Being called 肥佬 (fatso) is no fun, even for a few months.
Imagine being called that for years, from the tender age of 10, all the way to 20 years old.
It destroys all desire to care about one’s appearance (I’m fat and I don’t look good. So don’t bother with fashion, posture, even looking good in front of cute girls.)
It also destroys one’s inclination to try most forms of physical activities (better don’t try to dance cos I’ll look ridiculous, better don’t run cos my fats will wobble all over).
That was my growing years.
The damage took years – and help from many amazing people – to heal. Until now I am still not entirely free of it.
However there are some silver linings to my condition. In life, there are always silver linings.
1) Because I had no hope of my prowess to impress anyone by my looks, I poured myself into learning. I read, all the time. Many of my friends probably remember me as a bookworm and a geek.
2) I knew that I would not get any advantage by being good-looking, so I worked hard, to let my good work speak for me.
3) I learnt to be self-deprecating, dependable and low-key. I cannot imagine a 肥佬 being flamboyant and charming, so I developed some other traits that I could wear well with my physical size. The self image of a gentle, dependable, immensely strong giant, seemed to fit me well. I learnt how to be attractive without being fit, loud, or good-looking.
4) I developed a very high tolerance for pain. I was a 肥佬 of 110kg at age 14, and I was assigned to Track and Field as an CCA throughout my secondary school life. The physical training of three weekdays and one weekend every week was grueling for me. My legs would tremble and my stomach would tighten when I thought about the next training. Yet I survived it somehow, and even won a gold medal for my school in the National Track and Field Competition.
5) I grew a mental alarm bell for my weight and physical fitness. I remember how it was like to be obese, and I never want to go back there again. I fought hard to be where I am today, weight and fitness wise, and I knew that I am pre-disposed to gain back that weight. It’s like if someone had recovered from a heart attack, he will know that he needs to watch his health more carefully than others, otherwise he will suffer a relapse. I learnt to make health and fitness a priority, no matter how busy I am.
I’m not saying that these silver linings make it a good idea for a young person to be overweight or obese. On the contrary, I hope no one would endure the same pain and shame that I endured. My entire personality and trajectory of my life would be so different if I had grown up with a different look. I guess in life, every loss carries with it a seed for gain. I am learning to appreciate who I am and where I am now. I have no complaints but a growing sense of gratitude as the years go by.
What is my message to you, my friend?
Be kind to the big guys and girls around you, for they might be fighting an inner battle of inferiority and shame.
Also, physical transformation is possible. Don’t lose hope.
Share this with them, if you think my message might encourage them. They can always reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org