I’m a SEA Games Medallist in discus throwing. I’m fit, but when I was a teen, I hated my body so much!
I remember being in an all-girls cell group in church when I was 14, and we were talking about our bodies. They asked us to share one area of our bodies we didn’t like. I was the last person to share because I didn’t want to admit that I hated everything about how I looked.
I didn’t want to admit that I felt that I was fat, or that I just didn’t like my body.
The truth was that when I was growing up, I was a very fat kid. I don’t have many photos of myself from those years because I was just so embarrassed.
Growing up, I loved to eat. I had no self-control, and had no qualms about it. Every year I’d put on 10kg and would think it was a natural thing.
By Primary 6, I was 80kg, and at 13, I was 90kg.
I loved eating, but when boys made fun of me and called me names like “fatso” and “fatty”, I didn’t feel so good. So my defence mechanism was to focus on my physical strength. If they said I was big, I’d say that makes me strong.
This worked to my advantage because when I was 11, my teacher picked me out for the school track and field tryouts, where I was introduced to throwing, and I was pretty good at it. That was when I first thought: Oh, okay, my size has got some use.
The thing about throwing is that you won’t look like other athletes — typically slim, slender and lean. Throwers are chunky, with huge muscles. So even though I lost a fair bit of weight, I didn’t lose all the fat, because my training didn’t involve a lot of running.
I started to feel better about myself because I felt … formidable. My muscles were my prized possession; I really liked how muscular I was. They were like my shell. So what if I’m not slim? At least I’m muscular.
But that was just my defence mechanism. I still felt that I was fat. I still felt that I was unfit, based on how people viewed me. Using my strength as a cover up was still my only way to make myself feel less bad about how I looked.
What I needed was a change in the heart. I was a very proud person: Proud of my achievements, about what I can do in sports, what I can do in church. When I was about 19 or 20, I was faced head on with the issue of my self-worth.
The cracks were showing. My pastor came to talk to me because he felt that in my service as a worship leader, I was doing things with a prideful heart. I was torn – I felt that my strength, which was my confidence, had become my weakness. It had caused the downfall. I didn’t know how to deal with that.
I came to realise that my pride was built upon my many insecurities. I was so afraid of failure and rejection that I’d built a high wall of “confidence” around myself. It was one of my lowest and most broken moments in my life.
It was only when I chose to surrender my pride and all my hurts to God that I was able to allow God to deal with the pain. It was hard to forgive myself, but when I chose to do so, things started to change.
Only after I did so was I able to start accepting the way I looked, and accept that while I may be bigger than others, I’m still okay with that.
Honestly? My body image still gets to me once in awhile. I still compare myself with petite girls, but I think I’m learning to accept that that’s just not the way God has made me: I’m beautiful the way God has made me.
I’ve experienced God’s love despite the flaws and the ugly sides of myself that I find so hard to accept. And that’s the one thing that I won’t let go off now.
This story first appeared in Issue 23 of Kallos magazine. Kallos is a ministry that seeks to empower young women to be advocates of inner beauty and confidence and to live out their God-given destiny.
Kallos has found that that all women struggle with the issue of beauty, whether they are athletes or supermodels. Join them for Confessions of a Supermodel on November 8, when Indonesia’s first supermodel, Tracy Trinita, reflects on true beauty as she shares her journey from a life of glamour and fame to meeting Jesus Christ as her Lord and Saviour.
Register now at https://www.kallos.com.sg/supermodelconfessions