One sees themselves differently than everyone else around them. Look into your mirror. What do you see? Are you smiling? Are you proud? Are you happy? In Jay’s experience, mirrors have been the element of change that made them realize who they were and who they are destined to become.
Every morning I wake up, take my meds and vitamins, go to the washroom, and then look in the mirror. I usually never linger or stare, but when I do, I take a moment to really look at myself and acknowledge that my body is different. I know I’m fat and I’m okay with it. I am in a place where I can be fully transparent, authentic, and unapologetic. It wasn’t always like this, though.
Since I was a kid, I faced adversity throughout my life. Being raised in a conservative, Catholic, Asian household, I had the obligation to live up to the unachievable and unrealistic expectations of my family. I made it my mission as such a young child to be a dedicated student, a reliable son, and a loving brother. Being a selfless and empathetic person, it was difficult to prioritize myself and put myself ﬁrst. I always put others before myself. This was the beginning of a challenging journey to ﬁnd validation and acceptance, not only from others but from myself.
Steam fogs the mirror
In my late teen years, I would have trouble sleeping because I was thinking about how I was going to be happy in the future. Long nights and tear-soaked pillows characterized this time of my life, with no hope for the future. Negative thoughts, emotions, and assumptions were the steam that fogged up my life. Constant narratives ﬁlled my thoughts like, “how could someone ever see me for anything more than my fatness?” or “I will never have a normal life because everything about me is different”. There were so many questions that I had. Who would ever understand? Where am I going in life? When will I stop crying? Why am I so lost? And this was just the beginning of my journey to self-love.
A distorted funhouse mirror
Funhouse mirrors are a carnival crowd favourite. They make your body twist and turn to make it unrecognizable from its original form. My bathroom mirror had the same illusion, but it wasn’t as fun. I felt confused looking into my mirror and as a non-binary person, I felt like I never understood what my body should look like or what parts ﬁt and what didn’t. I struggled to ﬁght what was masculine and feminine about my body. What didn’t help was the culture I was brought up in, because my culture didn’t challenge toxic norms but enforced them. I identify as a plus-size, Queer, Gay, Non-binary, Filipinx-Canadian, which doesn’t align with traditional roles in Filipino culture.
Battling these norms was one of the hardest battles I have had to ﬁght. It started as a child when I was told to put down my second plate of food or listen to an unsolicited comment from a relative about my body. Fat shaming, toxic masculinity, gender norms, and so much more are rooted in my culture. I have found that speaking with my brother and some other relatives helped in ways I couldn’t imagine before reaching out. Gradually, my family is making their way to understanding me, but in the end, I am just glad I can be there for myself.
Cracks in the glass
A mirror only needs a few cracks to shatter. I was the biggest-sized person in my family and in my friend group. This realization created cracks in the idea that I could ever truly be loved. I searched for love in all the wrong places. From malicious men who made false promises to vices that took away temporary pain, my mirror was on the brink of shattering. Unattainable and unrealistic body standards on social media, dating apps with shallow minds, and the constant T.V. show trope of the “fat best friend” seemed to relentlessly tap on the glass that was cracked in every corner. I wanted to break free. For so many years I could not recognize my own reflection and couldn’t look into my own eyes without shedding a tear.
The glass finally shatters
I am not perfect and will never be perfect. We are meant to evolve as that is how we grow. It is up to us to gently take our pieces and acknowledge our pain. I look at my pieces and am reminded of the battles I have fought to get to where I am today. My world needed to shatter for me to create a mosaic so powerful, unique, authentic, and free.
I struggle to see myself in the world that I live in today but I hope through my story I can be an example to others. I encourage others to take up space and not be the slightest bit apologetic because we are all a snack and a half.
If there was one thing I learned when feeling lost, it is to take a deep breath and grab a pen and paper, and:
- Write out all of the worries, doubts, and problems running through your mind.
- Cross out all the things you cannot control and highlight the things you can.
- Look at the things you can change and start with the easiest one.
Through this exercise, acknowledge your power and remember that you have the power to write your own story and become the main character you are destined to become.
Jay Legaspi (he/she/they) is a 22 y/o Fat, Queer, Gay, Non-Binary, Filipinx-Canadian born and raised on the unceded territories of the Semiahmoo, Kwantlen and Katzie First Nations A.K.A. Surrey, BC, Canada. If you really knew Jay, you’d know that they are very passionate about music, drag, charcuterie boards, and most of all, mental health advocacy. Within the past few years, Jay has cultivated an understanding of what barriers and adversity they face and what needs to be done to break them down. Jay’s aspirations in life are to continue to break stereotypical norms, advocate and encourage Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, and lastly to be beautiful, authentic, and unapologetically themself in everything that they do and with everything that they are.
Photography by Tyrone Lim
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