Monday, March 10, 2008

Wasting Away

By: Chung Tran

I wanted to write something about me, so here it is. It’s something that many teenagers may go through and need help with.

Eating disorders affect many young teenagers and the victims keep getting younger still. I’ve personally seen in the media and in real life how many of us have not been able to accept the way we were are or how we look. And although I do not have statistics to show what percentage of the teenage population suffer from eating disorders, I’m sure that you’ve come across some of them throughout your life. My story is about one of the small percentages of males that are afflicted with this condition.

As long as I can remember, my mother has been telling me that we didn’t have much money to buy things. As a kid, I remember seeing all those starving African kids on TV in the early eighties, and that didn’t help. Something clicked inside me, and I was afraid I’d end up like those starving African kids. I ate and ate constantly so that I wouldn’t end up as they did. I thought as a young kid I would go through the same thing. So for me, I was a pretty small kid who always ate a lot.

Back when I was in primary school, my parents would only give me a couple of dollars to buy lunch. It wasn’t as if we were poor, but that is what they thought I needed each day. You can probably imagine, school canteen food is not all that nutritious, and only recently has it become an important issue for parents to give healthy pre-packed lunches for their kids.

When I wanted something like my first Atari 2600 gaming system, I actually went without lunch for a while, which is just as bad as a hunger strike. As you know, kids use up a lot of energy and I would go without lunch occasionally so I could save my money to buy this gaming system. At this time, I didn’t know anything about eating disorders. I was just a tall, skinny Asian kid skipping lunch.

When I started high school, things started to change. To be cool in high school, you had to look a certain way, and I figure that’s when my obsession started. I started to have this healthy eating thing in my mind, where I would not eat junk food or a lot of food at one time. I didn’t want to become a fat kid.

Well, I didn’t know anything much about healthy eating, and my health suffered as I lost more weight. I was getting thinner and thinner. I wasn’t an athletic guy or your sporty type, but from the years of not eating correctly, I became a skinny guy with no energy.

My own healthy outlook continued throughout high school, as I tried to eat three to four times a day at set times and not when I was hungry. I suffered from some of my bad eating habits and now I’ve scared myself. I now have these ugly stretch marks on my skin. Normally women get it after pregnancy and it occurs when the skin stretches and the contracts too fast or when you gain and lose weight in short period of time.

A friend of my girlfriend even mentioned to me once that she wished that she could have a waist like mine, but it wasn’t as if she was any bigger than me. My girlfriend weighed even more than I did at one time I think.

It didn’t help being at home and my brother would often call me fat, even though I wasn’t for someone of my height and weight. My mother would always be the one who was saying that I was either too skinny or that I was getting fatter. The only thing she can say to me now is that I don’t have an ass anymore because I’m losing weight again. It doesn’t help when your family judges you on the way you look.

It was pretty late when I knew I had to do something about my weight. I was continuously being told that I had looked as though I had lost a lot of weight and that I was so skinny. Maybe because of the fact that I was at work so much, and that I wasn’t even able to sit down for a break after working five to six hours non-stop and picking at junk food. I also lacked a lot of sleep and this contributed to my poor health.

I gave up my unconventional diet of three to four meals a day and I started to graze. I ate when I wanted to and when I was hungry. I can now say that I’m not too fat and not too skinny. I feel better about the way I look and the way I feel about myself. I don’t care about what anyone says anymore, but I do value honest feedback.

I find that there are too many negative images in the media today portraying images of thin and skinny women, or in my case, a guy with muscles and a six-pack. Sometimes I would even boycott products or services if I find them offensive or if they may have some negative impact on their target markets.

I believe that we should not be forced to see images of skinny women in bikinis promoting a product or service that has nothing to do with what they are selling… though there is nothing wrong with half-naked women jumping at a guy with some sort of expensive aftershave on.

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