Body Image

1 min

It’s Youth Takeover week at KQED and in this Perspective, Arella Tarapan says her struggles with body image are about far more than weight.

In high school, students struggle to find who they really are. Something that girls and boys alike struggle with is body image.

Ever since I was young, I never felt good about my body. I grew up chubbier than my peers. My shirt was a size larger and my cheeks bounced with every step I took. I couldn’t run as fast. I always sat and had a snack while my peers were being active. As I grew up, I became more self-aware that I was different.

I couldn’t wear the trendy crop tops. I couldn’t wear shorts without feeling self-conscious about how pale and stubby my legs looked.

When I was asked why I didn’t lose weight I just smiled and tried not to cry.

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It’s more than having extra weight. It’s comparing myself to every single person. It’s looking at my chubby fingers and then looking at my friend’s elegant and skinny hands. It’s trying so hard to start eating less, or not at all. It’s declining offers to go out with friends to eat so I can study or do something that satisfies in a way my body can’t. It’s trying to mold yourself into someone you’re not, a version of yourself made for others.

I started wearing makeup to cover the little imperfections on my face that made me me, and drew attention to my face instead of my body. I caved to social standards. I wore mascara to make my eyes bigger and “less-Asian”. I wore baggy shirts and sucked in my gut whenever I walked.

As time passed, despite the hurtful comments, I realized it was all completely and utterly useless. It’s slowly and gradually the path to self-destruction. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t put on makeup every morning. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have my bland fashion sense, my black leggings and a big hoodie.

Of course, I have my moments where I feel like every pair of eyes is judging me, but the things that started from trying to fit in makes me different.

I have no one to impress but myself.

With a Perspective, I’m Arella Taparan.

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Arella Taparan is a student at Santa Clara High School. Her Perspective was produced as part of KQED’s Youth Takeover week.

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