Image: Instagram @Thongria.
Although I was a very health-conscious and athletic teenager, with no regular exercise or parent observing my eating habits, I had a hard time adjusting to adulthood in New York City. After four years of living on my own, I had gained 18 kilograms, putting me at 77. Standing at five feet and eight inches, I was officially above the healthy weight range for my height (though the BMI measurement does have its problems).
In my opinion, I carried my weight quite well, but I was used to mean comments about my size nonetheless. It was an easy, go-to insult, especially for ex-boyfriends with sour feelings.
When I was 20, I ran into my high school ex at a house party, and during a conversation lull in front of a group of my peers, he asked, “Zoe, what happened to you? You look like you’ve put on 20 kilos.” His thinner-than-me girlfriend looked at him with total surprise and disgust, and the other party attendees encouraged me to hit him. Instead, I left crying.
That same year, a previous hookup partner told me I could “be the hottest girl in Brooklyn” if I lost weight. People continuously mistook me for a pregnant woman. Another ex-boyfriend took to the internet, after I ended our relationship, to detail how repulsed he was by the cellulite on my thighs. It never ended.
Last summer, a man I was dating finally blurted out that he found me attractive, but would be more attracted to me if I lost weight. I was at a loss for words. I had never self-identified as fat, but it was becoming impossible to ignore the hurtful comments, and now they were coming from a current partner, not just a vengeful ex.
I wondered how many other people thought the exact same thoughts, but were too scared to say something. Even though I appreciated the honesty of my then-boyfriend, I couldn’t look past how insensitively he had voiced his concern for my weight, and so I ended the relationship.
I hit a breaking point. For the first time in my life, I was actually determined to lose weight, although admittedly, initially, it was for the sake of vanity and showing those exes what was up. It wasn’t until I had begun to revamp my diet that I realized how irresponsible I had been with food.
As I began to eat a healthier diet, portioning my food appropriately and reflecting on my prior eating habits, I recalled many instances of binge-eating — I just hadn't known I was binge-eating at the time. I would eat and eat, way past the feeling of fullness and almost to the point of sickness… but I enjoyed it.
It was an emotional and physical comfort to feel full; it sedated me almost like a Xanax. It wasn’t unusual for me to make an entire box of pasta and scarf it down as a midnight snack, even if I wasn’t hungry.
After about four months of healthy diet and exercise, I’d lost seven kilos, and I celebrated this milestone with a Facebook post announcing my determination — not to lose weight, but to become the fittest, healthiest version of myself.
A healthy weight range for my height is said to be between 57 kilos and 69 kilos, depending on body frame, and my weight finally fell within that bracket. Soon after my body-positive FB posting, a close male friend of mine joked that I looked great, and that he’d sleep with me if I lost yet another seven kilos.