A few days ago, I looked into my closet mirror, and didn’t automatically go, “Well, ain’t that a piece of sorry shit?” I was surprised it came so fast, but at last, there were no more flaw-picking, vague confusion or disgust anymore. When I looked into the mirror that morning, the only thought was: “You’ve got this, gal. Work that bodeh!”
It was just recently, at the age of 21, that I realized puberty finally hit me. Now, I’m not talking about the physically growing up puberty. I’m talking about the puberty when you finally feel that you are beautiful, when you pat your body out of love instead of patting your stomach fat out of hatred because I’m pretty sure I look pretty much the same as last year, just minus the hair color.
Well, you would be there thinking, “Big deal! You think you look nice. It’s not anything special. A lot of people do that. Can we just move on to something more interesting now?”
Yes, you’re right. A lot of people do get hit by their puberty early, but here’s a quick recap of my entire self-image history to prove that I was the last person I thought was gonna get hit by puberty. Growing up, my parents were not so uhm…. positive (Bless them, though.) They had their ways of showing affection, but complimenting their children on our appearances was certainly not one of them. My mom used to (and still) pick flaws on my appearances. Though, I’m sure she did it because she was criticizing everybody else including herself. I’ve got small eyes, short eyelashes, small lips, tanned skin, a gangly posture, and quite of a well-built body. Those are not exactly the things society considers as “beautiful”, or “feminine”. To be completely honest, the only two bodily-compliments this girl has ever got throughout her entire childhood are 1. Height (for girls my age, anyway), and 2. A nice-looking nose. You can guess the rest of the story. Kid looking quite average. Kid never gets complimented. Kid ends up having zero body love. With features that are mostly the opposite of what the society thought beautiful, my body image had been constantly negative, like full-on 100 below zero. It was so bad that at one time, I decided to become a tomboy. Yup, you read it right. I was the typical Asian tomboy for like 2 years in high school with a head full of short hair, baggy pants and everything. I know some girls are tomboys because that’s just who they are. I’d like to disillusion myself by thinking that I’d spent two years of my life realizing my desire to be a tomboy. However, with the luxury of reflecting upon it these past few years, I think it was because convinced that I could never become attractive as a girl, that I could never become the graceful feminine beauty, I decided to compete in the other category instead.
After about two years of rocking the short-haired look, I became discontented. It didn’t feel good being a tomboy. It surely boosted my self-image because well, like I said, I had the gangly posture and manly features (I take after my dad so…) to rock it, but it just didn’t feel right.
That was the time I grew my hair out, and began a plan to well, not feel like shit in front of a mirrored reflection.
I started reading blogs, videos and books on body images and shit like that.
There was this one video that said something along the line of, “Accentuate what you’ve got, and accept what you haven’t got.” Well, I’ve got only two things going on for me, so there was not that much to start with. First, it was the body. I had the height, so I just had to shape the muscles and strip the fat away. I started working out, you know, aerobic, cardio, yoga, cycling and all that jazz. It’s been two or three years now, and it was certainly a big puberty accelerator.
Not only the physical body that needed to change, my mindset had to change, too. I came across a great website called 2knowmyself.com, and practically devoured its body image section. There are practical exercises you can do to make you hate how you look less. Some of my favorites are:
- Looking into the mirror without being preoccupied by your flaws. Just look at yourself and see yourself for who you are.
- Stop being sad over ugly pictures because pictures are 2D. Our looks are 3D. Chances are, you look suck in 2D but actually okay in 3D.
- Stop comparing yourself to pictures of celebrities and models. They are mostly touched, you know, make-up, lighting, Photoshop and everything. With those things, I think everybody can look hot, I dare say, even Donald Trump can look hot.
I started shopping for clothes that I actually like to wear, and started playing with make-up. And with my new obsession of all things Victorian, I noticed just how poor my posture actually was. It was so poor that I remember at one time, I couldn’t even manage to stand still without tipping over. Talking about living an imbalanced life. Therefore, I kinda started imitating graceful people, and practice how I walk, sit and catching myself when my body slouches (I still slouch a lot).
Then one day. It just happened. After years of hating my own guts for how I look while at the same time struggling to love my body, it hit. That goddamn late-to-the-party puberty finally hit. I started feeling like, you know, yeah, I can rock this look. It’s not your conventional Cambodian beauty, but I think I can make it work.
The strange thing is that when you finally realize you are beautiful, people become attracted to you. Cambodia has this black magic thing where you install a charm into your teeth to become more attractive. I think it is an axe effect. You know how the research goes. Two group of men were to be videotaped. One group had body-spray on while the other didn’t. They were told to act, and their videos were later set to be judged by girls. The guys with body-spray on acted more confidently; therefore, becoming more attractive to girls that judged them later. I think it goes the same way. In the case of the black magic, when you believe that you have a powerful charm that makes everyone attracted to you, you become more confident. And well, people are attracted to you because of that confidence. It’s like a circle. I am pretty sure my looks haven’t changed much. I still have small eyes, short eyelashes, small lips, tanned skin, a (somewhat) gangly posture, and quite of a well-built body. The thing that changed is that I worked to become more familiar and confident with them. In a way, it was as if I’d installed a charm in my teeth. Nothing’s changed on the outside, but everything’s changed on the inside.
I know you are probably hating how you look right now. Heck, everybody has their own body insecurities which are worse especially when you are a teenager. The thing is that it gets better, and you can even do things to make it better sooner! Work out, start wearing what you like, dye your hair, do positive affirmations. And bam! Out of nowhere, like a wrecking ball, puberty will finally hit you.