The Skinny on the Skinny, The Flat on the Flat

I am skinny. I was a skinny girl who grew up to be a skinny woman.

***

Puberty arrived a little late in grade school. I was already awkward then when all these growing up things occurred, which just made me even more awkward. I was a bit envious of my gradeschool friends who already looked like full-grown women. Their bodies already have shape, they have already grown breasts, their hips have widened and their bottoms have become plumper. I thought I’d be the same come my period. But nothing happened, even after years of monthly bleeding.

My mother was alarmed of my health. My weight was no longer proportional with my height. She had me eggs every day, aside from the smoothie (?) she prepared which consisted of raw eggs, chocolate, banana, and milk. It tastes good you know, but it kind of wears you off knowing you are basically fine and wasn’t sick or something but had to do/drink it anyway.

***

I remember wearing my first brassiere in high school. It did not fit me well. The A cup size was already too large for me, but my mother insisted that I should start wearing because that’s just what a growing woman should do. I came to school the next day and people thought I grew boobs overnight. I was teased – that it was all pad and air inside. They asked me if I had put in pieces of bread to make up for the hollow spaces. I hated these jokes. Aside from the fact that these are corny Pinoy jokes, they were all just mocking me.

I hated that they associated flat chested-ness with me. I hate it when flat chested comes up their thought bubbles when they hear my name. I hate it that they made fun of what I didn’t have or what I partially had. I hated people because I was aware that I am more than my lack of boobs. I’m smart and witty. But this was the idea of me that stuck to them. I mean, come on! This is puberty people, you learn this in school, along with GMRC, so be nice to those having this kind of bad phase.

Good thing, I was not the type to dwell on physical things. I give credit to my parents for always telling me that I have my brains to boot and nadaaah to what other people say about how I look. Flat-chestedness did not become an insecurity. I was no longer looking at other girl’s boobs. I mean, what do I get from comparing anyway? The story went on, and I made it through high school skinny and flat.

College came and the people I knew were less judgmental. Must be the carefree environment of the university, or the theoretical and serious approach of the academe, or must be my course’s focus on thinking and problematizing, or maybe we were more drawn on what appeals to the mind rather than the physical.

Adulthood came and I still had the same body type. I don’t remember anyone mock me as much as in high school. Or maybe they do, but I just shrug my shoulders and that’s it. I met a lot of people, men and women, and not even one dared to take make a big deal out of it. Well, except for my current boss who thinks I have the perfect model type body (at size 0 or even smaller); he even transforms me to a mannequin at times. And honestly, that is kind of gratifying, knowing finally, someone takes high regard of what others have made you feel terrible about.

I guess it’s just that people really get into dirty and awkward phases, or worse, never get out of it. My story is no less different as those who have been mocked and laughed at most of the time because of what they lacked. It’s a struggle, but it’s just a matter of acceptance – of knowing and being aware of who and what and how you are and turning everything around for your own good. After all, what people see is in you is what you pass on to them.

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To All The Profs I’ve Loved Before

A little more than ten years ago, when asked what I wanted to be when I grow up. I cheerfully say “I want to be a teacher”. It was in the late years of elementary I decided not to be one because realized I will never ever possess the required patience of the job.

I remember not having a favorite person from the faculty in grade school and high school. Though I must thank my Language and Phoenix, and Reading Comprehension teachers in grade school. They made a mean grammarnazi out of me. They pre-arranged my love for books and the creepy silence of the library. They made reading and writing a leisure – from which I decided to quit Language and Literature in college, fearing I won’t be reading and writing the same way again.

I owe “Thank you” to my Values teacher in high school who required the entire class to read Antoine de Saint Exupery’s The Little Prince and made me read aloud my analysis of each chapter. Those were the earliest Barthes exercises, I guess. And to my fourth year English teacher who made me speak of 19th century literature. I felt amazing presenting in class that George Elliot was actually Mary Ann Evans and so other literary trivia. It felt like disclosing Illuminati secrets in national TV. I was an awesome geek. And I owe another word of gratitude to my fourth year adviser who gave our class daily dosage of the chill pill. She taught us to let loose and be fun midst the stress and pressure of finding a good college.

Then came college, which was a lot different. Spending it in UP made it complicated. I had to juggle academics and extra curricular activities. Not to mention, UP is a microcosm of society. There are different communities and you get to interact and deal with them one way or another. My professors made the whole journey more than bearable. The varied approaches of learning made learning itself interesting. Along the way, what I initially found complicated, I eventually deemed enthralling. UP paved the way for the real world. My professors did.

Yes, UP profs, They laid out facts, opened possibilities. They taught me that matters should be viewed like a a kaleidoscope. It should be seen in different perspectives to get a better understanding. And you take everything and every angle with it – the bad and the good, the beautiful and the ugly. They taught me that it’s the same thing with life. You can look at it whichever way you desire, but you have to accept it with all its positive and negative aspects. Use whatever is too much to make up for the less. Balance what makes you feel bad with what makes you feel better. Seek knowledge for that you lack understanding of. Take challenges as lessons.

With this, I certainly owe them more than thank you’s.

*This post makes me want to go back to school. Seriously.

Day 26: Dear P,

Our pre-school yearbook is a narrative of how our story began. Our high school yearbook can attest to how much we have changed. But stories need not always be inscribed in pages. Memories need not always be in photos.

Change, growth, maturity – they actually came after sheets were bound.

Day 19: Dear N,

I remember you as one of the people who worried too much about me going some place else for college. You used to warn me of the climate and scares of the city. You told me I was a stubborn kid for pushing through.

You used to call me at exactly twelve noon every midweek. But gradually, they declined, until I never get to talk to you again.

Nobody knows where you are now.