Through Thick and Thin

This speech was written by Martin G10 as part of an English assignment.

Have you ever looked at yourself in a mirror and just started crying? Have you ever just looked down at every part of your body noticed​all the​flaws you have,​all the fat that’s clinging on every part of your body and​ all the muscles that seem to be completely absent? This happened to me monthly, sometimes weekly,​ a few years back​, when I used to be “chubby”​according to my parents,​or ​fat​ according to my friends.​At the time​,those are the thoughts that raced through my head ​every time I saw myself, as ​society kept on telling me that I was unwanted. But in hindsight​, I can say that the ​terrible light in which I saw myself was not lit by my family, peers or society. Of course, they were the fuel, but rather, my mind was the one to light these flames of shame, and I luckily learned how to extinguish them before I got burned. I can still think back to a time in which these flames have almost consumed me entirely.
Several years ago​, I remember being at a pharmacy. My sister was right next to me and she spotted this public scale,​you know the ones all over the place, where you can insert a coin and look at your weight, for the mere price of a single baht? She asked jokingly, whether I would want to stand on it,but I happened to have a coin and thought, why not give it a try. I stood on it, waiting for the red lit digits to pop up and once they finally did, I said to her out loud: “​Is 85 kilograms a lot?​”. I could see a​shocked look at her face, but she quickly turned it into a smile, assuring me that “​everyone’s different​”. But this was ​overshadowed by the ​tangible pressure​I could feel around me, as people started to turn around and look at me,​their stares​boring into the back of my neck​. I could feel the tears build up in me, so the only choice I had was to get out of the store, trying to escape this nightmare. Before this, I hadn’t even considered the problems about my body type. Of course, I was no ​Chris Hemsworth or Arnold Schwarzenegger​, but I didn’t think that it was much of a problem. I knew I didn’t have the ​wide shoulders, that dorito-shaped back, the huge chest, the bulging biceps, the washboard abs and the tight glutes that every male desires because society tells them to​. But after that, I would’ve even been satisfied if I looked like ​Captain America, before he got his super-soldier serum​. After this, I began to take notice and even seek out the fat-shaming part of society,​the stigma around people with large bodies​, and I started to ​hate myself.​ Hate how I looked, ​hate how I felt, ​hate the way that some people would look at me when I am going to the extra large section of the clothing store. And so, at the time, I thought that the only way to get rid of this​plague that was haunting me would be to change myself physically. ​Little did I know that this wouldn’t be the way to solve things.
Do you know what it feels like to step into a gym for the first time?​ Nervous at the start,​ gym sharks lifting weights that seem ​to weigh tons​,​that turned into being​judged for trying to lift the same weights at a much younger age​. But there is this feeling to exercising, ​the feeling of physical progress​, that soon became like a drug to me​.​ Lifting became an essential part of my life. In a period of 6 months, I lost 25 kg and I still remember the exact thought that raced through my head when I looked at myself in the mirror after I lost that much weight: “Not good enough.” After all the progress I had made, I began to dig for more flaws in myself – I noticed my​grossly wide hip bones, ​my narrow shoulders, ​my chicken legs ​and the stretch marks on my back were almost like scars that reminded me of the couch potato I used to be. ​I got so ​addicted that I didn’t stop. Even now, I still try to get that ripped physique that everyone wants from an alpha​. ​But what was I really addicted to? Becoming a better version of myself or social acceptance?
We always hear the​ expectations from them​, the things they want from us​.​They want us to be slim, ​they want us to be strong, ​they want us to have a body, a kin to that of​all the super heroes we see on the big screen today​. I thought following their advice would be the best way to find satisfaction and happiness. And because of this, I became​ obsessed​, ​obsessed with fitting into that ​stereotype of the ​typical sexy guy​.​But looking back​ at all the hurdles I had to overcome​, never have I thought about​trying to change my way of thinking. ​We should focus on what ​we want. If you truly want to achieve a healthier lifestyle and have that​ greek god body​, then do that. But don’t do it to impress someone else. When I started this, I didn’t want to be​buff and bulging with muscles​. I just wanted to be happy and satisfied with myself. But I ended up at the same place in which I started – Longing for social acceptance​.
I’ve gone through a long journey​, a journey in which I explored myself and learned about society. I learned about expectations of men that I didn’t meet​, ​about the addiction that comes with lifting, ​about why I was wrong in thinking that change can only occur from the outside. If there was one thing I want you to take from this, its this: ​Don’t try to change because society expects you to because society will always be expecting more ​and you will be ​trapped in this endless cycle of pleasing others just like I am right now. I almost got burned by the terrible light in which I saw myself in​, but I hope that this light means something else to you,​ like a lighthouse guiding you to take the right path to satisfaction​. Because everyone has the strength and will to change their bodies, even if they don’t know it, but only the ones who change their mentality will truly be happy.

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