Resolving to Love Yourself

The new year has begun and the festivities are over. Once again, as always, people are looking for a fresh start, a new beginning, to shed the old skin and revive with a new story: a transformation to a new you.

New Year’s resolutions are quite a tradition around the world. The most popular pledge each new year is to lose weight — at least it is for America. Go figure.
Our society is a tough one to live in. It’s hard not to care about the way we look especially with our judgmental media making sleazy comments such as “Who’s HOT and Who’s NOT” or “Who wore it best?”

Our image of what is considered to be beautiful has unfortunately been corrupted by magazine covers of skinny airbrushed Victoria’s Secret models and men with incredibly muscular arms and ridiculously sculpted abs. Our mind is constantly being bombarded by what the ideal body is because we see those same figures pop up on the big screens, online, magazines, television and even on a poster in our rooms. Everyone in Hollywood looks the same! Men are always trying to lift heavier weights to become bigger while women are always running to become smaller.

Being comfortable and happy in your own skin coupled with living a healthy lifestyle is important for our well-being but there is more to it than looking good in fitted clothes or pleasing the eyes of others. Don’t get me wrong, I applaud those who are trying to live a healthier and well- rounded lifestyle by eating well and getting in to a consistent workout regimen. But there’s a difference between changing for yourself and changing to look like a Victoria’s Secret model.

It makes me sad to think that repeatedly year after year, America’s most sought out resolution is to lose weight. I used to be part of that statistic. Similar to my story, too many people do it for the wrong reasons. We often forget that there’s more to life than the outer layer of a person. This was a lesson that has taken me nearly four years to fully understand and I’m still learning.

You see, I’m not your typical skinny little Asian girl. I got the long black hair but that’s about it. Oh yeah, as well as the small eyes. Thanks, Dad. I stand as a 5-foot-8-inch Asian (yeah, you don’t see too many of those around … ) with a set of huge muscular thighs which are formed from intensive volleyball training.

I know girls always have a tendency of exaggerating but I’m really not, a few guys at the ARC have come up to me and in these exact words coupled with a slight hesitation have asked, “Excuse me … not to be a creep or anything … but I was wondering, what is your leg routine?” Now, I’m proud and confident of my legs and happily shared my workout routine with them but four years back, I was nowhere near being happy with my legs. All I wanted for Christmas was a pair of Victoria Secret’s model legs which men seemed to drool over.

Throughout high school, I was called “Thunder Thighs.” My legs were compared to a horse’s leg. I can still recall a comment that stung pretty hard, one of my buddies said, “Damn, look at those drumstick thighs!” I would casually laugh it off. Because I was an athlete, people portrayed me as being confident, thinking these names and phrases wouldn’t hurt. I hid my insecurities well.

Each year, my New Year’s resolution was to have skinny thighs. I began to fall into a downward spiral of on-and-off dieting and going on long runs to thin out my thigh muscles. It was a tug-of-war between dieting and binge eating. I was slowly starting to develop an eating disorder.

My worst binge eating scenario was when I consumed 35 slices of squared pepperoni pizzas, half a gallon of cookies-and-cream ice cream, one box of double stuffed Oreos and two peanut butter honey and banana sandwiches. Crazy, huh? After each binge, I would sit there and sulk, allowing myself to drown in my insecurities.

Honestly, I’m not sure how I got over my insecurities but something in me clicked — and I’m glad it did. Perhaps it was my love for sports. I have an athletic build and I’m thankful for it because sports is a huge part of my life. Thanks to my muscular legs, my achievements and stumbles throughout my athletic career have given me my best friends, great mentors, has taught me valuable life lessons, and irreplaceable memories. It’s made me, me and I am happy with who I am.

The story I have shared is extremely personal and very few know about it. I am sharing it now because I know many people share the same daunting insecurities and feelings that I once had and it definitely is one of the worse feelings. Along with being a college girl and fitness fanatic, I do keep my appearance in mind but I eat for my health, lift weights to be strong and run to keep in shape. I do it for me, not for a set of model legs.

We each come in different shapes and sizes, and we are beautiful in our own way. We all have a different story to tell and are blessed with unique talents to share. As cliché as it sounds, you will never reach your full potential in life until you learn to love yourself. But this runs deeper than the shallow surface that we so immensely focus on. My philosophy is we should always treat our bodies right. It should be a daily habit, a priority. Not a resolution.

This year, my New Year’s resolutions are to try something new: something along the lines of picking up a new hobby and to deposit $50 a month into my new savings account, so that one day, I can buy my amazing mom a nice little house to live in, with lots of yummy fruit trees in the backyard.