The ‘I Weigh’ movement – why it challenges me so much.

If you haven’t heard of the ‘I Weigh’ movement, in a very brief nutshell it’s  a body-positive social-media movement launched by Jameela Jamil. It’s a campaign which highlights the importance of our non-physical attributes, critically challenging  “how women are taught to value themselves. In Kg”.  Jamil makes sure to make it clear that taking time to shift our focus from our looks to our accomplishments, our support systems or any other feats that we hold dear to our hearts needn’t necessarily mean a complete rejection of some of the more physical aspects of beauty, nor should we feel ashamed about wanting to be healthier and fitter . “By all means take pride in your appearance”, she says. “Enjoy your looks, and your clothes and your sex appeal, but don’t make it your number-one concern and selling point… We aren’t supposed to all look the same.”

One of the key parts of her campaign is striving to make editing and photo-shopping peoples bodies a thing of the past. Jamil expressly calls for all images taken of her to remain unedited, and as part of the #IWeigh story she calls other people to share unedited images of themselves.

“How wonderful!” “So brave!” “Let’s all embrace our true beauty!” you hear the masses cry, and while I agree I have not yet joined this campaign. And the reason for that is because, honestly, I’m absolutely terrified of it.Body Image

Not many people know this about me, but I used to be quite seriously bulimic while I was at university. I rarely ate healthily, and I always immediately felt guilty about eating and would force myself to throw up whatever I had eaten. I was loosing weight rapidly, but still felt huge. Whenever anyone commented on my weight loss, or how my legs or my body was looking slimmer, I felt encouraged to loose even more weight. I look at photos of myself now and I realise just how sick I looked. I wasn’t healthy, but I was desperate to be skinnier. I hated how big I felt.

Honestly, I’ve had issues with my body since I was a young teenager. I was very tall, and started developing very early. I was aware just how much ‘bigger’ I was compared to my friends. On top of this, boys seemed to only like my skinnier, smaller friends. So, I began to wish I looked like them. I hated the size of my hips, the fact that my arms weren’t toned, that my stomach wasn’t flat and that I didn’t have a gap between my thighs… Everything I wanted to be, everything I wanted to look like, wasn’t me.

Now I’m 24, I look back at how I looked in my teens and I’m so aware of how warped my self image was. I was slim, strong, and I definitely wasn’t fat. I was healthy. In fact, I was still healthy in sixth form. But I still saw myself as big.

After I got seriously thin, I worked hard to break out of the habit of making myself sick,

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My Thinnest

but I still ate unhealthily. This meant I rapidly gained weight, which led to my self esteem, my confidence and my self image dropping rapidly. Now I hated the way I looked because I actually was big, or at least I was bigger than I wanted to be, and I was bigger than was considered to be healthy. Truthfully, I am still bigger than I want to be, and in order to be healthier I need to live a healthier lifestyle. And I am loosing my excess weight, slowly, and I am trying to live a healthier lifestyle, but I am so afraid of looking at myself in the mirror or in photos because of how I feel about the way I look. It doesn’t matter to me that I have a BA in Drama and will soon hopefully have an MSc in Public relations, it doesn’t matter that I have skills and friends and family and talents and other positive non-physical attributes. Because all I can think about is how fat I look.

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My Biggest

How sad is that.

And I mean that literally. The fact I can’t enjoy being in a photo with my family, or that I hate having my photo taken at memorable or important events like friends weddings or parties makes me so sad. I want to feel comfortable in my own skin. But honestly, I just don’t. And it’s hard to remember a time when I ever did.

How I see myself is a work in progress. I’m very good at building others up, and I hope I remind my friends and family how beautiful and brilliant they are on a regular basis, but I find it so hard to build myself up. While not everyone experiences eating disorders, I think to an extent everyone finds it difficult to be fully body positive. I wanted to be completely honest in this post, about how I see myself and how challenging it is to be positive about yourself. But I want to commit to being more positive about myself, and being more honest and confident with how I really look… but also how I feel about how I look. I hope that this commitment to positive change comes through in my posts on here and on my other social media profiles, especially my Instagram. And I want to encourage anyone reading this who feels similarly about how they look, please don’t think about yourself as all the things you want to change, and try not to only value yourself by how you look. Because you are so much more than your image. You have value regardless of your weight. Lets all work together to be both happy and healthy.

 

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Reasons I am thankful: My reflections on this year on the first day of Chuseok – 내가 고마워하는 이유: 추석 첫날 올해에 대한 나의 생각은

It’s been over a year since I decided I wanted to move to the other side of the planet to live and work in Seoul, South Korea. I’m now in Korea, I’ve been here for 4 weeks and I have just over 2 weeks left before I head home. From today until Tuesday it’s the Korean Holiday Chuseok, the autumnal harvest celebration where traditionally Korean people would thank the spirits and their ancestors for the autumnal harvest. This is why Chuseok is commonly translated as “Korean Thanksgiving” to English speakers.

This morning I went to Church, as I do every Sunday, and I found myself thinking about all the things I am grateful for. Part of making one celebrates every Little Victory, I think it’s important to constantly and openly remind oneself of what makes you thankful or happy and what can motivate you further. So here is my Chuseok 2018 list of things I am thankful for.

I am thankful for:

  1. My Family
  2. My Friends from home who I have known for years
  3. The new Friends I’ve made who I hope to know for years to come
  4. My Education, and all I have learned in school, sixth form and university
  5. Finishing my Masters
  6. The opportunities I have had to be Creative and to enjoy my hobbies.
  7. The opportunities I have had to Work and Earn money
  8. My amazing Church in the UK
  9. My amazing Church in Korea
  10. The support and care from those who part of my wider Christian family
  11. My Health and the continual journey I am on to be healthier.
  12. My current state Mental Health and my support network for when my Mental health isn’t so good.
  13. The fact that 4 years ago I was unsuccessful in ending my own life, and the experience scared me so much I decided to help others who feel that way.
  14. That my calling to Korea has been met with encouragement, support and opportunity.
  15. That I can see how far I have come
  16. That I can see how far I could go
  17. That I feel comfortably out of my comfort zone.
  18. That I have a worldwide support network who make me feel so welcome and loved.
  19. All the experiences I have had that have led me here.
  20. For my blog, and for an outlet for me to share my thoughts in a creative and fun way.

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I hope you all have things you are thankful for, and I encourage you to comment them below. When you feel your worst it can really help to find something to be thankful for, even something little. It can put things in perspective and can help you feel motivated to keep on going.

So these have been my Chuseok #LittleVictories, what are yours?

추석 즐겁게 보내세요! Have a happy Chuseok.

If you want more updates from me, please follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @Connieunkiga

Am I annoying you yet? – 제가 아직 당신을 귀찮게 하고 있나요?

One of the harder things about travelling alone, or living and working abroad alone is that you’re… well… alone. You don’t have someone to spend every day with, or go around visiting places, or share your excitement over every little thing. In my case a lot of my friends in Korea have full time jobs, and therefore aren’t free except for evenings or weekends, and even then you can’t see them all the time ’cause, y’know, they have a life beyond you. 

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Now I love spending time by myself, I like being able to explore and experience quiet time, but I also love being around other people, I enjoy company. Especially here in Korea, company is commonplace. It’s rare to see people eating or drinking alone, you either see people in pairs or groups laughing and talking together. Naturally I also want to hang out with people, and chat and eat and drink together. However, I get so worried about annoying the friends I have here, and worrying about seeming needy or helpless, I’m reluctant to message them and ask to hang out.

I spoke to one of my friends about this, he knew that I wanted people to hang out with and that I was worried about becoming a burden, and he reassured me that even though people might be busy or working that they would always get back to me afterwards. He42329638_235625337104818_7502272894957780992_n said “you don’t to be or think about it so seriously” and reminded me that just how if I’m busy and a friend texts me, I might not answer straight away, but when I can I always message them back or call them to see whats up.

I found myself thinking about how often we decide not to message someone, or ask to meet up or chat because we are worried we might annoy that person by seeming needy or pathetic. I have done it so many times, when I’ve felt sad or lonely. I wanted to talk to someone, but didn’t.

And yet at the same time, I’m constantly telling my friends to contact me whenever they need someone to talk to, whether its day or night. I tell them this because they are my friends, I care about them, I love them. And if they need someone to talk to at 3 o’clock in the morning because they feel sad, you can bet I will always be willing to answer the phone, as well as sleepy probably.

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When your friends with someone, if they need you, or if they want to be with you and spend time with you, its nice. I mean, don’t get me wrong of course there are times where people can be annoying, but honestly, I’d rather be annoyed by my needy friends everyday than spend my time completely alone. I think we all need to be a little less scared of being annoying. Being considerate is of course a good trait to have, but asking your friend how they are, or how work was, or even asking them if they want to get a cup of coffee and catch up isn’t annoying. It’s nice.

 

 

For more updates on what I’m getting up to, follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook at @Connieunkiga

Not fitting in – 어울리지 않는다

Sorry guys, I’ve fallen a bit behind with my posts. But that’s simply because my time in Seoul has been SO MUCH FUN that I’ve got distracted/tired and I have literally fallen asleep thinking “man, I should really write a blog post…” But to make up for it, here is the first of three, yes three, blog posts that I will be publishing this weekend, one today, one tomorrow and one on Sunday.

42218125_1810490525732363_7911320834289958912_nPerhaps one of the things that has been most tiring is the fact that I am very aware of how ‘different’ I am. How I look, how I sound, how I dress… even the way I eat is different to some people. There have been many times where some of my Korean friends or acquaintances have been surprised about the way I eat. “Do you actually like that?!” “That’s not too spicy for you?!” “You know how to eat that!?”  I’m not offended by this at all, in fact I often take it as a compliment as they often times seem impressed. The fact I like Kimchi, and can use chopsticks quite well, and can handle my soju intake is often times a pleasant surprise for my Korean hosts. But it does make me very aware of just how much I am being watched.

 

 

If you haven’t seen my #ConnieIsTooTallForKorea series on Instagram, check it out and you will see that even my height makes me stand out. There are some doorways in Korea that I have to crouch under to get through.

The number of times I’ve walked down a street, or got onto a subway carriage and have heard “와, 그녀는 너무 키가 커!” (or “wow, she’s so tall!” for those of you who can’t read Korean) is too numerous for me to count. I’m also so aware of people just looking at me… everywhere. I’m not wanting to make it sound like I’m being self centred or that I think that everyone always looks at me, but here its feels like I always have a spectator. Whether its a small child, staring at me, waving and pulling their mothers hand to look at me too, or an older gentleman or woman who watches me with fascination as I sit trying to read on a park bench. I don’t fit in here. I’m very, very aware of that.

And yet at the same time, what makes me stand out is actually how much I fit into Korean life. I have helped a Korean woman with her shopping up the stairs, I have given up my seat for a pregnant lady on the subway, I’ve played with children and made them laugh, I’ve cooked here, I’ve ordered food here, I’ve given directions in Korean… I even have a portable fan that I whip out whenever I’m too hot which has led a few of my friends to laugh and say “wow, you’re a real Korean now”. I think the fact that I am trying so hard to live here normally, not as a foreigner who is unfamiliar and uncomfortable with Korean culture and practices, in a way makes me stand out more.

I’ve heard stories of foreigners who’ve lived here for years who never bothered to learn Korean, or people who live here and have refused to adopt any Korean cultural habits. I not only find that just incredibly narrow minded and self indulgent, but also incredibly boring and isolating.  I know that when I move here I will be ‘that tall British girl’ for a very long time, and even though I know I have friends here there is still a barrier because of my differences. The difference in appearance, the difference in culture… the difference in language. But perhaps the biggest difference is the fact that I don’t yet call 42219139_266924640827064_6001576403651264512_nKorea my home. In a few weeks, I have to get back on a plane and return to the UK. Of course I am looking forward to going back to my home in the UK and seeing my friends and family there, but I’m also sad. I’m sad because now when I go back to the UK, I don’t fit in there either. I don’t fit in there because I’m already so committed, so invested in the idea of learning, working and living in Korea.

 

I don’t fit in Korea, at least not yet. I may never fully fit in here. But I can tell you this already, that’s not gonna stop me moving forward and moving here. Even if I don’t fit through doorways, I’ll crouch down and make my own way in.

 

For more updates from me, please be sure to follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @connieunkiga

The importance of taking time for yourself – 자기 자신을 위한 시간을 갖는 것의 중요성

Hey guys and gals,

I’m finally back in Seoul, and even though I’ve only been here about 2 and a half days… I’m loving it. I’ve met up with friends everyday so far and I have a wedding to go to tomorrow. Life is good.

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If you’ve been following me on Twitter or on Instagram you will have seen that I have been suffering from the most SPECTACULAR jet lag I have ever experienced. Even today, I slept through two alarms and woke up at 4:30 in the afternoon. 

This concerns me quite a bit as I really REALLY can’t sleep through my alarms tomorrow because I HAVE to be at my friends wedding. It’s the reason I flew out here. And I’m in an unfamiliar city (this is only my second visit here) in an unfamiliar apartment, I’m still not as comfortable with the language as I would like and, I’m not gonna lie, I am so hot and uncomfortable because of the weather and my size. I’m basically a BSG here in Korea, a Big Sweaty Giant. I’m very aware that all of these things might lead me to not feeling my best mentally.

However, I’m not feeling miserable. In fact, I’m actually quite happy. And I think that’s because I have made sure that even in these first few days, I’ve not overwhelmed myself with having to do all the things possible with all the people possible. I’ve made sure to take time for myself and say no to things if I needed. Whether that’s giving myself a day to feel tired and jet lagged and just stay in bed (today) or splashing out just a little bit and having some quality me time while I got my hair done at Juno Hair in Hongdae (thanks to Moon Chae Rin for doing my hair, giving me a discount and for talking me through you hair tips). I knew these first few days were gonna take their toll on me, and I wanted to be sure that I didn’t burn out too fast. So while making sure I do the more obvious and active elements of looking after myself like socialising and exercising and going outside, I am also allowing myself time simple just for me. So I can rest, both physically and mentally.

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In Korea it is a social taboo to ever turn down an invitation from someone important or someone more senior than you. It’s considered very rude to do so, unless you have an excuse that takes a higher priority (family issues, health issues, appointments etc). I’ve only been here 3 days and I’ve already had 2 friends say they either couldn’t meet up in the first place or that they had to cancel because someone more senior asked them to go out. Now, I’m not trying to make these people feel guilty cause I didn’t mind, I understood that they had to change their plans accordingly, and neither am I trying to say that what they are doing is bad. What I am saying is that sometimes we all have a tendency to put something else before our ‘own’ time. Whether its work, or friends, or something else, sometimes we feel like we have to say ‘yes’ when we really want to say ‘no’.

Maybe we all need to start thinking of ourselves as someone who is of a high priority. Humans are very prone to over working themselves and pushing too hard. Doing nothing can actually be far more useful for you than trying to do too many things at once. Time for yourself provides healing, rest, reflection, space for doing things that you enjoy and that make you happy. Taking time for yourself is important, so please make sure you are taking that time and using it well.

follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook at @ConnieunKiga