The One on Body Acceptance

“Do you know Shams?”

“Oh you mean the big, tall and loud girl? Yeah I know her.”

Big, tall and loud – that has become my identifier since I can ever remember. I grew up larger than most of my peers, and even as a child, I was bound to stand out from the rest. I never let it get to my head that the way I looked was more important than the person I am – that is until I hit puberty.

At thirteen, I grew a lot taller all of a sudden. My body developed way too quickly for my mind to adapt to. Boys and peer acceptance started to change the way I looked at myself. I was more conscious of my body, particularly how much I weigh and why I had a bigger built than my friends. I began hating the way I looked and starved my body of the nutrients I needed. For a short period of my adolescence, I kept a secret from everyone I knew – I was bulimic.

For a year, I coped with my parents’ divorce by vomiting out whatever I ate. I would not finish my food and run to the washroom after each meal on the pretext that my teeth hurt from my newly fixed braces. Truth is, I wanted to fit in and look like pretty like my skinny friends in school. I wanted a size 2 figure and long legs that never seem to end. I wanted to look like the models that graced magazine covers. I wanted a 24-inch waist so I could buy that pair of jeans everyone else in school had. I wanted to be everyone else but myself.

It was only when I realized that my bulimia was affecting my canoeing training that I stopped depriving my body of the nutrients and calories I need. I began focusing on my training and working out, supposedly losing weight the healthy way. At fifteen, I was at my fittest and slimmest. Then again, I still had people calling me fat, thick and big behind my back. And I still wasn’t happy.

Then at seventeen, I emotionally ate my way through junior college. I gained back all the weight I lost, with no regrets at all. Life was at a stand still through out the two years because I was just focusing on getting over with the A level exams. It was only when I was due to enter university at nineteen that I realized; I need to start taking care of myself.

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At my biggest in 2009/2010

I began loving my body by loving myself. I started treating my body like a temple (a mosque, if you prefer that analogy) and ate good food that no calories could be wasted on. Jamie Oliver keeps saying that if you want to eat, waste your calories only on good food made out of the freshest ingredients. I frequented the gym and did all sorts of sports activities from rock climbing, to Muay Thai to yoga. I challenged myself to push my physical limits by participating in marathons and scaling mountains. All I wanted to do was to be healthy and feel good.

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Gunung Ledang in 2010

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Conquering Kinabalu in June 2013

The past five years has had its fair share of ups and downs. I have had former partners telling me I was too fat for their liking so they had to leave me. I have had aunts and uncles telling me I did not fit in with the rest of the family because I was too tall and big. I have gotten my heart broken by people I loved because I did not fit the mould they call love.

The truth is, we live in a superficial world. We lust over beautiful images and we yearn for things that are almost impossible for us to achieve. We want to be surrounded by things that are only captivating to the eyes. We want to look like celebrities and wear what they are wearing. We so badly want to be accepted by society.

It took a long time to love myself but I had to. I want to empower women who were facing the same struggles as me. I want to let other women know that they were not fighting this battle themselves. I want them to know that the way they look does not matter, nor does the size of their dress or the number on the scale.

It is their heart that matters.

“Take advantage of five matters before five other matters: your youth, before you become old; and your health, before you fall sick; and your richness, before you become poor; and your free time before you become busy; and your life, before your death.”

Narrated by Ibn Abbas and reported by Al Hakim

Battling with body image issues may be your jihad and the test Allah has given you to heighten your faith in Him. Take that step to improve your health for the His sake so that you can use your time wisely to be a useful member of the ummah.

This goes out to my fellow big and beautiful sisters who may or may not be heartbroken simply because of the way they look:

“A woman is married for four reasons, i.e., her wealth, her family status, her beauty and her piety. So you should marry the pious woman otherwise you will be losers.”

Narrated by Abu Huraira, in Sahih al-Bukhari & Muslim

Beauty is after all, in the eye of the beholder. Love yourself, and love will come to you, inshaAllah.

This article was first published on The Shawl Label’s Sisterhood Project.

A Foodie’s Journey

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This is supposed to be a food blog. This is supposed to be where I share with the internet what baking frenzy I’ve been up to. This is supposed to be where I try recipes from around the world and share it with you guys.

I miss baking, and I miss taking photos of my bakes. Time as a working adult is very precious, especially now that I prioritize gym over baking. I still cook, but mostly to satisfy a hungry stomach.

So here I am, looking back at my old photos realizing that I’ve come a long way in terms of baking and photography. I’ve always wanted to have a blog like Kak Rima or Pick Yin where each page is adorned with beautiful photos of food and awesome recipes. I need to remind myself it doesn’t happen over time. Good things come to those who wait and put in effort. So that is what I shall do.

I’ve pretty much mastered the art of baking cakes and cupcakes. Cakes are easy, really. I still don’t have the guts to make pastries and puddings or hotel-like desserts. Macarons? Don’t even think about it. I’ve tried making them twice and failed miserably. Cookies and Eid treats? Umm.. I don’t have the patience to make them.

As much as there’s still a lot for me to learn, I’m glad I am now able to make a decent frosting which won’t kill me or my friends and family, whip up a simple chantilly cream for basic cakes, made my mum her favorite Black Forest Gateau, make myself my favorite durian cake, and take orders for the ever popular Red Velvet Cupcakes and Salted Caramel Cupcakes.

I think I’m about done with RVCs and Salted Caramel. There needs to be a change in the trend for cupcakes. I need to experiment more. I need to throw myself into the deep end of baking and cooking. What is next, then?

I don’t know when I’ll complete this list, or even find the time to make a few of them, but I am determined to get them done.

  1. Macarons
  2. Eclairs
  3. Tiramisu
  4. Fruit tarts
  5. Nutella Swiss Roll (Izzati you owe me a lesson on this!)
  6. Kek Lapis (it’s about time)
  7. Creme Brulee
  8. Ravioli (I cannot keep going to Badoque for a plate of $17 raviolis)
  9. Fresh pasta (someone get me a pasta machine please)
  10. Rendang (yes, ibu, I think I’m ready for this)

Ten items, Sham. That’s all. Now where do I begin…

Of Love and Engagements

Ever since a close friend of mine introduced me to Style Me Pretty, I’ve been obsessed about party decorating and photographing events the way SMP features them. Last week, I was given the opportunity to photograph Sheriza’s wonderful engagement party. In other words, my dreams of taking SMP-like photos came true! Congratulations to you both! Cannot wait for your big day! 🙂

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Sheriza made this cake herself! And she spent an entire day stamping those letters on the flags. A for effort!

 

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Dreams

I’ve always been fascinated with dreams – both the kinds you get when you’re sleeping, and those you aspire of in the future. Back in 2009, I wrote about a dream I had. I still make it a point to remember the dreams I have just because I have nothing better to do find it intriguing to understand what my subconscious mind is actually thinking about.  

So two days ago, my girlfriend texted me saying she dreamt about me and someone (this someone is of course from my recent past). In her words:

We were on a cruise and the ship broke down. While we were both trying to fix the problem, he came along and offered to help so I excused myself and let you guys do the fixing. 

I was about to get angry at her but then I realised it was just a dream:

So the dream is metaphorically telling me to fix the relationSHIP?

We burst out laughing in the end. I found it amusing that she dreamt it, not me. But I have to bite my own tongue because last night I did have a continuation of that bizarre fixing-the-ship dream. Let’s not get into details, shall we?

For now, I am happy being on my own, living my life as and how I want to (well, unless my my mother disapproves). And yes, crepes make me happy.  

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Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning. 

– Gloria Steinem

A Man of Politics

It’s too early in the morning for a blog update, but I figured I needed to let my frustration out.

When my relationship ended, there were so many questions in my head – mainly why did it have to end. Then I realized it wasn’t him or me that ended it. It was the will of God that saved me from a possibly disastrous relationship. Sure, tears kept rolling down my cheeks and for weeks I kept to myself, holding up strong only when I went out with my friends. Now, my conscious has showed me why it couldn’t work.

We were just too different on so many pages. One of those pages is politics. I’m a student of politics. He shies away from ever talking about politics. Whenever I let out my opinions on Obama, or the local government not doing anything about foreign talent/labour, he would simply curtly smile and nod his head. I could never get an opinion out of him without erupting into a heated argument.

Last night, I watched the US presidential debate between Obama and Romney. I wanted to discuss it so badly with someone, only to resort to twitter and my colleagues for some opinions. The sudden need for an intellectual debate or conversation brought me to realize that I need a man who could tell me what he thinks of a given issue. I cannot be with an Always Yes Man. I need a man who would fight for a cause.

Inasmuch as a man who is pious is luring, I cannot demand a spouse like that when I myself am struggling with my faith. I understand that God has willed for me a man who is compatible and completes me, both emotionally and in my faith. For now, I would be contented with someone who thinks like me, someone who is always a page ahead of me and helping me to catch up.

I won’t go looking for him, but I know he’s out there waiting for the right time to approach me. I need to have patience, and keep myself occupied mentally and physically. I can always rely on Him to keep myself in check emotionally.

Sang Pemimpi: A Sequel to Laskar Pelangi

I used to hate Indonesian films. Yes, hate is a strong word, but I really did. That was until I watched Laskar Pelangi and fell in love.

I fell in love with Gunnar Nimpuno’s cinematography, Riri Riza’s direction and the cute little boys from Laskar Pelangi. Now, they’re shooting the sequel to Laskar Pelangi – Sang Pemimpi.

One of my students, Dhimas, recommended me to read the books instead of watching the films. My first love is books, so I shall hunt Andrea Hirata’s series tomorrow at Johor and read them before the release of Sang Mimpi. I know it might cause harm to my review of the film, but essentially, a filmmaker – even an amateur – must read to widen her knowledge.

Here are some of the shots I got off Sang Mimpi’s Facebook fan page. Oh and they just started shooting two days ago!

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I love this shot.

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Guru yang kelihatan amat garang. I cannot be that kind of teacher.

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A good way to punish students.

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Priceless.

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Scenes like these makes me wanna go back to school.

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He kinda looks like Dato’ Rahim Razali. Fierce.

The release date is 17 December 2009, well, in Indonesia that is. To the crew of Sang Mimpi, please tell Riri Riza that I am a big fan and I wanna catch the premeire of the film although I am far away in Singapore.

I might as well fly off to the premeire for a short getaway, eh? Hmmm….