You know how when one grows up, they lose all their baby fat and starts looking like a twig plucked from a branch from the tree of stereotypes out there? Let's not touch about those hung-only-by-the-crotch-and-ass baggy pants and the three-striped sneakers just yet. But you do know that once puberty begins (especially for boys) they start shedding off all their chubby cheeks, extra tyres and those flabs under the arms and starts to gain the oh-so-desired slim look with protruding cheek bones and the ultimate six packs and probably a couple of toned biceps? Gee... I wished I went through my puberty like that too. Nah! My puberty consisted of a lot of eating and non-stop growing - unhealthy habits, I know, but I was never afraid of food, in general, and neither mom nor dad (or anyone else for that matter) ever came in between my and me.
Of course, there's always the disgusted look when my excess baggage is obvious and there's always the so called "advices" from so called "people who cared". In fact, they just dislike the way my shit sometimes sticks to my body and being fat is my one true obvious weakness that they can pin me down at. I've been putting up with that for about 16 years now and has practically grown numb to the snide remarks about the size of my stomach, legs and hands, by aunts and other people behind my back. It really doesn't offend me now when people tell me I should go do a marathon every day. However, I still get depressed at times, about my over-sized stomach and occasionally, my BMI results whenever I pass by the men's brief section in a supermarket, seeing all those underwear models on the boxes of Pierre Cardin or Renoma. I mean, I do have times when I feel down and depressed over the size of my body that I just wish I had someone else's body instead of mine and if I could just slice off the extra meat...
Well, I got upset all over again when I saw how good looking and slim Grace's ex-schoolmates' brothers have grown and become into. When Grace comes back to town, she always meets up with her ex-schoolmates. You know, a chat over some coffee to get the latest juices and whereabouts of other people they know. Being the little brother that I am, I'm always tailing her around. But most of the time, her appointment clashes with our shopping time that I'm usually stuck with her, drinking coffee at Starbucks or dropping by at their houses. Grace was one of the few people in her clique who had a younger brother, all about the same age as I am. So when I saw one of the brothers at the mall and the other at his home, I got worked up about my looks again. I've met these guys before, probably more than a couple of times and have witnessed the change in their looks every time we saw each other (every time our sisters met). We never talk to each other, though. Funny.
"How come your friends' brothers are all grown up and they look good at their age but not me? I'm still fat and still waiting desperately for my baby fat to shed, if it's still even considered baby fat!" I went on ahead and ask Grace in frustration. "Those aren't baby fat anymore, I tell you. Trust me, you are way past that time!" she said, pointing at my tummy, the size of a three month pregnant lady's, before she added, "I don't think that you don't look good anyway." I never expected her answer would be so comforting. It's not the fact that I'm contented with myself that my sister thinks I'm hot (she still doesn't!). It's more to the fact that she doesn't see me being fat as ugly. We have always joked about my fat, but never did she once taunt me for being the way that I am and never did she once, was ashamed of me. Same goes to the rest of the family, I guess. Grace took the liberty and shared my frustration with mom and dad later in the car.
Grace: Mom, Matt asked me how come why he still looks so fat and ugly when the rest of my friends' brothers have already started developing their six packs. I told him that he's crazy for thinking so and that I don't think he's ugly.
Mom: Of course lah! You already look good the way you are. I seriously don't think you're fat. Maybe a little over-sized for your age?
Dad: Haiya, how can you think like that? It's not the exterior that matters. It's what's in you. You have special gifts from God and talents mah and those are the things that you should really worry on.
Mom: That's right! You're gifted with such a jovial heart and cheerful smile - especially when we try our hands on new cuisines - that you make everyone around you happy and light hearted. Not to mention that sweet mouth of yours.
Dad: Such low confidence!
Mom: If you grow any thinner, I might have to spend all my dime to renew your wardrobe lo!
Grace: You wouldn't be Matt then!
I was stunned by the response the family gave me. Serious! We've never actually discussed about how I feel about myself and I guess, this time, my low self-esteem showed when I feel pressured that the family went on a raving rampage to make me feel better about myself. And you know what? I did feel great after the short pep-talk by the people who really cared. In fact, I felt loved and appreciated for the person I was inside of me - not the person I am outside. I've never felt such a rush of anxiety before that I turned red after their every sentence. No words can described how I felt at that moment. That was really true love from the family - unconditional as it came! There were other things that they said that I couldn't much remember now above all those excitement. Of course, you can also say that parents always sees the best in their own child when it comes to this, but I doubt that. I could feel that they meant they're words. Really strong.
Still, it doesn't mean that mom and dad don't give any thoughts about what I put in through my mouth and my weight. Mom and dad are always there to stop me from going overboard (not that I depend on them on this). They have always thought I'd look a tad bit better if I could transform my protruding belly into something less, well, protruding. Apart from that, they have always taken account of my health too. They aren't strict at all on this. Just the occasional whisper in the ears of the dangers of high cholesterol and diabetes, which, thankfully, I have none. And I'm certainly not a greedy fat little pig with chocolate stains all over my mouth and cheeks with both hands balancing a turkey sandwich the height of my own body in front of a table full of macaroni and cheese, a whole turkey, mashed potatoes and the likes, chewing loudly! Certainly am not!
I have learned how to love myself and my body but I still think there's room for improvement. Likewise, my family members. No matter, it is nice to know that my family loves me for the inner me and my gifts at a time so near to Christmas. After all, not everyone out there are like my little cousins (Edmund especially) who have the luxury of someone to bounce on when I lay on my back, or to rub their faces on my cushion! It's also hard for the adults to resist rubbing their hands on my excess baggage like I was the Laughing Buddha. Hugging me has also become a comfort! Sometimes I think to myself, what would life be if I was all bones ans skin? I'll definitely won't have anyone who wish they could lay their heads on my wobbly lap or tummy! Till today, I still can't find my answer. It's scary to even imagine! Either way, as I always tell myself and Grace, there's always liposuction and plastic surgery to turn to. In the mean time, I'm putting all diet programs on hold.
Pass me that turkey breast and salad please, anyone? Oh, and the gravy too, please!