Being an Asian American female, I often felt othered in my own body because of my race and gender. It was hard enough to accept my Asian facial features, and a greater challenge still to accept my Asian female body that checked off every stereotype: no curves, small boobs, childlike, rectangular figure. In other words, an easy target for bullying, harassment and fetishism. Not only did I feel very conscious of my un-Kardashian-like form, I couldn’t run for very long, couldn’t lift myself off the ground into a full crunch, and I hated seeing my thin arms exposed in pictures. My lowest points are probably when my own mother comments and judges my looks and my body, as is common of Asian immigrant mothers. How I dreamed of having nice muscles to knock out the bullies, one-up the street harassers, and hip toss purse-snatchers in superhero fashion!

And then COVID-19 hit. Quarantine made me lonelier than I already was, and left me to ruminate on my insecurities more than ever. Comparing myself to others, loathing my looks, and feeling like a failure every day—until one day, I decided to do something about it. When I found out about the viral Chloe Ting Challenge on Instagram, I looked up her programs and decided to commit myself to working out consistently like I’d always wanted to. I began my fitness journey with the 25 Days Hourglass Challenge. It was grueling, but Chloe was always encouraging and adorable. I loved my results at the end, so much so that I took on more of her workout programs. 

Within two months of working out, I began to shift my focus from seeking idealistic results to enjoying the journey. That’s how I learned to appreciate my body for what it can already do and how it can change. I finally realized how to feel beautiful, desirable and worthy for how I already am and what I can already do. That’s why I want to thank Chloe, and why I went on to complete more challenges!

I’d go on to tackle the 5 Weeks Booty Challenge, Hourglass: Abs & Butt Program, 2 Weeks Shred Challenge, and now I’m finishing the 2020 Get Peachy Challenge. I learned what kind of exercises I liked best, like using weights, squats and fire hydrants; and which ones I hated, like mountain climbers, up-and-down planks and corkscrews. Chloe always offered modified versions to any exercise moves that were complicated for beginners. She’d explain why the exercises were good at activating targeted body areas. Chloe would suggest modifications and encourage people to use them to fit their needs, and cheer them on to do the best by their abilities. She would also take care to reassure her followers of how common body features like hip dips are normal.

My self-care efforts didn’t end at exercise. They branched out to learning how to cook nourishing meals, sleeping better, and motivating myself to get projects done. I’m learning to be patient, and to appreciate my progress in life, whether big or small. By following Chloe Ting, I also learned the importance of community in wellness for me. I looked up more women of color fitness influencers and found a lot of great inspiration in Blogilates, Brittne Babe, Emi Wong and Jessamyn Stanley. I found body positivity activists like Kamila Hoe, Tiffany Ima and Clara Dao. Then I built my own little close-knit community to work out with my friends.

Self-care is a practice to pursue across various aspects of life, as health includes both physical and mental wellness. I now look for and find ways to pursue a positive vision of myself through holistic practices that brighten my whole person—whether it’s acting or dancing or writing—and finding their most healing and accessible aspects to share with others. I am learning self-acceptance and self-compassion. My journey with Chloe Ting taught me to trust my intuition, to be unafraid of challenges, and to keep believing in myself and my body. After all, my body houses my talents, my hopes and dreams, and my future.

Photo credit: stock.adobe.com

Author

  • Emily Mun is an actor and writer who was born and raised in New York City. She is best known for her film work with Refinery29. Her work focuses on intersectional feminism and Pan-Asian American issues. She writes articles, stories, plays and screenplays. She has been published by online platforms such as HelloGiggles, Mochi, Cold Tea Collective and April Magazine. Her monologue “Anna May Wong: PERSONA” was published in the book “In Full Color: The First Five Years Anthology”. Follow her at @emilyhmun.

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