Friday, March 11, 2022

The Path to Perfection

I don’t recall the exact moment I started to lose my confidence but it was definitely after I moved to the Philippines. 

I was the only Asian when we lived in Germany, as well as the shortest one in class. But no one ever pointed that out. I was the only one whose first language wasn’t Deutsch, but no one ever made fun of me. In fact, they helped me become better at it. I was the only one who could get through English classes without having to study but I was never smart-shamed. I sucked at all of the sports you were supposed to be good at there. But it didn’t matter. Because I was trying.

In Bangkok, I weighed almost 200 pounds. I spent my days lying under the sun and getting darker and darker. But no one ever commented on my appearance. My weight and my skin tone didn’t faze me then. Today, everything fazes me.

I spend a lot of time (more than I’d like to admit) lying in bed and wondering how I can improve on my “flaws”. Heels for my height. Practicing Tagalog so as not to have an accent for people to pick on. Practicing English with a slight accent so people won’t feel intimidated when I speak it. What to eat and how much to exercise even though I’m currently just a little overweight. I've started caring about what time I go to the pool or the beach now so I don’t get TOO dark. Sometimes, I stare at food I really love and calculate the calories in my head. I spend a lot of time staring at the white hair growing on my head and the facial lines that are starting to show on my face even though it’s all a part of natural aging.

And it’s depressing. The person I have become within the decade I’ve been here isn’t the confident person she once was.

We live in a country where so many people judge you for so many things and where it’s practically impossible to get anything right.

I came here speaking English and got the “nosebleed” comments so I learned the language and now I get the “ang pangit mo mag Tagalog” comments.

I lost weight and became a size 0 and was called anorexic. Now that I’m a Medium, I’m being called fat. When my hair was long… “Hindi ka ba na bibigatan sa buhok mo?” When I cut it short… “it looked better long.”

People constantly make unwarranted comments about our appearance, our failures, our decisions, and our achievements. There’s always something to be said. There’s always something wrong. And sometimes, these comments even come from complete strangers.

I know I’m not supposed to care what other people think. I know I’m supposed to just brush off negative comments, especially in my line of work, but that’s easier said than done. Particularly given my mental illness, these negative comments repeat themselves in my head at the most random times and they become a mantra that eat me up every day.

Last month, I started going through plastic surgery options because a part of me hopes that if I look perfect - if I look the part people want me to look - maybe the negativity will go away. But today I realized that it won’t. 

There’s something about Filipino culture and nitpicking and finding flaws that simply won’t go away. But I’m tired. And I wish people here would just be kinder. 


  1. You look amazing. Have a great week.

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