*I recorded myself reading this post if you would rather listen to my marvellous voice.
We interrupt your daily pandemic life with some Andreea-related stories. No, this isn’t a pandemic revelation, rather an “I’m unemployed seeking to delve inside my soul and discover who I am before I jump into another job/city/life and distance myself from my essence even more” type of situation.
Some of you may already know that 2019 was a difficult year for me. From the loss of my grandparents to the loss of people that have hurt me and that I felt brought rivers of toxicity in an already shadowy forest that my mind is, I lost a lot. On the other hand, I gained knowledge, life experience, wisdom, the ability to make better choices, etc. As unfortunate as I was to feel anger and pain, I found comfort and soothing remedies in some other beautiful people who were bright and kind enough to take some of my pain and replace it with love and acceptance. After much stress and difficulty, and many lessons learned, I needed to leave Barcelona behind for a while, to reassess my thoughts, plan better, and be happier upon my (if) return.
What does one do when one is unemployed, in a town with no friends (other than a beloved partner) and living with parents again? One reflects. Getting deep into “who you are”, trying to “detach oneself from thoughts”, “enjoy the present”, and everything else that comes with a mid-20’s crisis can be quite tiring. Who knew doing nothing, being purposeless, and lacking social interaction could be so mentally draining?
People hurting you can be a pain in the ass but realising how you’ve been hurting yourself can be even more stressful and disappointing. In my travels to the depths of Andreea land, there comes an awful conclusion: I perceived my body as my enemy for a long time and now it’s fighting back.
I was a chubby child. The time I spent in primary and secondary school was surrounded with encouragement to accept everyone and look at others through a non-judgemental lens (at least that’s how it went with my generation). However, that didn’t keep away the kids around the block and the constant bullies calling me names; it also made me feel uneasy when some kids would play with me as I had internalised a feeling that every time they looked at me they were disgusted by my body.
My parents have always been supportive. They encouraged me to do sports. I always refused. Not because I was lazy, rather I didn’t want to be seen. Fat bodies were (and mostly still are) viewed with disgust and judgement: “you are lazy, you are not careful, you are not self-loving”. And when someone does try to lose weight for whatever reason, they’d all laugh at the effort, as if no matter how hard you try to be who they tell you in magazines, on TV, and even social media, you will always be a fatty. And so, I was ashamed and fearful of the school gym hours, for example, avoiding to do anything that would cause my classmates to look at me, laugh, judge, boasting in their superiority of having a “thin” body. What I was most ashamed of was the male gaze, as theirs was the harshest. I imagine most young girls felt aware of their male classmates’ gaze regardless of body shape, as we encourage our men to objectify women at a young age; but that’s a discussion for another time.
Men would never like me because of my muffin tops or thick thighs, which in the first few years of high-school I would cover with baggy or black clothes. I didn’t want to be seen. Back then, I also couldn’t find clothes my size in Romania, so would always buy them from abroad (quite a good reflection of how size L+ bodies were excluded from existence in society).
Much of my life revolved around this vicious circle of not caring for my body due to shame and fear, as well as wanting to be invisible because I felt that I occupy too much space with my being or needed to hide my imperfections. Most of my teenage years and even earlier than that, I went for something that I thought gave results by malnourishing myself and putting my body under long periods of starvation: the blessed diet.
Let me clarify that I am not ditching dieting in general, rather the types of diets popular in the first decade of the 21st C, where you would eat poorly for a certain amount of time and then whoooosh back to the pantry of sweets we go once it’s over because hey we gotta reward ourselves after all that hard work! There is much dispute around diets and everyone has the freedom to choose, yet a teenager who’s going through this process several times throughout a year, always obsessing over the results and being disappointed with the poor outcomes, is in a rollercoaster of joy and suffering. Since then, more research came out on nutrition and I came to better understand some facts, especially after becoming a vegetarian. On the topic of “where do I get my protein from” “but you still each cheese no” we’ll discuss another time.
In order to make up for my failure of having a few more kgs than a “normal” person would, I became a smart-ass and looked to outwit most of my peers, often ending up in arrogance or snobbery. The more rejection from others I faced, the more I had to make up for it and the bigger the “try-hard” I became. Funnily enough, I wanted to be smart effortlessly. To be smart, you must do so without failure, because failure makes you a loser, a pariah, society laughing at you while its belly rolls in circles over the snack-filled table. I couldn’t possibly fail, because I was already a failure given my fat body. I couldn’t be beautiful like those other girls and I couldn’t dress up fashionably or have any type of style because the only style was that of the thin body, which not only fatties like me couldn’t try out, but many shapes and bodies in the world. Because we are all different and trying to be the same as some pain-striken image in whatever media is suicide.
Of course, I learned all of this much later. The starting point was university, where I opened my eyes to how the media is all lies and that advertising wants to make you miserable so you could buy more things to fill up that void. How it’s all interconnected, how capitalism fucked me up. Ironic, given that I grew up in a country severely recovering from communism (after 31 years, I can confirm we are still recovering).
Something that consistently helped me gain more self-confidence and empathy was theatre. With it, I was able to leave my coat of invisibility in the backstage in order to be free in front of the dusty curtains of various stages. I loved theatre and still do, even wanted to go and study it at university. That didn’t happen. I’d internalised the idea that actresses need to be beautiful = skinny and maybe blonde; if not at least with bright eyes. Also, actors are poor, because they are artists, and artists are poor, because society is very conflicted when it comes to art as a means to make money. AIN’T ART GONNA SAVE THE WORLD! Get outtaaaa heeeereeeeeeeeeeee… Conclusion: no place for me on stage.
Speaking of university, insecurities surrounding my body would worsen after leaving Romania and moving abroad. Despite being more confident, the leftovers of the voice telling me I should stay invisible because I’m a failure were still whispering. I was used to men rejecting me – the U.K offered me the spotlight. I suddenly wasn’t the fat one anymore! Huraaay this country has a serious weight problem and 90% of the people I know who’ve lived there had gained weight at some point. I wonder why…? Anyway, time to explore all the wonders the male sex has to offer. Make sure to use Tinder to meet a lot of them, because finding self-worth in men’s opinions is the right way to go! Quantity over quality! I’m all about that millennial lifestyle where we hide our feelings and sacrifice our time and energy to please people who don’t even give a shit about us! Wooohooo partyyyy my body IS NOT a temple!!!
And that was me. For about 6 years (with minor interruptions). Luckily, this period ended and I am on the way to self-love and acceptance without having to confirm it with the male gaze. Yet, I spent years of fighting over their attention with my female counterparts, constantly comparing myself to other girls, finding their flaws and putting them on a pedestal, bringing each other down in “cat fights” that live in masculine fantasies. I judged my sex harshly, finding ways in which I was superior to popular or beautiful or simply existing women.
Because that’s what society needs: more women hating on women.
I followed the mentality of “yeah I enjoy spending more time with guys than girls as it’s less drama and men are more easy-going” (I am talking here from a cis heteronormative view). Turns out, boys (not men?) love to swim deep in drama while your girlfriends are there with tea and blankets and wisdom to help heal your wounds. Hell, they’ll even lick your wounds. The female energy is a blessing and the feminine one (which all of us hold in our souls whether we like that or not) a never-ending mystery.
If you managed to get to this point, congratulations. I thank you and send my deepest love to you. By now, you have grasped a sense of my insecurities throughout the years, my fear of failure and expecting myself to do everything perfectly from the first try, my invisibility cloaks (the Harry Potter type), the vicious circle of ignoring physical activity because I could never succeed in the face of society, the self-assurance I looked for in the wrong places, the hate I lived with for the feminine. Some maybe think why the fuck is Andreea sharing all this long deep personal shit with us? Well, I’ve been asked what’s up with my blog and I wanted to share with you some of my transformation. I even started doing more physical activity because I want to be healthy and fix some of the things of my past, rather than focus on “losing weight”. I want to be healthy and happy – if my body changes with the process, whatever shape it may take, it’s just a consequence.
I hope that by seeing how my life has been affected by one grain of hatred that turned into a large field, I would encourage you to reflect upon yourselves as well, and see what comes up. Cause in the end, what better time for deep personal shit other than today?