In Asia, people talk about other people’s appearances a lot, and they don't find it judgmental.
I was told by my uncle, mum, friends and even my building’s security guard that I’d gained weight. Of course, they’re telling you for your own good, because as my mum always says, “Your ass is getting too big, you really have to lose weight.”
I’ve lived with my body for 30 years, and you don't think I realise the changes in my body?!
And what exactly does my body have to do with the security in my building?
No one finds it offensive here. Girls seem to accept the culture and belief that no matter whether they’re 5 or 6 feet tall, they must be under 100 lbs.
This discontent includes my girlfriends, too. They’re never satisfied with their bodies either. “Oh look!” they say. “My ‘goodbye meat’ (meaning the flesh near your armpit that swings when you say good-bye) and my muffin top just got bigger!”
There is no denial that women are different from men. We care so much about our appearance, especially the way we come off to the other sex, and our confidence often comes from others. We have to be strong enough to safeguard ourselves from being affected by the social norm, the benchmark, which unfortunately took me years to understand.
FROM SKINNY RIB TO LITTLE FATTIE
Many people have a nickname, and most nicknames have to do with our appearance. Before the age of 6, I was a tiny kid who had respiratory and skin problems. I grew up with lots of pills, strange Chinese herbs (think reptile herbal soup) and eczema cream. I weighed hardly more than 50 pounds and I was called the Skinny Rib. Ironically, that would be the last time I was called skinny.
At the age of 10, I weighed more than 150 pounds and could eat two burgers in one go. My primary schoolteacher named me Little Fattie — just to differentiate me and Big Fattie, the other large girl in the class. I wasn't very aware of the nickname, and didn’t find it as fun as classmates did, but everyone just started calling me that. Even now when I meet with friends they still call me Little Fattie.
Just like other high school girls, I began to become very self-conscious about my weight and tried all means to lose some of it — though it is a bit hard for me as I look twice as big as the others. I went to the doctor for diet pills (I think it may have been illegal) and had them on and off until university. I tried the “black coffee” diet along with little food (broccoli, crackers and eggs to be exact) and developed skin allergies. But the best thing about the diet was that I could have ice cream! Oh, trust me. The Beyonce diet with maple syrup, lemon juice and chili doesn't work. Not to mention the grapefruit diet. I could name the calories of each food and weigh myself before and after toilet as often and as easily as washing my hands.
Still... I was called the Little Fattie.
NO REGRETS, I LOVE GOOD FOOD
No matter how hard I try, good food seems to run in my blood and my life. My dad was a chef and my family members are all into F&B business. The idea of having quality food is a family tradition and also a way of life. I never liked McDonald’s, and my favorite books were recipe books.
I never knew what I wanted to do, but life seemed to go the way I wanted. And I always wanted to get into the cultural industry, be it the media or arts. After graduation, I had the chance to become the personal assistant to the publisher of a new luxury lifestyle magazine. She thought my temper was so bad that she kicked me onto the editorial team.
After a year filled with champagne and fancy goods, I got really fed up with the corrupted world called luxury. I joined the food section of a local magazine, where I worked for a couple of years, and later switched to the travel section. Oh yeah, my travel plans often revolve around food as well. You must be thinking, You have the best job ever! But think about it: When you travel, you eat more than you would at home, because you think, I’m never coming back to this place. But what if you travel every month? Too much eating, huh?
For work, I do a lot of food tasting. For life, I have a lot of friends who enjoy food as much as I do. And I faithfully maintain my hobby, my Instagram @FoodandTravelHK, which takes lots of food too.
My weight never goes down. I get stressed with work. I eat more. I gain weight. Then I get even more stressed out. The cycle goes on and on.
IT'S THAT SIMPLE TO BE HAPPY
Three years ago when I was overwhelmed by work, my skin became full of radish eczema and my weight reached the highest in my life. I quit my job and went to a fasting program in Taiwan where I only drank water for 7 days, and THAT was life changing. Not only did I lose weight, but the program also changed my eating habits. My diet became more plant-based and I became more cognizant of my daily routine. No overnight work. More exercise. Don't stress. Wholesome and delicious food.
And guess what? My weight actually went down and stabilized (at least I feel like it did — I stopped weighing myself). My skin problem also relieved itself.
As I grow older, I do feel chubbier than I used to, but that’s probably because of my metabolism. But I also feel happier and more charming, simply because when you have a healthy life, you have a healthy body and mind, which in turn gives you more energy to do everything and be more confident. After all, we don't need others to give us confidence. You shouldn’t rely on guys telling you how beautiful you are, but should believe that beauty comes from within. It really does. I have seen many beautiful girls who have no faith in themselves. After seeing them a couple of times, their charm is just gone. I have also met a lot of “chubby” girls who are very popular, because they live their own way. They glow with intelligence, a sense of humour and confidence.
And one last thing I’ve figured out: First you have to love yourself, then everything else just comes along.
— Gloria Chung x UDD
SUPERPOWER SMILE & HUMOUR
People seem to be very happy when I smile and make jokes. I hope that something so organic will keep bringing happiness to others.
If you’ve ever met someone and felt like you’ve known that person your whole life, that’s Gloria. She’s grounded, confident, and has a wonderful sense of self. Our first meeting was like two old friends reconnecting after lost time. Her personality is vibrant and witty. You get the feeling she’s as comfortable dining at a tony restaurant, as she is hanging on a corner eating street food. She can even drop the occasional (but very well placed) f-bomb that sends you into absolute hysteria! She has, well. . .charm. And she makes an interesting point. You can have all the beauty in world, but if you have no faith in yourself, you lose.. . lose your self, your personality, your charm. Gloria lives her own way.
She’s found a beauty from within and it glows!
What have people told you is for your own good? And what have you found out is actually for your good? I'd love to hear your answers. Share them in the comments below.