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Growing up, I never thought about body image nor really cared about what others thought of me. It never really occurred to me what was beautiful and what was not. I preferred being independent because being dependent has always given me the idea of being a weakling. With that mindset growing up, I was typically stronger in strength compared to other people my age. However, what I did not know was that it would cause the downfall of my confidence and self-love.

A small incident occurred in middle school which changed me drastically. It was during sixth grade and I was sitting on one side of the long table which had multiple wheels attached on it with a few of my friends and about 2-3 of my classmates were sitting on the opposite side. They were constantly moving the table, so I used my strength to stop it from moving which successfully worked. One of the classmates from the other side claimed that the only reason I was able to do so was because I was fat.

At first, I didn’t think it affected me that much, but I started realizing how self-conscious I was about myself after the incident. I couldn’t wear a t-shirt without feeling like someone was staring at and judging me, and no matter what season it was, I would always be in clothing that covered as much skin as possible. In the summer, there would be a desire to wear shorts and dresses, but the moment I step out of the house the feeling of judgement takes over and I would cover myself in a cardigan that I bring with me everywhere. I also saw how I started buying and wearing oversized clothing just so that nobody, not even myself was able to see how my own body looks. I would go on diets and exercise for hours.

As years passed, I became more self-conscious, and I went from eating three meals a day to one meal a day. Deep down inside of me, I knew what I was doing was bad for me, but I couldn’t stop it because my mind was clouded with negative thoughts that if I did not continue losing weight I was not beautiful. I would also get overwhelmed and feel guilty whenever I felt like I ate too much on a certain day. I would check my weight every morning and whenever I wasn’t making progress I would punish myself with restrictions on food. The scale was like my deciding factor because during my diet periods the numbers on the scale were all that mattered.

At one point, it was getting serious and my mom had to step in and talk to me about it. The talk with my mom was emotional and it was like a click in my head that I knew I had to stop now or my health would deteriorate. It wasn’t an easy and quick process to go back to a healthy eating schedule. It was honestly so hard because after so long I had to just allow myself to eat something without feeling the guilt consume me.

During my recovery, I came across a youtuber named Linda Sun who went through similar things as me and I really felt like she understood what I went through and why. I realized that I wasn’t the only one who went through this struggle and I want other people around me to know that, you are perfect the way you are. Don’t let anyone else tell you what you are. It may be hard to ignore it because one negative comment can crush all the positive comments and perceptions you have of yourself. Now I am building back up my confidence and self-love gradually. I realized that I can’t be living trying to satisfy everyone. As cliché as it sounds, the only one I should satisfy and change for is myself. 

© Ivy Tiet. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.