I professed to myself in my 20th year, “I am short of nothing!”
As long as I can remember I’ve always been the shortest of my friends, the shortest one in the group and my height was always a conversation starter. I’m from a small family where we’re all smaller and younger looking. We’re mixed. Biracial. So we never felt like we fully fit in – being Black and Chinese. Our skin tone and features not fitting the Black community and our hair and dialect not fitting the Chinese groups in the country either. And being shorter than the rest made it destiny to stand out.
When you’re younger it’s cute. I was the shortest and smallest in my short, small family. I’m always at the front, people point you out and call you adorable; they’re nice and they’re protective. You feel a safe space among your friends when you’re little and in general you don’t think about your size too much because well, you’re little! You’re supposed to be little and you have no worries, preoccupied with pure daydreams about growing up and desires to play around all the time.
But a pivotal moment happened while I was enjoying being little. My grand aunt teased me about my hair. Ofcourse, being biracial, my hair wasn’t straight – it had kinks and it was cool. For a time I loved my dynamic hair. I was the littlest one in my family with the most unique hair. It was great until I didn’t feel like I fit in… I remember my grand aunt making fun of the kinks in my hair. She used a derogatory term and said the back of my hair is the “chiney” (straight), and the front is *“wu gwee” (as it was pronounced). She meant negro. My cousins would be bigger than I would be and their hair was actually straighter than mine. I felt displaced in my small family, I truly felt little. After this I would relax my hair and damage my cool kinks that made me unique. To this day I am still trying to stay natural.
The older you get the more insecurities are added with age and time. At first it was my height and hair but then my pre-teen to teen years would be all about my weight and not just height but *size in general. In high school I didn’t get that much taller like my friends. Again, I was the shortest of the group and the smallest in cup size or whatever size considered – shoe size, dress size, jeans size, etc. Size became a thing in high school.
My height was always being pointed out to me by persons in my year group and in higher grades. Hell, even the teachers would comment… It was of course annoying and I got used to it: people always using it as a conversation starter, and guys who were immature at those stages bringing it up to tease me because they liked me… it was very confusing. Then I started dating in high school and for some reason I grew this fear of whoever I was with at the time having a younger sibling who was taller than me. I had to accept that their sibling might be taller than I am. That my height would come up again, and reassure myself they won’t just see your height they’ll see you for you.
My insecurities and obsession with size, to look older all the time because I always looked younger than my age, led me to have an eating disorder and although I was already very small I had lost a couple pounds from just eating canned fishy foods like tuna and salmon. I became very sick and it reflected in my body and I started breaking out. I wanted to be the perfect size – I didn’t want to lose too much I just wanted to look “slim thick”. I wanted to look like the hot girlfriend who may be smaller than your younger sibling but “had a great body”.
I still have a fear of being smaller or as small as my boyfriend’s younger siblings but I’ve “grown” to accept myself for being who I am. There are times when I compare myself to people online and others I know – how much taller they are, how their bodies look fully developed although they’re much younger than me, how they look older than me and some girls below my year have grown into their shapes like something is in their food, and I’m left out and need that secret ingredient to fill out… I admit that does come to mind lots of times. And the urges to work out and do squats to make up for my size and younger looking features come up from time to time.
At 20 years old I was done comparing myself. I started my journey of real self-love and acceptance. I quieted my belittling thoughts whenever they came up. It wasn’t just people around me or what they said that made me insecure, I shrunk myself too.
My mindset today has leveled up and I stand out not because I’m short or because of my size but because they can’t believe how short I am and how big my confidence is. I am short of nothing. I already have all I need
and all I am and will ever be is my choice. That is my power.