Body Positivity #bodytalk on RTHK Radio 3 #2 – Marina Bay

Hi Everyone!

Welcome to Curves in Asia #Bodytalk series Episode 2 – Today our guest is Marina Bay, the founder and CEO of Befast tv – a tech start up multimedia website and also a friend of mine.

Our guest for this episode is different from the rest of the guests I have on my list because Marina has never been exposed to the subject of Body Positivity, so she’s a great example of how people receive the subject.

From Marina’s story, it could be something worth studying for us to see from the other side and feel the perspective.

To describe Marina

If I were to describe Marina, I would say that she is a brave individual who is doing something different and unique in a men’s world. Marina has a start up Befast.tv that covers mostly tech events and has to constantly interview founders and CEO of tech companies.

The tech world which is dominated by men, where women only hold 26 percent of all jobs in the industry, is a scary place to enter. The entry barrier is also difficult if you have no knowledge in the field, so, to be in the game as a woman founder, she has to be fearless and focus on what she knows, how she gets hold of the information and what she wants to achieve, in her own way.

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Marina represents the new media and I like how founders like her is shaping the media into a better place, now and soon in the future. By recruiting talents and not focusing on appearance, we can slowly get away from conventional and tradition media mindsets.

I feel that nowadays, in order to enter a new marekt, you don’t have to climib up from the bottom of the food chain, as long as you do it with a goal using the resources you can get and go at it.  I admire her braveness and so today I talk to her about her job and also some aspects on body image and see what she says.

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Body positivity

Why do I think talking to Marina, someone who is not in the body positivity movement, as a perspective worth studying? It is because, for the population whom are affected by body image issues or any confidence issues, we tend to have difficulties owning up to our abilities hence the insecurity often renders the choices we make to further our achievements.

In short, our confidence in ourselves can be affected by having our appearance judged, stereotyped, attacked or bullied by others.

Perhaps it is the fear of judgement, we become self conscious about how we are being perceived as a person, we have to “tip toe around others” about the way we look like ( having to tuck our shirts to hide our bellies, wear baggy clothes to hide our bodies or not wearing bikini), what we eat (not eating junk food in front of others, fear of eating in public), basically how we live our lives.

If we were constantly being told not worthy of who we are, not being good enough and undermine our abilities and skills because of it , under this long term influence, we will focus too much on what is on the outside, and neglect our abilities to become someone we want ourselves to be.

Moreover, if we grow up in such an environment, it is hard to believe that once we became adult, we could just throw these issues away and start doing things fearlessly.

Body positivity is what we strive for, on one hand, we try our best to fight the stigma of being labelled of the way we look; by conversations, by promoting a positive way of how we communicate about bodies; on the other hand, ultimately, I want to demonstrate that, no matter what size we are, we need to not see our appearance as an issue, set aside what we think is stopping us from what we want to do, and to know our worth as a person is more than the worth of  our looks and our bodies.

(Yes, it might be easier said than done, but we have to start somewhere)

#bodytalk on RTHK Radio 3

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Getting back to the talk show, my questions to Marina (who’s probably not affected by body image issues in a long term) may sound blunt and provocative, but in the name of exploration and see what answers we will get out of it. We have went through certain topics include,

How did she breakthrough and how did she launched her career?

What does she do when she wants to achieve something for herself ?

What does she think about body image problem and does she think many are facing it in her world?

Has she heard of the term “thin privilege”, something we say to divide women who thinks we are being treated unfairly due to the way we look?

I also wonder myself, is the different between someone like Marina (no body image issues) and someone like me (had body image issues) is stopping people from doing things they love? or are we just focusing too much on the wrong things?

During the break of our interview, I have asked her a question and her answer was not recorded, about her VJs, they are all very beautiful and look like models, so it’s easy to assume these girls are hired for their look. But I asked Marina the reason why she chose them, it was because naturally, the people who wants to work in TV or media are the ones with more confidence in their looks, knowing that they will always be appearing in the public, that’s one of the reason why the VJs are very pretty, 2nd, these Vjs are absolutely able and qualify for their job as they are equipped with journalism and marketing work experiences and qualification, therefore it is not a reason why we should see if as how it appears. Point taken.

You will hear about it in our talk today, which you might even be able to find answers for yourself on how if a person is not affected negatively by body issues, can be fearless and do what one loves love. I hope eventually we can achieve as much as anyone else the way we want things to be because we are not being affected by it at all.

xB

Body Positivity #bodytalk on RTHK Radio 3 #1

Hi all!

The 1st episode of Curves in Asia Body talk was on air on Friday 15th Oct, 2016. It is an absolute honour for me to be with RTHK 3 to talk about body positivity, a topic Hong Kong has rarely tapped into!

Our first guest of the show is Michelle Elman of Mindset for Life Ltd.

About Michelle

Michelle is a remarkable strong woman. She has experienced 15 surgeries since she was born; not only she had to go through having serious sickness since a young age, she also has to learn to live with the scars that came with the unfortunate events in her life.

But her scars do not define who she is, her inspirational spirit does!

Michelle holds a psychology degree and is qualified as a Master Neuro-linguistic programming (NPL) Practitioner and Master NLP Coach.

Nowadays Michelle shares her story to the world aiming to inspire people to love the body they are in. She has also set up her company Mindset for Life Ltd. as a body confidence coach so she can help people that are struggling with body image, to rebuild their confidence again.

img_3968Body Talk 1st Episode content 

During the show, we talked about Michelle’s experience of her life bearing scars, how body image affected her childhood and the liberating moment when she first wore a bikini to advocate for body positivity. Since then, Michelle started the #scarrednotscared campaign in hope to normalise scars on bodies and to and remove the fear from our society.

(Watch her campaign and her story here being published in the dailymail.co.uk)

We have also talked about the stigma that is ingrained in our society about fat bodies, fatphobia, as some of the things women has to endure at all times and the difference of being plus size in Asia and in the west.

There are a few highlights I would like to sum up about our talk,

  • Having scars on our body is not abnormal and it is nothing to be ashamed of
  • We need to raise awareness in the society that the perfect images on TV and magazines do not reflect the reality
  • Why we think that people criticise on fat bodies and what we can do to help raise awareness about Health at every size
  • The parenting method that could help build confidence in our children and what we can educate them about body image issue

Listen to our show here <3

What really is Body Positivity (Bopo)?

Apart from what we talked about during the show, I feel that we have more to explore when it comes to body positivity, and so I have asked Michelle some more questions on the topic for this blog post.

img_4728Bertha: I know your body confidence campaign tapped on many different subjects on body image and you are an active body positive activist, do you feel that the world view is changing and what we can do in daily life to help advocate it?

Michelle: I do believe the world is changing. Body positivity is something which most people hadn’t even heard a decade ago – me included.
So I do believe there has been growth and development. That being said, we still have more work to do and on an individual basis, the way to start is being sensitive about your language and inclusive in your actions. I also believe that if you begin with your own self love journey, you are adding to the body positive movement.

Bertha: Things about Bopo are said so many times but there is still not a encyclopaedia to explaining these terms to people, do you think the way Bopo warriors provoke is making the idea being perceived better or worse?

Michelle: I agree. Everyone has different definitions for body positivity and self love. The terms and the definitions seem to shift from person to person and that’s what makes it even more confusing.
This is why I always clarify how I define words before using them. For example, you shouldn’t call a person fat unless you know the person uses it in an empowering way.
This is a trigger word for so many because this was the word that was often used when they were bullied so it’s important to be sensitive to that instead of plowing through regardless with your own agenda.

Bertha: We see comments online everyday on posts of bopo and I see so many people misinterpreted the idea and say bopo is not positive, “It’s actually just lazy people’s excuses to not work hard on their own body, if they work hard they will not be fat anymore”
So What would be your answer to simplistically explain bopo to people who has this opinion?

Michelle: People often think that body positivity is for fat people. It isn’t. Body positivity isn’t solely about weight.
My page is a body positive page and for the most part we discuss scars. People who use those terms believe that being fat is a problem that needs to be fixed and therefore imply that you are a person requires fixing. This is so abhorrently wrong. We need to unravel the associations that are so often tied to being fat. Fat does not mean lazy, fat simply means fat. I personally also laugh at the people who think that by shaming me they are helping me improve my health. How about my mental health? It is counter-intuitive and in my case, deeply ironic because my weight gain only started after I was hospitalised for 3 months for reasons completely unrelated to my health.

Bertha: Is it only body images that we are trying to do justice for, when it comes to body positivity?

Michelle: No, body positivity is for everyone, fat, skinny, tall or short. Body positivity isn’t just for different sizes but completely different bodies, skin tones and abilities as well.

Bertha: Do you reference weight with the BMI chart at all? Why? Do you agree or not agree that people falls into the morbidly obese category shouldn’t worry about their health because of fat positivity?

No I don’t. I actually believe this is where eating disorders stem from. According to my BMI, I am morbidly obese, I have been categorised that way since I was 12 years old. What I didn’t realise when I was 12 years old is that I am and have always been very muscular and only when those scales that show you your muscle mass came out, did I discover this. More importantly, I have metal, plastic, and scar tissue in my body from 15 surgeries – a BMI scale cannot ever account for that yet doctors would warn me about my weight, without understanding my full medical history. These doctors were relying on a tool and being completely blinded by it because right in front of them was a 12 year old girl who wore UK size 12. I was a perfectly healthy size but was told I needed to lose weight because of a warped tool that didn’t take into account the individual.

Bertha: We don’t generally see people that are morbidly obese in Asian, due to our lifestyle in general and the confine space there is living in the city. Do you think that the Asian body shaming culture is preventing us to become morbidly obese? do we find any good in bad at all?

Michelle: I agree that we don’t generally see morbidly obese people in China but just because they aren’t being seen, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I believe the disparity is due to the differences in our diets, americans tend to have larger portion sizes than both British and asian people. I do not think this connection has anything to do with body shaming because I have never met an individual who has lost weight long term due to body shaming. People do not lose weight because of shame, they lose weight because of their own personal choice.

Bertha: How do you see fat acceptance and fat positivity different than bopo and body acceptance?

Michelle: Body positivity was born out of the fat acceptance movement but over the years we have seen body positivity being used as a platform to propel companies and convey the perception that their company is in touch with younger generations. I believe they are the same movement with the same cause. Most people would disagree because most people who are “using” the body positivity movement include caveats about health. They will say phrases like “You can be whatever size you like, as long as you are healthy”. It is important to me that this doesn’t happen because these phrases imply that you need to be healthy in order to be worthy as a human being. As a person who has suffered with her health, I do not believe I am any less worthy if I am healthy and if I am not. How the word healthy is being used by those people implies that it is a choice… My 15 surgeries prove otherwise.

If you would like to learn more about body positivity, check out the related post below!

#curvesinasia #bodytalk

xB

Hong Kong First Body Positivity talk at RTHK Radio 3

Hi Everyone!

It’s been a while since I have written a post! So, I’d like to give you an update on what I have been doing in the past few months; apart from a well deserved holiday in Italy (<– check out my photos on Instagram!)

I have also done a couple of interviews on the media about Curvasian and also the Curves In Asia project, which you can see at the PRESS page on my blog.

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In August, I was invited to the 123 show with Noreen Mir at RTHK Radio 3 in Hong Kong, to talk about my own experience and how I came to being a voice for body positivity in Asia; I had a pleasant time chatting with her during the interview, which leads to a very exciting opportunity for me in this coming 2 months 🙂

I am happy to tell y’all that I have landed a radio show co-hosting with Noreen for a series of Body positivity talk!

There will be 6 episodes in this series, and on each one, Noreen and I will have a chat with a special guest about body images, girl power and how the guest life journey leads them to their own career choices. I will announce each guest’s name with a post in the beginning of the week so check this space!

I am also very happy to announce here, the first guest of this series is Michelle Elman,
the campaign founder of #scarrednotscared.
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I met Michelle on Instagram a year ago, and we have been trying to raise awareness for Asia in the body positive community . Among us, bullying exists in a different scale, sometimes even harsher than in the west due to the obscure standards in the Asian society.

Here is a little background about Michelle.

“Scarred Not Scared was born out of Michelle’s desire to start a conversation around surgery scars and the side effects operations can have on a person’s life. It was a personal mission for Michelle and she has undergone 15 surgeries herself. By the age of 20, she had had a brain tumour, a punctured intestine, an obstructed bowel, a cyst in her brain and a condition called Hydrocephalus. Since showing her scars in a bikini and sharing her story, she has been praised as a body confidence role model, having been chosen as one of the top body positive moments of 2015 by Cosmopolitan.”

The 1st episode will be on air at the following schedule, so stay tune to listen to us talking about body positivity, see you there <3.  

Date: 14th Oct, 2016

Time: 1pm – 3pm

On RTHK radio Three – The 123 show

On RTHK 3 website

On Radio (if you are in Hong Kong)

FM106.8, AM567 /AM1584 (HK South)/ FM107.8 (Tseung Kwan O, Tin Shui Wai)/FM97.9 (Happy Valley, Jardine’s lookout, Parkview corner)

Love,

Bertha

 

My Body Positive experience at Tedx Lingnan University – Bold

This year in March, one of the most amazing experiences in my life happened –  I did a TED Talk about body positivity. I have spread the message to a crowd of 200 people, it was terrifying but at the end all worth it.

All these years of being a body positive advocates, sharing the message, trying to be an example of what it means to live happily no matter what size you are, has lead me to this opportunity and I am forever grateful of it.

It was my first public speech and I was really nervous, so I have unconsciously shorten the speech from 15 mins to 9. Once the talk is over, the tremendous relief I had was unspeakable. When the crowd cheered and claps I felt like I have done the right thing and I couldn’t help but burst out in tears again.

Three months later, I watch it for the first time, I cringed and stop 3 minutes in. By just looking at my face, I remembered how I have prepared for my speech, rewrite and rewrite into the wee hours in the morning, to the last night before the big day, then practice nonstop for the next 12 hours on it. Tears keep coming down my cheek as I was practicing, I was so afraid that the quality of this piece is not good enough and I was worried sick, hence my puffy eyes in the video 🙂

The last moment before I got on stage, I told myself it’s too late to go back, the only thing I want to do right that moment is to convey my message, to tell young people to love themselves. I put on a brave face and tried to joke around a bit ( which failed) but here I am.

I cannot express how grateful I am today being able to participate at such an inspirational event, there were 14 speakers including myself. I took away something great from each of the speakers. Not only that their speech moves me, but hearing them speak about their own experience on trying to do what they love, is truly inspiring. We are all working hard trying to achieve something worth fighting for, it’s our hopes, dreams and our own belief, all trying to make the world a better place to live for mankind 🙂 All the speakers are truly inspiring, so I really recommend anyone to start going online and watch as many TED video as possible. You will gain new knowledge, be inspired and know that you are not alone fighting for a better future for our next generation.

Being bold is being somebody doing things that is outside of the box, to me, that’s doing things that is different and out of your comfort zone, I guess putting myself out there constantly to talk about body positivity, size acceptance and in general living in Hong Kong as a plus size woman earned me a spot, because not many are talking about it, and to raise awareness on the subject, to stop body shaming which is toxic and damaging to anyone, is what I will keep doing. Again I am really grateful for the opportunities the media has given to me.

Special thanks to all my fellow body positive warriors, without you girls, I couldn’t have done this (credits from clockwise)!

Singapore –  Aarti Olivia Dubey of Curves become her, curator of #effyourbeautystandard curator of Asia

Philippines – Danah and Anastazcia Gutierrez of Plump Magazine #Iamflawsome

England – Michele Elman of the #Scarrednotscared movement @Mindsetforlife

Singapore – Kaylene online and Priscilla Boh #Iam campaign

Last but not least, the woman who changed my life – Canada – Honorine of Honorcurves, the founder of #honormycurves movement, she was the first person to give me courage and change my perspective on self love. I love you girl!

SPECIAL Special thanks to Marc Lebane, producer of TEDxLingnanUniveristy, who taught me many things so I could complete my first TED talk, also for giving me the opportunity to have a TED talk.

Tariq Sh, whom helped me tremendously on editing of my speech and practice with me, you are awesome.

My world was made better all by myself 世界因為自己而變得豐富

I studied in the local school when I was young, from primary to secondary (I am a high school drop out!).

When I was in high school, 5’4 at 180lbs, most of my school friends and mates always make fun of my weight and make it the “subject daily”, just like any high school i guess. Although I wasn’t happy about it, somehow I don’t mind that much thinking, well they are speaking the truth, I am fat!

I have always been single and think it must be because I am fat and no other reasons. ( living in HK you have to be a size 4 to not be called fat) I know I am not ugly and I am a fun-loving girl with many guy friends. However, I have never had a proper childhood or teenage life where at least there will be some teenage romance for me. The closest thing would be being approached by pervy old men in the street!:S

After all these years of feeling unattractive and being proven by having no one to date or love, it’s easy to feel that I am not worthy, and since, I have developed very low self esteem, and at some point, I have become a tomboy to protect my own feelings.

Around 20 something, I have met someone online in a chatroom, I have never met him before but we have been talking everyday for a couple of years (yes, 2 years, this is obviously not a tinder era) before we finally met. I was worried sick that he will turn his back on me when he found out how big I am in person. Just thinking about the opportunity to finally have a love life with someone I really click with and love, I couldn’t control my thoughts about wanting to be thin, I thought not eating will give me what I wanted and to change the reality for me.

And if I start doing exercise and not eating at the same time, perhaps it would work! I have 3 months before I get to see him, and that is when I started to control my diet, not eating properly.

Maybe it’s in the name of love, or maybe it’s just all the issues that have been built up for years, at one point, I was only having 80 calories per day and for months, I have felt like I can’t even walk because I have no energy.

It’s funny because I started to have guys coming over to approach me since I have slimed down around 30lbs (14kg), yet I am still a fat girl in many people’s eyes, and no matter what torment I was putting myself through in my head, I still hear guys telling me “if you lose some weight, I will date you”.

Eventually, my immune system got too weak and I was having an inflammation in my body that won’t go away. I was put into the hospital. My family had no idea what was going on and I lied about it. They thought I just had an inflammation and never really asked how.

During the time in hospital, I asked myself, why would I do something like that to myself? Love ≠ EVERYTHING in life! If I am single, does it means I am not worthy? on the other hand, if I have a partner, does that make my life complete and all problems will be going away?

I realise I have to love myself more, be more positive and take care of myself. Since then I started travelling a lot more, study again and focus on my career and knowledge. Now, at age 30 something, I am still a fat girl, but I am happy that I have found happiness in myself. My world was made better by myself, not anyone else.

TL;DR

Love yourself, improve and learn; have some moderate exercise and create a healthy eating habit because taking care of your health is being a responsible adult.

Most of all, please don’t compare yourself with others and just do your best.

You can also be a happy person.

我從小學到中學都係喺本地學校讀書,係中學嘅時候,五呎四,180幾磅,學校啲同學都會成日明示暗示笑我肥,用嚟做話題。雖然有唔開心,但其實我都唔係幾介意(因為係事實)。

所以單身多年, 一直覺得係因為自己肥,冇諗過有冇其他原因。仲成日自問其實唔係醜樣同埋性格爽朗,鍾意玩,好多男仔朋友,但係點解就從來就無人追(鹹濕亞伯非禮就大把)。多年長期係咁,影響到個人冇冇晒自信心,自卑同埋變成好似個男仔頭去保護自己。

20幾歲,識咗個男仔,第一次有機會談戀愛,當時有段時間試過唔食嘢同埋狂做運動減肥,瘦咗30磅,我以為就咁我嘅世界會變好,會完全唔同,所以慢慢變成有厭食症。
雖然嗰陣時有比較正常啲嘅身形,但係喺好多人嘅眼中仍然都係覺得我好肥,呢個階段有好幾個男仔同我講"你瘦啲我會最追你"。
心諗點解雖然減咗30磅,但係都仲咁唔開心, 仲搞到有埋病?其實根本思想同精神都有D問題, 之後仲入埋醫院。

我係醫院期間, 醒覺到一個人唔可以淨係掛住拍拖同埋想有男朋友就乜都唔理,愛情≠一切,呢個世界有大把其他啲野可以做嘅,唔通我冇男朋友就等於我冇用?咁係咪有男朋友就等於好好,等於冇其他煩惱?不如搞掂自己先講啦。喺呢個時候, 我振作起來,開始個人冇咁負面消極,仲周圍去旅行,開始讀番書同埋積極咁向我嘅事業進發,到咗今日30幾歲,仍然都係肥妹一名,但係咁多年來我學到好多唔同嘅嘢,發掘到唔同嘅興趣,我嘅世界因為自己而變得豐富。我仲將我咁多年來學到點樣着衫知識擺上網俾D同我差唔多嘅女仔睇添。

今次係我第一次用中文寫關於自己嘅事,希望你哋睇到,同時會察覺到自己唔係咁差,你地有大把世界等着你地去探索㗎,加油。

仲有,有時緣份可能唔係咁早嚟,但係當你準備好自己嘅時候,呢啲嘢自然就會自己嚟搵你㗎啦。

將自己做好D,飲食健康,適量運動,肥啲都唔係問題,只要唔好同人地比較,唔好討論別人,你都可以做到一個好開心嘅人。