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Body Image Issues

Self-Love: The Most Important Kind

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by Danielle Chong

Love. What a word, right? Just like a picture or a painting, it’s open to interpretation. An old friend who was in a really bad place at a point in his life once told me that love is destruction and that love has done him no good. When I asked my mom, “What is love?” she simply said that she saw love in her family – when she knew that my dad would drop anything to be there for his wife and his kids.

So, what exactly is love?

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Proud Naked

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 by Lyana Khairuddin 

Imagine a young girl whose whole physical appearance is defined by the word “fat”. Hailed as the “Gorilla King Kong” by her family, she is the biggest kid in kindergarten who can never get store-bought uniforms because she is not built like an average 7-year old. Growing up with the constant paradox of dieting yet compulsively eating her feelings, this young girl did not lead a generic childhood after prematurely hitting puberty, and having been molested, at the age of nine. At the age of nine, she hid behind the fabric of baggy clothes, making sure to cover her aurat because she was a “woman” now, but too big to be considered pretty. Comparing her to a heavier set Malaysian actress was her parents’ way of attempting to scare her into eating less & becoming “normal looking”, and she always assumed stationary positions whenever physical activity was required, such as goalkeeper during football. Even now, as an adult, she is still subject to scrutiny and lewd comments about her body weight and image, because “big” is not yet beautiful in Malaysia.

Dark & Lovely: The Many Shades of Beauty

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by Aina Salleh

I learnt at a very young age that I was dark-skinned. I grew up with a mother whose skin is radiant and translucent, thanks to her father’s Chinese genes, and mine was dark and dusky, (no) thanks to my father’s Yemeni roots. We were a walking contrast; and almost everyone we met made it a point to acknowledge that. “Oh, what a shame you didn’t get your mother’s complexion” and “You’re quite pretty… for a dark girl” were recurring noises of my adolescence. My bubble of blissful oblivion burst, and I was affronted with the realisation that there exists a hierarchy of beauty in our society; one that glorifies fair skin. I learnt at a very young age to hate my dark skin.

My Friend Ana

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by Nina Mazlan 

If there is one thing that I find most difficult in answering is pin-pointing the exact moment where my eating disorder started. I have thought about this a lot and have come to one simple conclusion: it is like your childhood friend. You know the kind – the one that for the life of you, you cannot remember how or when the two of you became friends but that you just did.

My childhood friend, my Ana as I like to call her, grew up with me. Again, I can’t really recall the exact moment she befriended me or I her – just that one day, she kept talking to me and telling me what I should do. She was a silent observer when I looked at myself in the mirror at 12 years old, poking at my new curves and liking what I saw.

An Ode to Blackness in Boleh Land

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by Lesego Barona Otlhabanye

I grew up in an all-black society, and for the most part, my colour or gender was never really a thing – and by all means, I am pretty average, lah. I enjoyed interactions with different people and cultures; however, it never occurred to me that I was from a specific race that had a rich history in oppression and discrimination and subject to gender bias as well. Of course, I was very much aware of history but never directly affected by issues of race. I never had to deal with my colour until in college.

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