things, in general, would never be the way they were in high school. I was still friends with the same people back at home, yet their ideals had changed, and so had mine. We didn’t see eye to eye anymore. The way I saw myself and the way that other people saw me had differed as well. In fact, my whole perspective towards life was reorganized – both in positive and negative ways. 

I feared change because I was floating in a dream of everlasting consistency. I was comfortable where I was. But change is inevitable, and it was something that I had to learn how to accept. Things change and people leave, but all of these experiences are necessary to help me grow as a person. 

In the end, I realized that 1) there was nothing wrong with gaining a bit of weight (hello, freshman fifteen!) – all women, no matter what shape, size, age, or color, are beautiful. And 2) there was nothing wrong with change – it’s part of growing up and becoming the best you that you can be. Change is beneficial in many ways, yet often times, people forget to see what kind of happiness they could have in the moment because they always dwell on the past. Thus, the key to growth is acceptance. And whether or not the last French Fry I ate has made me grow horizontally, I know that no matter what the future throws at me, I’ll be okay, because I’ve settled myself with the fact that the only thing constant in this world is change. And that isn’t so bad, for it leads to development and innovation. In the words of Apple Inc., “change… push[es] the human race forward.” 

Article by Angela

Art by Ches

Angela, more commonly known as Amber, is a unicorn enthusiast, Victoria’s Secret model in disguise, pink lover, and salonpas suki. She is totally bubbly, like, all the time, and she has a legit addiction to French fries. Football is her sport, but she’s also tried a handful of other stuff including rugby, cheerleading, and Frisbee.

Ches is a human being who loves making mixed-media and collage art. She enjoys collecting small things, listening to sad and fuzzy music, making a mess, eating spicy Japanese food, and thinking about everything. You can find her on Twitter (@psychedelicward) and in booksales/local gigs near you.


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