Weighing in on the Weight Issue

Three women from body image movement Rock The Naked Truth tell CLEO about their struggles, and how they learnt that #fitspo comes in all shapes and sizes.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Three women from body image movement Rock The Naked Truth tell CLEO about their struggles, and how they learnt that #fitspo comes in all shapes and sizes.

My Reading Room

Roxanne Gan

Weight 51.5kg Height 158cm

“When I’m really stressed or unhappy, I gain weight very easily. It escalated in 2014 when I experienced a setback in my career. There was no sense of satisfaction in my life. I could not sleep at night, and I woke up dreading the day. Also, having people tease me about my weight didn’t make anything better.

The first time I really felt like I needed to do something about my weight was when my clothes didn’t fit anymore. People around me started talking about my weight gain. It hurt my feelings a lot and I just didn’t want to go out. There will be days when we don’t feel good about ourselves. But remember: a bad day only lasts 24 hours. I have been sharing my personal stories and struggles on my Instagram (@roxanne_yoga), and I hope to reach out to people who may be facing the same problems. It helps when there’s a community like Rock The Naked Truth to support them in their journey to self-acceptance.

I haven’t stepped on the scale for a long time because I don’t own one! I prefer to gauge my body according to how I feel, and how my clothes fit.”

I’ve gained a little bit of weight recently because I’ve been focusing on resistance training, but my clothes fit a lot better. At this moment, I feel good. And that’s all that matters.”

My Reading Room

Cheryl Tay, founder of Rock The Naked Truth

Weight 62kg Height 166cm

“My weight didn’t use to bother me. I joined the cross country team when I was in junior college. I was around 60kg then, and my mindset was that as long as I can run fast with this body that I have, then so be it. But then the whole school started getting boyfriends, and I didn’t. So it slowly ate into me. The guys would make fun of me – it wasn’t malicious, but they’d say things like, ‘Were you running your 2.4 just now? I could feel tremors.’

I wanted to lose weight for prom night, so I basically ran 20km every morning. Then I’d run 6km in the evening, and then do two to three hours of kickboxing at night. On top of it all, I starved myself. So I did it for two to three months. The weight fell off really fast, but I was very unhappy. It’s a horrible place to be because you’re never happy with yourself, no matter how much weight you lost. My waist was 21 inches, but I still kept thinking I was fat.

Eventually, I was so stressed out from counting calories and tracking my weight that I just… gave up. I just refused to exercise. The rebound effect was very severe; the weight came back within a month. So I started seeking alternatives. I worked many part-time jobs so I could go to slimming centres, buy slimming creams, and take slimming pills – basically, anything that said ‘weight loss’, ‘shape up’ or ‘slim down’. 

When I first opened up about my struggles publicly, people reached out to me. But instead of telling me they’re glad I’m in a happy place now, some people were, like, ‘how did you lose all that weight? Teach me’. Society has a problem. That’s when the idea of Rock The Naked Truth first came about.

Sometimes, I still get comments on my body. Just the other day, I bumped into someone I haven’t seen in a while, and he said something about how I was skinnier before. Despite the fact that I’m a very active and fit person, somebody can still look at me and say I have a big butt.

But at the same time, while we’re here preaching about self-acceptance… be careful not to use this as an excuse to not care about yourself. Yes, I’m saying that you should love yourself, but that doesn’t mean you can just lie on your couch and not exercise or eat healthily. I know it’s very easy to use this as an excuse, but if you really love yourself, you wouldn’t let your body deteriorate.”

I spent about $20,000 in total on slimming treatments. But none of those worked. I didn’t lose any weight because I wasn’t exercising and I was still binge-eating.”

My Reading Room

Jazzy Tasdelen

Weight 99.5kg Height 162cm

“I never realised I was ‘fat’ until other kids in school told me that I was. On my first day of high school, some of the boys nicknamed me “Fat Fahey” (my maiden name is Fahey-Winter) and the name never went away. I used to cut my arms with a razor, and I tried to kill myself twice because the teasing and bullying got so bad. A very special teacher at my school got me help with a psychologist and that turned my life around.

I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) in 2012, when I first moved to Singapore. I had no idea that anything like that could be wrong with me, as I had been checked for endometriosis (a condition where tissue that normally grows inside the uterus, grows outside of it) and was told that all was fine. Living with PCOS sucks! My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for five years now, and I need to take medications and have hormone treatments that really screw with me, physically and emotionally.

With PCOS, I gain weight very easily and it’s hard to keep it off unless I work out often and eat clean. Combine that with the hormone injections and it can become incredibly overwhelming. I want people to know it happens to more women than they realise, and that there are different symptoms and side effects. Some women can’t gain weight; others can’t lose it. Your hair gets greasy and you can get really bad acne, but the fertility issues are the worst.

Being comfortable with my weight had been a gradual journey. Meeting my husband was the start. He is such a loving, kind, and generous man who loves me for me, just as I am. It made me realise that if someone could love me unconditionally, then I should be able to love myself that way too.

I fell in love with lifting after I got myself an incredible personal trainer. I workout with him five times a week and work with a nutritionist on my diet. Still, I get horrible looks from people and I know what they’re thinking and it still hurts.

If you’ve ever cried over your weight before, remember: you’re not alone! The biggest and hardest thing I’ve learnt on this journey is that everyone has weight issues – even boys! I used to look at the “skinny” pretty girls and compare myself to them, and it’s not right or healthy. Focus on being fit and healthy. Focus on being a good partner/wife/daughter. Focus on changing the world, not your weight. It doesn’t define who you are.” 

"My weight doesn’t define me, my actions do. My weight doesn’t determine how attractive I am, my personality and how I treat others do. My weight is a part of me, but it isn’t who I am.”

Still-life Photography Nyen Text Compiled By Sophie Hong.