I have always been thin, short, and petite all my life while having a bottomless stomach and appetite double my size. I have been made fun of because of my size even though people think they have kind intentions. I have been made to feel insecure by comments from my own family, men that I date, and people in the society that I am a part of. I have compared myself to other girls and been compared by others. I have also been complimented and made to feel lucky for such a combination of size and appetite.
But I am for one that is lucky enough to start to define my own beauty since my early 20s. Not to say I don't struggle with beauty ideals or be affected by comments from others. I do struggle and I see that it is and will always be work in progress.
How did I or do I continue to define my own ideals of beauty for myself? Well I stopped listening to what others have to say about my body. I would tell myself to be strong and tune out these noises. I would tell myself to be grateful of what I have, all the edges and curves. I remind myself that my mother gave me life and that she raised me to be a healthy being. I take myself out of the comfort zone of being thin and challenge myself to dance, exercise, and try new physical activities. I allow myself to think that being toned and muscular is sexy, especially on women. I tell myself that my physical limits should not stop me from reaching for the impossible, and that these "limits" can be conquered.
I tell myself I can be a performer, a model, a fashion designer, a star, because I have the power to make myself into one, to set an example for women that look like me, to inspire all to chase their dreams and not to wait for the right opportunity to come find them. I nourish my inner beauty while I polish my appearance outward. Because when all is said and done, all that you leave behind is the feelings, memories, or changes you instill in others. And that, is the truest beauty of all.
In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month , I will be sharing about my experiences as a once small-town Chinese girl to now a Chinese in America. It is important for all of us to reflect on our own past history to gain perspective on what kind of future we would like to craft.
My birthplace was Zhanjiang, Canton, China. It was once a small town and now a more developed and populated urban coastal city. My great-grandparents and grandparents were born by the neighboring rural areas of this city. Then my grandparents migrated to this city for better opportunities and standards of living. Thus my parents got to be born in this beautiful place and brought me into the world through this city few decades later. As you can see, this city is very important in our family history. I consider myself very lucky to have my early start in this city, even if it’s not a well-known city on the map nor is it a perfect city by any standards.
At the age of 4, I felt like I had it all. I was on the kindergarten dance team and was rehearsing daily and performing all around the city. My favorite part was of course sitting down and getting makeup put on me. I developed the love to perform and practiced professionalism at that age. My mom told me a story about how I lost a shoe during a performance, but I was calm and kept going with the dance routine til it was over. My grandma still brags about how I took her to a 5-star dinner buffet at the age of 5, which was rewarded to all the dancers by the kindergarten. While I had my dancing “career” going at the kindergarten, I also started training on electronic piano and ballet dance as extracurricular activities. I continued my piano training for 8 years and earned certificate of an advanced level.
Even though my perspectives have changed and I choose to practice different performing arts than the ones I started with, I still love all of them in their own unique contributions to my life. I strive to be able to keep learning new styles of dance, music, instruments while picking up familiar ones that introduced me to this beautiful world of performing. My early beginnings taught me to be fearless in expressing my talents and abilities. I knew no limits, whether it be gender, age, or race. I just knew that I loved performing and I wanted to show the world what I can do. I don’t think I remind myself enough of this 4-year-old me, whom I humbly have lots to learn from.