Living in a Small Thin World

So here it goes… my first post on Medium.

Hi. My name is Orie and i’m fat. (small voices in the background *Hi, Orie*) Well, normally the second part of my greetings doesn’t need to be announced at all. You can just notice it right away. Some respond by giving a non-judgemental but judging look. While some comments right away without any regards of whether I ask for their high-valued opinions, or in their defence, a way to break the ice. On rare occasions, people instantly love my amazing smile, and my warm personality. And there are some who gave me the pity look… then I take a look at their shoes and feel bad for them.

This blog isn’t some pity party or some fluf-piece that I wrote to make me feel good about my self. This is about me, taking the Alice journey, through the looking glass. It’s about the battle of perception and how in the end, the winners are those who doesn’t give a crap.

I would imagine that back in the pre-historic times, when men are living in caves, they don’t care so much about appearance. They’ve got bigger fish to fry, litteraly. Their thing was survival: where to sleep, what to eat, how to mate. Who cares about how someone’s hair looks like, as long as they bring the woods for the fire to keep them warm at night. No one cares about what they wear when they’re hunting for boars. Things are simpler.

In Indonesia, we were raised in a very tight community. We are the sons and daughters of our parents, our maids, our neighbours and our extended families. Sometimes the education of right and wrong are based on a simple “What will the neighbours say?” We are used to conforming our behaviour based on the social norms of the society. And in schools, they teach us that we are all social beings. Thus, I was raised to be a really nice woman… just peachy.

I am a fantastic woman. I was the honorary student in my campus. I started working at a very young age, right during the first semester. I found my passion as a writer, and I pursuit a career as a journalist for years. I was a daughter my parents could be proud of, an active member of the society and a respectable journalist.

But life never prepared me for the day when my body became my downfall. It is beyond my comprehension how someone who couldn’t even score a job after graduating, thinks she’s superior because i’m fat. How someone from my neighbourhood who doesn’t even finish college (cos she’s busy with boys) is considered ‘better’ because some rich guy bought a car for her, while I actually pays for mine. At the age of 30, I was the managing director of a company. But I was not successful, you see, for I am not married with kids, and i’m fat.

Today, I read an article in Medium by Ali Mese. He stated, “You are no more than a few seconds of attention other people give to a Facebook status. In 2014, no one has time to care about others in such a crowded, noisy world.” It kinda make sense to me. Back in the cave men time, people care about survival. The leader is the one who can bring more food, or is the strongest, fastest and many more. As time went on and technology became our Fairy God Mother, we have all of our needs taken cared of. Food is easy to get, housing, health, recreational needs… all is available. So, people need to find way to feel superior to the other seven billion people on earth. And as Ali said, they just have no time to care about others.

In reality, we’re just a big group of judges… Hey, that girl is beautiful; She must be stupid. My boss has a weird mole on her face, poor her. We take a look at someone for 5 seconds, and we put a label on their face… whether it’s idiot; ugly; blonde; skinny; geek; bitch; slut; stupid; gay; weak; lame; and fat. In Indonesia, we put certain stereotypes to all the different races we have. Don’t be surprised if the label came in a form of Bataknese, Sundanese, Chinese, Padang, Betawi, and many more. And the sad part is, the thing I’ve come to realize having been a journalist for nine years, if you just take 5 minutes to listen at a person’s story, it could be life-changing.

Last couple of weeks, early September, I helped as a volunteer for TEDxUbud. It’s 400 people in one location for 8 hours. What I notice is, people came there to share ideas… and to listen to great ones. Random people will come up to you and asked, what’s your story? And they actually listen. After a few run-ins, you feel so good about yourself that you start asking other people the same question: What’s your story? And without you realising it, you’re no longer the same person.

For years, I was so defensive about me being fat. Today, I wrote my story. I don’t want you to feel sorry for me, or to say that i’m great. I want you to share your story. In the hope that you’ll take something from this short blog, I will also take something from your story. And together, we will create a new circle of friends sharing their stories. Shall we…

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