I saw that you posted an Instagram photo and you explained your heritage and you are a million different things! What is your heritage?
My mom is Chinese, born and raised, like genuinely has an accent. Her grandparents on one side are Dutch and Indonesian and my dad is white, but second generation German-Hungarian and of Jewish decent. American culture and Asian culture is so different so when they come together, it’s crazy… it’s us! We are literally both the result of white and Asian culture in one person. If I wasn’t raised with such tough love and culture, I would be even more of an asshole than I am now.
I am half Korean, half Australian and I began to realize from an early age, the sort of offensive inferences that people would make about me because of my Asian decent. What are some of the connotations that are often associated with your heritage that you have discovered growing up?
When I was in middle school, I was one of those kids that didn’t care about anything and ate everything and I was kind of fat, but loved life and the second that my mom started saying, “oh you’re getting older, you need to be pretty and skinny”, that’s when I went like arghhh. In Asian culture, it’s so important to be “pretty”. I went to a high school with a lot of Korean girls and they would talk about how they wanted to get this surgery and that surgery and they were literally the most beautiful girls I’ve ever seen in my life.
Being a half Asian woman, people will make racist comments and think that it won’t bother me at all, but it is who I am. I would never make a racist comment about their culture, so I can’t understand why some people think it’s okay to say it to me because I’m half white.
I can remember so clearly, the first time I questioned my body image. A boy made a comment about my 10-year-old body. Do you remember the first time someone made a critique about your body that made you think about it for the first time?
In middle school, I didn’t really care about fashion, I just wore a tee shirt and sweat pants – I didn’t give a fuck, I was like, what, 12…13? I would eat whatever I wanted. Ask anyone; I was the happiest kid ever. I remember in middle school when someone made a comment about my body for the first time, it was on Facebook. I didn’t really get invited to bar mitzvahs, so when I was invited to my friend’s, I was so excited. I got a dress and I felt amazing because I never used to wear dresses. I went and had a great time. A picture was posted of everyone dancing and I was in it and this guy in my grade commented, “oh my god, she is so fucking fat” and “oh my god, look at her legs, she’s huge” and I remember thinking, oh my god… Am I fat? Am I a fat girl? The popular girls were skinny and started to grow boobs and I was literally this shapeless little chunky girl, honestly. That was seventh grade and in eighth grade, it got worse and in high school, that was when I developed an eating disorder. It genuinely switches something in your brain, like one of those mini epiphanies.
What does body positivity mean to you?
The first step to body positivity and loving yourself is becoming aware of your downfalls, like the negative thoughts that you’ve had about your body and knowing that it could happen again, but if it does, it doesn’t mean that you are back to square one. It’s about understanding that you are always growing and that you are in the process of not only loving your physical body, but learning to literally love you – everything about your body and what it can do for you like, “I can get up and walk today, wow look how nice my legs are”. It’s about looking into the function of something and not just the appearance. Being body positive comes naturally when you truly understand that everyone is made up differently and everyone is their own person. Seeing other people love themselves is the best thing ever.
When I see people who are completely happy in their own skin, makes me go, wow I want to be like that, I want to praise myself more.
It’s literally about practicing the “good”. That’s all you are doing. All the bullshit with body hate shouldn’t be a thing. When someone can be just like, “hey you are a beautiful person”, that is being positive in general and we don’t even need to throw “bodies” into it. Everyone is literally his or her own person.
From what I see on your Instagram, you seem like such a confident woman.
I know and you know, I am confident in myself, but there was a time when I used to write in my journal, “oh my god, this is how I am going to be forever”. I was a very under-confident person. At the end of senior year of high school, I went through a bad break up and started binging and restricting on repeat. Within six months, I was restored physically, but mentally, I was the same person, just sixty pounds heavier and that’s a lot for someone. I used to think, this is my life now. When that happened, there was a time when I literally wouldn’t leave my house. I went from dressing really well to only wearing the two same sweat pants and one sweatshirt every day for six months. Everyone knew, but I never said I was sick and I lost touch with people. There was a time when I would not shower because I did not want to see myself naked. I refused to. I remember my dad came into my room and he was like, “Kayla, you gotta get up” and I responded, “I do not want to, I cannot go outside”. He picked me up and told me to get into the shower. I remember just not wanting to get in the shower and he was getting frustrated with me because he was a single dad who didn’t understand this body stuff and eventually he asked me, “okay, do you want to shower with the lights off?” so I literally showered with the lights off. I also refused to wear my glasses or contacts because I didn’t want to look at myself in the mirror. It was a very painful time. Now, when I post pictures of my body, I am genuinely so proud of myself. I went from hating my body to growing and honestly loving my body!
That is a beautiful outcome. Thank you for sharing that with me, Kayla.
I think that it probably got taken down, but I saw the picture that you posted with your top off on Instagram and I was like fuck yeah.
Yeah it did get taken down. I remember getting the notification telling me that my image had been taken down and I was just like… you fuckers.
It sucks because I used to not want anyone to see me naked and now I have finally reached this point of peace with my body and just because people decide to sexualise my body, it has to be taken down, but you know what, I am so fucking proud of it. It wasn’t a picture of me with my boobs out and sucking in, I was literally wearing jeans and my stomach rolls were overflowing and I was like, look how pretty and even if I was, who gives a fuck. If you cannot help yourself from sexualising a woman's anatomy that's not my problem so don't project it on me. Oh, and my nipples weren’t hard because it was a real ass photo. It was a picture of me. I was just chilling with my top off because it was hot out! It’s just a picture of a person hanging out.
Check out this incredible gal, here.