About Body Acceptance
I LOVE this picture, it brings me so much joy whenever I look at it. It was taken last April in Peru, after a couple of surfing sessions during the day, I was ready to enjoy some Thai food.
But that's not the point I'm trying to make. What struck me is that if you showed me this picture 10 years ago, I would have felt ashamed of myself - I was not how 'beautiful' was defined by the wider culture.
When I grew up in China, the clothes sizes were determined by the height. So rather than sizes 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 or S, M, L, the clothes were marked as 155, 160, 165, 170. It subtly indicated what your body size should be based on your height in cm. I still remember when I was a teenager, though 165cm (equivalent to UK size 8) fitted me better, I insisted on squeezing my body into a 160cm (UK size 6), merely because my height was 160cm. And I didn't want to admit that I was 'fat'. That then made me determined to 'lose weight'. I took weight loss pills, skipped meals, just so that I could fit into what my body size 'should be'.
In Asia, pale skin was and still is regarded as 'beautiful'. And that beauty standard subtly affected all the girls/women without them even having a chance to question it. You could see many skin whitening products in the beauty industry. And most of the girls/women do their best to avoid sunshine. I can't help but to be tanned when I surf and I started to embrace the dark skin - that's the result of me dancing with the sunlight, what's wrong with that?!
I wasn't comfortable not wearing make-up for a very long time. Rather than feeling joy and excitement in putting makeup on, most of the time, I felt I was obliged to wear them. It almost became part of the expectations that you wear make-up when you go to work, when you go out and when you meet others. Slowly I started to ask myself: what's wrong with showing people how I really look like? Then, I started to give up on makeup as much as I could. Surprisingly, when that happened, the joy of putting make up on came back - it became a process of creative expression.
What I LOVE about the picture is that I was embracing my body; I was enjoying the food as it was rather than feeling guilty about it; I was very tanned, but I saw it as part of the joy of surfing; I was not wearing any make up and my hair was not done, but I was completely at ease with it. My smile was genuine and real and it came from a place of total acceptance. And it's that state, which brings me so much joy every time I look at that picture - I was clearly enjoying my natural state of being.
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Love and light x