It’s not just plus-sized people who get body-shamed. Body-shaming affects people of all shapes and sizes, for as long as the person is bullied or ridiculed for their looks or physical differences:
“I went home to my [lola’s] house for her birthday. I knew someone was going to tell me ‘Tumaba ka,’ so I braced myself for it. True enough, upon entering the gate, someone commented, ‘Ang taba mo ngayon!’ At first I ignored it. When I got to the buffet table, an aunt commented, ‘Tumaba ka ha!’ This time, I slowly turned around and said, ‘You know what, I’m not fat. Hindi ako tumaba because in fact, I got thinner. I lost 10 pounds and I’m thinnest among everyone here in the room. Stop telling me I’m fat.’ Thankfully, this Tita didn’t get angry. She realized her own mistake, smiled sheepishly, and said, ‘Oo nga no.’” –Tara, 31, entrepreneur
“I always wanted to be a supermodel. But growing up, I was really overweight. One day, my classmate in grade school said, ‘Ang taba mo. Hindi ka na kasya sa upuan!’ out loud in class. I was hurt. I went home, cried, and told my parents about it. My mom comforted me and told me not to mind my classmate. I was so determined to lose weight and just prove people wrong. But nothing really worked because I continued my old eating habits.
I was 14 when I started my modeling career. I told myself it’s the start of something new. I knew that they’d contact me only if they need plus-sized models. I was so happy to tell my family and friends that I attend VTRs, but how they reacted wasn’t the kind of support I needed to hear. Some said, ‘Kapalit ka ni Dabiana’ or ‘Siguro kakain ka lang nang kakain sa mga role mo.’ I was really offended. It took me almost a year to enjoy what I’m doing.
From my old self who wasn’t getting enough sleep and eating poorly, I decided I want to do better. I stood up for myself and made sure to not let anyone hurt me again. Whenever someone tries to fat-shame me, I would respond by saying that no one is really ugly—fat, thin, or whatnot—unless you’re born with an ugly heart. Beauty comes in different shapes and sizes, and I don’t really need validation from anyone. Always love yourself!” –Anne, 24, research analyst
“I love reading those witty articles that talk about how to respond to ‘Uy parang tumaba ka!’ I always use the snarky responses from those articles, like ‘Mayaman kasi ako, kaya may pambili ako ng pagkain,’ ‘Eh ikaw, pumangit,’ and my all-time favorite, ‘Kayo rin po, Tita, tumaba.’ Their reactions are priceless.” –Michelle, 25, writer
“I’ve been the ‘fat girl’ all my life, so my experience with body-shaming came at an early age, mostly from my peers who just didn’t know any better. The hardest part about growing up as the big girl was having positive things about you invalidated because of your outward appearance. It didn’t matter that I was actually eating healthy, was fairly active, loved being outdoors, and that whenever we had physical exams all my results would come back attesting to my great health.
It all just didn’t add up for people because I wasn’t payat. I’m fortunate though to have discovered body positivity, and it manifested in college when I was more exposed to different types of people. I though that if the only thing people could shit on about me was my being fat, but they couldn’t say anything negative about my attitude—my intelligence, talents, or work ethic—then I know I’ve won.
Since you know your body better than anyone ever will, take time to listen to it. If you know you’re treating it right (what you consume, your exercise, hygiene, etc.), but it just doesn’t manifest as skinny, then girl, you are still on the right track! Body-shamers should just find something better to do.” –Isa, 26, media relations officer
“During my last trip to the beach, we rented a boat and went snorkeling. I was trying to get back on the boat when the piece of wood holding the tarp dislodged and I fell back in the water. The boatman said I’m too heavy and should ‘reduce.’ I told him in Filipino, ‘Well, you need to learn how to build a stronger boat.’” –Janice, 34, voice actress
“Skinny girls get body-shamed, too. Whenever people come up to me and comment on how skinny I am, I just smile and respond, ‘When have I ever not been skinny?’ Everyone just laughs and agrees. But it gets really annoying, especially when the comments come from people who’ve known me since my younger years.
Some ask what my diet plan looks like, if I still eat, and how many times I eat in a day or in a week! I actually eat like a normal person, sometimes even more. Some even tease that I’m anorexic or bulimic. I’m not sick. The worst is when people assume I do drugs: The skinny girl with tattoos.
The struggle of being underweight versus overweight or skinny versus chubby is similar. I’ve never gained weight as much as I wanted to. I was unhappy with my body type. Just because I have the body type that someone wants, it doesn’t give you the right to bully or judge me. I wanted the curvy body type so bad. In my early ’20s, I slowly accepted the body I have. My metabolism is fast. I’m an ectomorph. I eat what I want to eat, when I want to eat. I walk in the morning as exercise—because I want to, not because people tell me to. I feel good.
I never felt something was wrong with me until people assumed there was. I’m still learning to ignore what they say or think, because it’s not that easy. Sometimes my rebuttal to these comments is, ‘Oh, I have sex a lot. You should try it; It’s a good workout!’ It’s like my trademark; when they see me, they will remember that, and will no longer bother asking why I’m so skinny. For me, either I say something like that, or just ignore them and keep smiling, because there is nothing wrong with me. This is my body. If I stay like this forever, it’s fine. And if I gain weight in the future, that’s okay too. I have learned to love it and will continue loving it.” –Mandy, 29, fashion designer
“After two kids, it has been a challenge to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. People would sometimes tease me about it. I usually smile or laugh it off, but I wish I had the guts to be sarcastic and say something like, ‘How observant of you!’ or ‘That’s not very sensitive of you,’ or maybe, ‘You’re looking good yourself!’ When somebody says, ‘Di kita nakilala, ang taba mo na!’ I wish I could say, ‘Di rin kita nakilala, parang tumanda ka!’ But the best response I think I have made is to pretend that I didn’t hear anything. Ignore the person and just walk away.” –Yannah, 32, music teacher
“Being an ectomorph, I was stick thin as a child. No matter how much I’d eat, I never got fat, even when taking appetite enhancers, vitamins, or even Combantrin because I thought I had worms in my tummy. I also had long limbs that looked so awkward that I would hide them to avoid being teased. On top of it all, I developed scoliosis. My then college boyfriend always picked on my ‘ugly’ feet and other body parts. According to my schoolmates, I should count myself lucky to even have a boyfriend. When I joined the world of fashion and beauty after college, a photographer commented that I was never going to be model material because of my scoliosis. As a blogger, I often got comments on my flaws.
It was when I started yoga and pole dancing that I learned to accept my body—flaws and all. My teachers and classmates taught me that we are all beautiful whatever our shape, height, cup size, spine angle, and skin color. Instead of worrying on how our bodies look, it’s what our bodies can do. This has made me love my body for what it has become—strong.” –Bambi, 35, yoga teacher and pole dancer
“I’m an inbetweener model—not thin enough for high-fashion ramp modeling, but not big enough to be considered plus-sized. I usually get body-shamed by stylists, directors, agents, and assistants. A stylist once told me, ‘Ay, ang taba mo pala!’ as he styled me for a TV commercial. The irony is: He’s morbidly obese. I watched as he panted and wheezed throughout the shoot. He was obviously suffering from health issues, and I actually felt sorry for him. These days, whenever I’m at a shoot and get criticized for my thick thighs or waist, I hold my head up high, look the person straight in the eye, and say, ‘It’s okay because I still got the project.’ Shame me all you want, but I always book the TV commercial roles anyway.” –Kat, 28, model
“Our family has always been skinny. At an early age, my parents taught me to embrace and accept myself for who I am. Of course, studying in an all-girls school, I got teased a lot for being ‘too skinny’ and flat-chested. This bothered me. My parents even told me to run some tests and check if I had hyperthyroidism. The results came out and I didn’t have it. The doctor explained that my metabolism was just really fast. He did give me tips on how to put on some weight and exercise so that I won’t look too fragile.
During an out-of-town trip in my early ’20s, a stranger called my attention at the hotel lobby and started shouting, ‘Day, day! Anorexia, anorexia!’ She kept on saying it over and over again. I knew the people in the room heard it loud and clear. I burst into tears and kept on saying, ‘No! Kumakain ako.’ My friends had to pull me aside and calm me down afterward.
I came across this internet meme: ‘I’d like to point out that telling someone they’re too skinny and must eat a burger and put some meat on those bones is just as rude as telling someone they’re fat and must go on a diet.’
That pushed me to be proactive and show them that I am healthy and contented with my body structure. But why do I need to impress them? If I am happy with myself, then that should reflect outwards, too. I started to look for ways to love myself and take care of myself more so that I can stop hearing these negative comments. My body is not perfect, but it’s a work in progress. I now regularly do yoga, body jam, and trekking. I quit smoking. I don’t eat a lot in one sitting but I do eat five to seven small meals a day. I’m proud to say that this year, I was able to achieve the strength and weight I’ve always wanted. I feel good about myself 100 percent.” –Char, 33, PR practitioner