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internalizing negativity

Hey, it’s Tamaki! It has been so humid lately, and I just want summer to end already even though it hasn't even started. Today I would like to talk about my experience dealing with negative comments about my body.


My friend told me something yesterday morning as I was waiting for my next class. I used to take classes with her about a year ago and hadn’t spoke to her since. So when I saw her coming out from a classroom next to mine, naturally, I was surprised. It was a mixture of excitement and a sense of dread of having to make small talk. As I mentioned earlier, I haven't communicated with her in over a year. We both smiled and greeted each other. She walked slowly towards me, and the first thing that came out of her mouth was exactly this; “I saw you last week and you're fatter than before, aren't you?”

昨日、前の授業が終わるのをクラスの外で待っている時、かけられた言葉がある。1年くらい前に同じ授業を取っていた子で、久しく話していない。毎日会ったり話してた友達とは、自然とあまりコミュニケーションをとらなくなったからこそ、彼女を久しぶりに見かけた時は驚いたの。声をかけたかったのと、そんなに仲良くない顔見知りとおしゃべりしないといけないという面倒くささと、半々。お互い目が合って、ニコッと笑って、彼女がこっちに歩いてきたから、よし!話すぞ!ってちょっと気合いいれたんだ(笑) そうしたら、彼女の第一声が、「先週たまきのこと見かけたんだけど、太ったよね?」だった。

My brain froze immediately, followed by my stomach slowly twisting in an uncomfortable way. My insides were screaming “what the hell!” The 3 seconds after she pointed out my weight felt like eternity. Everything but her face turned dark and blurry, as I suddenly seemed to live in slow motion. Well, maybe that’s a bit dramatic but, it really was a shock to me.


I tried to think fast and understand the situation. What just happened? What did she just say? How should I react and what kind of reaction is she looking for? What am I supposed to say to that? Now, looking back I had 2 options. The first being to laugh and change the subject. The second to politely point out she is being rude and inform my discomfort.

頭はフル回転で、まず状況を理解しようとした。今一体何が起こったんだろう? 彼女は私に今、何て言った? どう反応するべきなんだろう? どういう反応を求めてるんだろう? なんて言おう!? 今思えば、オプションは2つくらいあったかも。1.笑って話題を変える、そして2.失礼のないように自分の気持ちを伝えて理解してもらう。

I did neither. I panicked. My heart was in shock and on pause, while my brain kept yelling “say something right now!” In attempt to hide my scattered emotions and confusion, I mustered up a sentence “I lost a bit of weight, actually.” I bet I had the most awkward fake smile glued onto my face. Ugh.


After that, she lightly tapped my belly a few times, saying “Good luck! See you soon.” This 5 minute small talk utterly and completely took me by surprise, leaving a mild dull ache and so many thoughts in my mind.


Looking back at my pictures from high school, what she said was true; I have gained weight. Back then, certain people always used to point out what they considered “flaws” about my body. And I believed them. Believing them led me to looking though pro ana pages on the internet, looking up to unhealthily skinny bodies, beating myself up if I ate something greasy or unnecessary.. of course I was skinny back then. I was skinny. I was sad. I hated myself no matter how much meat I lost from my body. It is such a dangerous mentality, but I truly believed I needed to lose a ton of weight to the point I looked very unhealthy.

悲しくなったのは多分、高校以前の自分を思い出したから。当時は、一部の人が、常に私の体型について話したりいじってきた。彼らから見た私の「欠点」を、面白半分でバカにしてたんだね。その人たちに悪気はなかったと思うけど、今よりもナイーブで自信がなかったので、彼らの言葉を完全に信じて、ネットでプロ・アナ(「摂食障害の一である神経性無食欲症(拒食症、英: Anorexia nervosa)を「精神疾患ではなく個人のライフスタイル (英: Lifestyle)」であると主張する、主に英語圏で社会現象となっているムーブメントや社会運動のこと」wikipedia参照)の人たちを追って参考にしたりした。私が頑張ればいい、私が彼らにバカにされない体型になればいい。その一心で、食事の量を極端に減らして、ごく稀に誘惑に負けてジャンクフードを食べると、どうしようもなく怠け者の自分を責めて、より厳しく制限をかけた。確かにその時は痩せていた。痩せていたけど、今と比べて極端に不健康で、いつもどんよりした気持ちだった。完璧な体型(プロ・アナくらいの体型)でない自分のことが大嫌いだったし、プロ・アナの人たちのような体型じゃないとダメだ、と強く信じてたんだ。今思えば恐ろしいメンタリティなんだけどね。

After eating too less in high school, and eating too much until quite recently due to depression, now I eat what I want in a healthy manner. Sure, sometimes I am not completely happy with my body, but feeling in control and happy inside is a daily routine, and it makes me very proud.


We all have insecurities. Maybe she's facing her own insecurities and imperfections, and looking at my chubby self made her want to comment on it. Or maybe she was just genuinely worried. Either way, if I was my insecure 18 year old self, I might have took that to heart and starved myself like I used to. I was skinny and unhappy then, I am chubby and happy now. In no way do I support over-the-top unhealthy body types or eating habits, but I completely disagree on making negative comments, no matter the circumstances. We never know what we are going through or went through to get to where we are now.


When I bump into her again, I hope to have a better conversation than our recent one, get to know her a bit better and listen to each other. Have you ever experienced negativity towards your appearance or body type? Have you ever internalized negativity like I used to? How did you deal with it?


Photos by Tamaki

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