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Read the passage carefully. Then choose the correct answer.
 
Why do I seem to be perpetually struggling with my weight? This realization hit me one day while I was looking at a photograph of myself taken in 1998. The face that stared back at me was haggard but slim. In fact, I could even see my collarbones jutting out from my purple blouse. And yet, at that time, I had thought I was fat. I now realized that it was a psychological as well as a physical warfare for me. Ever since that year, I had put on ten more pounds. The purple blouse is still with me but it is shoved right into the back of the cupboard for it reminded me of my slimmer days.

Ever since I was small, I have been slightly plump. My photographs show that I had no neck, just tons of flesh everywhere. My grandmother called me 'Gu Sai' (cow dung) because I looked like a blob of that. Friends called me 'Tua Pui fen' or Fatty Jen and that name stuck till I was in my teens. With such nicknames, it was not surprising that I had problems with my self-image.

Although I continued to be slightly overweight throughout my teens, I was not obese or fat. So, I never bothered to go on a diet. I did not have enough self-discipline or the desire to do so. My classmates were always prettier and thinner than me. They were popular with boys while I excelled in games. Soon, I dressed like a boy, in jeans and T-shirts. These were more comfortable and I could hide all those ugly bulges. I felt safe as if by dressing that way, I could divert people's attention. However, the mode of dressing attracted unwanted attention from well-meaning relatives. They were afraid that I would turn out to be a tomboy. Once I heard them whispering to my parents and I cried.

My self-image improved over the years as I took up guitar-playing and became a youth leader in church. In university, I lost a lot of weight due to the hectic pace of life. Suddenly, I was the centre of attention and boyfriends were aplenty. I discovered dresses. However, like a yo-yo, my weight was up again during the holidays.

Today, two children later, I am still struggling to lose that ten pounds or so. I have also moved from size M to XL, back and forth. Even though my colleagues tried to reassure me that I was pleasantly plump, I still find it difficult to accept that perhaps I might never be able to lose those extra pounds. I blame the mass media which glorifies thin women. Images of beautiful women in magazines taunt and torture me. The shopping centers and designers are also not helping at all. It is so difficult to go shopping nowadays. They sell those tiny little T-shirts everywhere as if to snub my weight. Yes, the message seems to be: small is beautiful, big is not acceptable to society. Thank God for my tailor and some good shopping centers which stock sizes for bigger women.

Over the years, I have finally learnt to accept my weight and realize that being healthy and fit is more important. I have learnt to be less sensitive about my weight and accept what I cannot change although I still look in the mirror and wish that certain parts of me could be slimmer or smaller. I have also resolved to eat sensibly and to exercise. I wouldn't sweat over insensitive comments. If on certain mornings when I don't look so good, I want to count my blessings and let small stuff go. Life is too short to be spent on struggling with this psychological warfare. In the meantime, I am going to finish my fried kway teow.

     
  1. From paragraph 1, what conclusion did the writer make regarding her struggle with her weight ?
     
  2. From paragraph 2, 'With such nicknames, it was not surprising that I had problems with my self-image.'
    (a) mention two nicknames given to the writer.
    (b) why did these names cause her to have problems with her self-image ?
     
  3. From paragraph 3,
    (a) what do you think the writer's relatives were whispering about ?
    (b) why did the writer cry ?
     
  4. From paragraph 5,
    (a) why did the writer blame the media for her struggle ?
    (b) what was the message that the writer received from shopping centers and designers ?
     
  5. From paragraph 6, what was the writer's wish and what had she finally realized about herself ?
     
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    Answers
     
  1. It was a psychological as well as a physical warfare.
     
  2. (a) 'Tua Pui Jen' and 'Gu Sai'.
    (b) The names referred to her being fat.
     
  3. (a) That they thought she might turn out to be a tomboy.
    (b) She felt sad when she heard their comment.
     
  4. (a) It is because the media glorifies thin women.
    (b) That small is beautiful and big is not acceptable
     
  5. She wished that certain parts of her body were slimmer.  However she realized that being healthy and fit was more important.
     
 
 
 
 

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