Life turns into a roller-coaster trip when one becomes a teenage girl. In such a short time, you change from being a child to a young woman. You encounter challenges after challenges, from getting used to that time of the month, the hormonal influx (boy, do I know that!), and of course, most visibly are the changes to one’s body. Ah yes, the appearance of curves and bulges in all their glory.
You can consider me lucky or unlucky. My body developed quite rapidly, and so, by the time I was 14, I was already of a “mature” built. The story begins when I came home to Indonesia at that age, after having been away for a year. I was excited and euphoric to be returning home: the hustle and bustle, the culture, the FOOD! But quickly, that trip proved to be not so pleasant.
As I rekindled family connections and friendships , it wasn’t “I miss you” or “It’s great to see you again” that I got. Oh, no! The first thing most people would say when they saw me ranged from “You look really different!” to “Wow, you must’ve gained a lot of weight” and “You should eat less.” I was not only hurt; I was shattered. As some of you would know, it’s hard enough being a teenager; I didn’t need to be constantly reminded of the changes.
Such comments did not only affect the rest of my trip – I became wearier of my weight and my eating habits – it also shaped the rest of my teenage-hood. I began to pinpoint the flaws on my body. I would strip down and stare at myself in front of the mirror to see where things are bulgier or bigger than it should be. It wasn’t helpful either that my puberty was in no way finished. It’s only at its early stages! And so begun my journey of getting comments about my weight, my body, and my lifestyle.
Truth is, I was lucky to be living an extremely healthy lifestyle. I ate homemade, healthy, vegetarian-oriented meals. Living in Australia, we have no need to buy a car, so I take the bus, walk, or ride my bike, while still having extra physical activities such as jogging and swimming. By no means was I overweight or obese – I am merely big boned.
But it didn’t just stop there. Being a “curvy" young girl, I found that I was increasingly told what to do when it came to what to wear each time I returned home to Indonesia. T-Shirts had to be looser, shorts had to be longer, and skirts? Oh I really didn’t use skirts outside of the four walls of my home.
Outside seeing my dearest family, returning home becomes more of a battlefield than a holiday. It wasn’t until early this year, at age 17, that I became fully proud of my own body. The journey hadn’t been easy. It involved multiple rounds of crying and self-doubt, but, really, it shouldn’t have been necessary.
I was lucky to have such a beautiful family, my mother, my aunties, my grandmother, all of them keep on telling me that I’m beautiful just the way I am. That my size 12 body does not mean that I am overweight or obese or unhealthy or not beautiful. On the contrary, I should embrace it.
And so begun my journey of not only self-realization, but also of empowerment. Day after day I see pictures and statements from girls expressing their unhappiness with their body, when in reality they are all incredibly beautiful. We live in such body-shaming society that nowadays its not even wrong to come up to a girl and say, “You are fat.” It is such an incredibly horrid world for a woman to live in, especially a teenage girl.
How hard is it to change the paradigm of weight? Come up to a girl and say, “you’re beautiful” and encourage her to be true to herself and not conform to society’s expectation. Help other people, don’t put them down, and don’t bully them. Really, can’t we go back to being a society that prides itself on being the nicest and most accepting one in the world?
Oh, and the end to my story? I was indeed lucky to have the body that I have now, just like any girl is lucky to have the body that they have! It’s an amazing feeling to be so wonderfully happy with oneself!
By day, Adeline Tinessia is a college student who is becoming increasingly stressed about her school work. By night, she is a jazz enthusiast, filling her time playing some tunes on the bass and piano.