On Sticking Out Like a Sore Thumb

The title is wholly encapsulating, but read on if details matter to you.

Last night I stayed up watching Youtube videos of interviews of Lena Dunham on her new successes. I’ve always been a fan of hers because she is daring and saucy. I aspire to one day be as eloquent and groundbreaking as her. Until then, I’ll keep tworking.

One video in particular hit home for me. [See embedded] http://youtu.be/GXb8J9wFAe0

It’s about the importance of honesty and privacy.

She says something that truly resonated with me: “We have such a focus [culturally] on willpower and being the slimmest, most toned, most self-actualized, most zen. When you don’t have a body that fits the norm, you feel like your failings as a person are being presented outwardly. Like this roll of fat on my stomach is evidence that I’m never gonna be serious enough, I’m never gonna have enough will power. I’m never gonna be strong enough. I’m too lazy. Letting go of that was really big for me.”

I can’t really say that I’ve let go of that just yet. It’s definitely been a long and arduous process that comes in tidal waves. Sometimes I feel really great and bodacious; I see myself in the mirror and think damn. Other times, however, I feel lumpy and and undesirable; I see myself in the mirror and think damn. 

Living in [Korea] a society that is absolutely obsessed with vanity and self-absorbtion doesn’t make my life any easier. Whenever I’m near a mirror or a well reflecting window, I fix myself, I judge myself. Anytime I’m around other girls, namely Korean girls, I berate myself because I don’t have the same teensy waists and arms like they do. Not to mention, all the scrutiny I get from Koreans for being fat and brown.

This isn’t something that many others understand when I try to explain it. I get the whole, “Angela, you’re over thinking this stuff. Koreans don’t notice you. Get over it.” But yes, Koreans notice me. They notice the hell out of me. I’m the only fat brown female in the area. When I’m out and about, I have to deal with glares and stares, mostly from the ajummas and ajeossis who go tsk tsk when I walk past them. Just the other day, I was standing in line for the subway and a man shoves me out of the way to get through. Under his breath he said, “wow, so fat.” I’ve stopped going into Korean clothing stores because the times I have been, the welcome resorted to the Korean hand gesture for aniyo – which looks like an X – and the infamous claim of, “NO BIG SIZE.”

I promise, I’m not whining, this is real shit. And I think it is necessary to jot this stuff down and maybe engage in a dialogue about it. Time and time again I’ve been so belittled by the importance of body image. I’ve been dissed by dudes because I’m not skinny enough. Shooed away by the locals because I’m unwanted. Even my mom has called me “gorda” for as long as I can remember because she thinks its a term of endearment, but it’s fucking not.

Yes, my arms are fat.

Yes, my thighs meet and the only time I have a gap is when there’s a head in between.

Yes, my stomach is not even close to being flat.

Yes, my body is not toned and perfect and sized like a mannequin.

But why should all that dictate my social synergy and posterity?  There’s so much more I have to offer as an individual than just my body. I can totally understand that it’s nicer to surround oneself by beautiful people. I’ll admit that because, I too, am vain. And now I’m also a hypocrite. Nevertheless, I should be given the chance to shine past my exoteric frame. There are lots of good things I’ve learned about myself over the past handful of months. And I’ve really grown into myself, thanks to the haphazard help of strong and empowered women such as the aforementioned Lena Dunham, and Amy Poehler, Jennifer Lawrence, and Beyonce, to name a few.

I’m grateful for the boost of confidence these women have radiated onto me because without such influential figures, I’d be utterly lackluster.

I use humor and sass as mediators for the inevitable judgement of my body. It worked fairly well when I was in the states. But now that I’m living in Korea, I can’t communicate my funny to strangers, obviously because of the language barrier. And so, to them, I’ll always be an alien. “I’m used to it,” are probably the saddest words anyone can ever say, but it’s true.

Lately, there’s been so much material in the media about loving yourself and equality and liberalism, all of which give me great hope that society is headed toward sincere progression. It is absolutely imperative for these internal struggles to be shared because it keeps people sane and akin. I’d like to enlighten and be enlightened.


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