What my body means to me: it is the one changing constant I have had in my life.
It started off small, and a wee bit hairy, when I grew up in Singapore. I was bullied for being hairier than the average East-Asian classmate I had. I started waxing my legs at the age of 8. I developed hips before Kim Kardashian made them cool, and the bullying became sexualized really quickly. So first, I was too manly at 8, and then too womanly at 12. All while the school kids bullied me, home was no better. Traditional Indian meals center around a carb, a lentil soup and a veggie preparation. At 8, I was told that my body could not handle any carbs (Roti or Rice) and I was put on a veggies and lentil soup diet (that would last years as I came to learn later).
Moving to the US changed the game for me, where people came in all shapes, sizes and colors. I was free to wear what I wanted to school, and there was no punishment for standing out, instead you were rewarded. At the age of 13, the nerd inside me wanted to write a science fiction novel about friendly aliens. And I did, and not only did it get published as a book, but the newspaper, all my neighbors and classmates, all were beaming proud of me. The girl who was scared to look up when walking down a street just started speaking on stage.
Moving into high school, I began speech and debate, and formulating my thoughts in an adult manner. I managed to make such good arguments that sometimes, my parents’ rules seemed silly. I started to live for myself and by my own rules, under the roof of South Asian Parents. And to them, that was pure defiance. At 18, right before I went to college, my parents sent me to a therapist, a nice Caucasian woman, because they felt I was “acting out unreasonably”. Funnily, the therapist and I agreed: times had moved on and my parents were the unreasonable ones. But no two people were 100% alike, my therapist wanted me to cut off my parents, but we don’t do that as Asians. We silently take the toxic environment and hope that we will do better as parents someday.
I was assaulted right before I turned 19, and all those feelings of being oversexualized, used, bullied, came back from 6 years prior. So much so, that I spent a good 1-2 years accepting a hypersexualized view of myself to heal from the trauma. Love was the only thing that snapped me back from the trauma. Almost at 22, for the first time, I realized that my body had survived SO much. And I realized all the internalized body dysmorphia that had been coming from my own family (whom I inherited my body type from). At 22, I decided that my body had not been properly loved and appreciated in a long time, and that this was the time. No more 600 calorie diets (yes, my mother would count and restrict it every time I came home from college as well), no more obsessing over the size jeans I was wearing.
Above photo: Adya looking stunning in her maroon floral dress. We love it!
Chemistry is a weird thing. Having had no regular carb intake from 8 to 18, my body began to balloon, but I was happy. Every time I see family, they assume that I must be going through “a rough patch” because they assumed the Size 0 Adya was the original, but that was a curated and dieted body they saw for 18 years. This is the natural state and it is here to stay, size 10 or 16 or 6. Rewarding and loving my body wasn’t just about food, it slowly became about sexuality as I entered my adolescence. At 22, I ordered my first silk lace gown, and slowly my lingerie collection started growing. I wore it for nobody besides myself, and that was more than enough. Forget skincare, but this was my first form of self-love that nobody even knew about, it was literally just for me.
Today, I do not obsess over what the weighing scale tells me, or what the jeans size is. I do not hypersexualize myself into a role that is not mine. I do not let my trauma define who I am and that is what led me to become TheDesiCareerWoman. I was tired of seeing all influencers, even South Asian ones, be beauty/ clothing and aesthetics focused. My body houses my most valuable asset, my brain, and my outlook is here to be shared with the world.
Today, I thank Instagram for giving me a platform, but I have to thank my body for bringing me so far in life.