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Body Positivity: The Struggle Is Real

Women share stories about their struggles with body size, skin color, hair type, and a lot more.
IMAGE Grrrl Gang Manila/Facebook

We all have our own reasons why we feel insecure about ourselves. Sometimes, it's of our own doing—we compare ourselves to others, we set unattainable standards—but other times, although well-meaning, it's what other people make us feel, too.

Remember when we wrote about Grrrl Gang Manila and how it's creating a safe, non-judgmental space for women of all ages in the Philippines? They recently shared Coco Quizon's journey toward body positivity and encouraged everyone to share their own struggles and the ways they've come to accept their bodies.

"Like many grrrls, I grew up pretty unhappy with my body. I would microanalyze every tiny bit of my form to the point that at one stage I wanted to be a certain weight because I realized that my head was just too big for my body and if I got any thinner magmumukha akong Easter Island carving.

Recently, it's been more about my struggle with weightor I guess, more succinctly put, the struggle other people have with my weight and how it affects me.

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Over the last two years, I gained 75 pounds by just getting lost in my work, eating my feelings, and really just #enjoyinglife. When I'm alone and with my thoughts my added weight really doesn't mean much to me and only when in the company of others do I begin second guessing the way I see myself. And I realized that over the years, my struggle with body positivity was really my struggle to manage the microaggressions being hurled at me everydaymy favorite one, being 'Ang laki ng tinaba mo pero bagay naman sayo'. It feels like a small tiny battle that restarts every day. Kapagod minsan, Sis. Lol."

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Unsurprisingly, many women replied with similar stories, ranging from body size, skin color, hair type, and a lot more. Here are some of the replies.

"I used to be a size 0 and super fit, but when I hit 30 I started gaining weight and it's become harder and harder to keep it off.

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One of the things I struggle with is people who know me keep comparing my body to my younger self, and talking about how I'm 'sayang.'

I've gone up two dress sizes but I'm hardly sayang! My self-worth isn't tied to my weight! I know in my head that I'm so much more than my body but it still makes me feel bad. I can't say that I've come to accept my body for what it is, it's a continuing struggle," says commenter Aissa.

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Grrrl Gang co-founder (or as they like to call it, cheerleader) Mich Dulce also had her fair share of struggles.

My body issue growing up was my curly hair. Everyone would make fun of me and the bullies in high school would throw paper bits in my hair and laugh when it stuck, or they would call me Sto. Nino and make peace signs all the way through college.

It used to really annoy me and affect me so much but one day I just was like, screw this, I'm just never going to look like everyone else. Then I started to dress up the way I wanted, not following what was deemed to be 'standard.' I started to learn to dress for my body type, accepting that I'm not waif, my arms are big and my boobs are big.

But I still battle with many things, I still wish I could just wear sleeveless clothing but my insecurities won't let me (I have a problem with showing my arms) , and I don't feel good about myself around strangers without ten layers of make up." 

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Marla Darwin, also one of the movement's cheerleaders said, "I take issue with how a lot of well-meaning people telling me how I should feel about my body. I sit on top of the privilege heap being a skinny size 4, but I still have my insecurities.

I have a huge bra size, which motherhood exacerbated.

Every time I step out in a bathing suit or I'm around people when I'm dressing up, I always deal with comments about my boobs. When I say that I don't like having them, I get drowned with people saying I'm so lucky, I shouldn't complain, etc."

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"I dropped a lot of weight in a very unhealthy manner in late 2015/early 2016, at the height of my freshly diagnosed clinical depression. And I thought it would make me happier, but even when I dropped two dress sizes and weighed in at 114—the thinnest I'd been since I was a pre-teen, so thin that my parents were freaking out—nothing changed. I didn't like myself better, I wasn't happier, I didn't suddenly meet the love of my life because I was thin and conventionally attractive. And it was an amazing realization.

I'm hovering at 130 again, and while I still don't necessarily like the way I look and still feel unattractive (lol blame it on my long distance ex who basically told me I let myself go right before telling me he had sex with someone else), I'm also not unhappy.

I've been enjoying life; it's really others' expectations that I grapple with. If I were in a room by myself, I'd be great, but when I step out, it's like that pressure to look the way people think I should look just rears its ugly head again and makes me feel like less.

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And I hate that," commented Regina Belmonte.

Another commenter, Emily, also shared about her skin color. "One of my challenges is coming to terms with colorism amongst Filipinas, and how it has affected me at different stages in my life.

"I was dark all my childhood. As in, people would make Black people jokes about it and comment about how my yaya was lighter than me ("How can she be the house maid when you're so dark?") and how I shouldn't play outdoor sports."

If you want to read more stories, we've included the post that started it all below.

Let's talk body positivity! Did you relate to any of the struggles the other females had (or still have)? 

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Mara Agner
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If you know me, and know me well, I am not the biggest fan of idyllic lifestyles. With a Type A personality, I act immediately upon whatever challenge that needs to be addressed. I actually enjoy keeping my mind preoccupied: doing university work in my favourite cafe then running errands around town, grocery shopping here, updating my accounts there, photocopying documents on the way down the street - all just in time before having a glass of champagne at the bar with my friends come evening.

And so, you could imagine my bewilderment when the next challenge to be faced was an extensive self-quarantine protocol. I didn’t know what to do when my greatest responsibility in this situation was to do nothing at all. My first few attempts to combat my consternation were very much rooted in distraction and imagination. My distractions involved conducting research, writing songs, calling family and friends, filming videos, and eating chocolate! My imaginations and fantasies were centred on travelling, shopping, even clubbing (which I rarely do) for when they find a cure to COVID-19. I did anything and everything that could be considered constructive in order to pass the time, mainly hoping I could just undertake the basic human necessities to survive - that is, eat and sleep the day through - until the next day comes, until the world is closer to becoming a better place, until quarantine ends, until my flight follows through, until I see my family and friends again.

Days in self-isolation and suspended flights turned to weeks and turned to months. By the third extension here in Spain where I study Fashion Business, I had to tell myself this shall be my new normal now, that I was blessed to be healthy, that I was tired of merely existing and missed what it was like to actually live - even if just within four walls. Little by little, I began to find significance in the simple occurrences of the day: the soft glare of the rising sun beaming golden streaks through my bedroom window upon waking up, the fragrance of freshly washed bed sheets that I had painstakingly hung to fit a relatively small clothes rack without crumpling them, the crunch and tanginess of warm toasted bread topped with raspberry marmalade, the buzzing sound of a phone call from home just waiting to be answered, to the caress of a fuzzy sweater to keep warm at night. I realised, “What pleasures to be enjoyed in the pause of slow living!” Through this continued pause, which I loathed at first, I began to appreciate each moment of the day rather than wish it would pass more swiftly, moments I had overlooked so often before the lockdown. I started to find that the challenge of self-isolation was never to pause both the regular routines of life as well as the positive emotions that came with these - as initially, I thought it meant to pause all happiness, so as to withstand a time of endurance in hopes for a better tomorrow, much like a form of delaying gratification. Life is just too fragile these days to delay gratification any further.

Life has paused, but it has not stopped. Believe that like any punctuation mark in a sentence, the pause will provide the right timing of things to take place. Till then, let us not waste our time waiting. Instead, we could be in the moment, seek substance in simplicity (that is, in what we already have), And enjoy the pleasure in pause. “Practice the Pause. When in doubt, pause. When angry, pause. When tired, pause. When stressed, pause. And when you pause, pray.”

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