The reason I was motivated to come to your amazing event last night was because I resonate so much with what SMV stands for. I just wanted to share with you my life altering experience with a few of the topics you touched on at the event the other night.
First one being body image. I’m a singer, I spent five months in China, singing every single night in night clubs in 2018-2019, and then traveled solo around Thailand and Vietnam for two months. During my time in China, I was actually told I needed to lose 15 pounds in 10 days in order to keep my job.
I hadn’t even earned enough money to afford my plane ticket home yet, when I received a single text from my boss that said, “you you need to lose fat." So rude and cold. I was 115 pounds and I was told that I was obese from doctors there and even though I knew Chinese people have different body types, it still felt horrible to not be accepted the way my body was.
Being skinny started becoming my top priority because I had gotten so accustomed to the Chinese culture at that point and there is was so much pressure. I lost the weight and unhealthily kept it off for a while.
But then coming back to America, I noticed how different people treated me. There were different types of people that I attracted. More “popular”people started asking me to hangout and “come to this” and “that.” Girls asked how I did it. I got so many compliments saying I looked like a model, but I was the most unhappy and insecure I had ever been in my entire life.
I started to see how we have created this insane image of what beauty is. Because I was more confident when I was 15 pounds heavier. I have since gained the weight back, I eat a very healthy balanced diet, and I feel so much happier than I was then and I’m seeing myself attracting the kind of people that I want to attract.
I strongly support and encourage women to accept themselves however they are, and to stay healthy. Changing your appearance won’t make you accept yourself more. I’ve learned that from personal experience.
Seeing a standardized “cookie cutter” image of what the Chinese thought was beautiful from an outsiders perspective was so insane. I spent so much time doing my makeup to try to overcompensate for what I thought (what people toldme) was ugly.
For the longest time I wanted a nose job but seeing so many similar faces made me appreciate how unique my nose is and how it truly makes me, me ona global scale. The makeup trends, skin bleaching, and social media filters...I thought “why are they doing that to their face?” It made me take a second look at our own culture. I saw so much lack of authenticity and individuality. Irealized how similar the behavior in our culture is when you take away specifics and language. I stopped wearing so much makeup and now, I’ll even go weeks without wearing any at all and it feels so good. I feel like I get even more compliments when I’m bare faced.
As far as media, I couldn’t understand what any advertisements were saying or read them so I was never tempted to buy things I didn’t need. Nor did I have Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, or even Google! It was the most liberating feeling and I saved so much money!!
I saw more of myself when I recognized what I was not. This gave me the biggest dose of perspective than I ever imagined. I have so much love for China and my experience there. It is a very beautiful country with so many amazing things, people and values that we don’t have in North America. Not to mention it made me who I am today, which I am very happy with.
I do still struggle with body image sometimes, but I can talk about it now because I hold myself accountable for taking care of my mental health. I’ve developed coping mechanisms and daily habits that help me excel at being me. My favorite one is writing every single morning, and today I chose to write to you,SMV.
Just writing three pages every single morning has been so amazing for my mental health and has helped me achieve every single goal that I have ever dreamed of as a singer, and now songwriter. I encourage everyone to try it out.
The last thing I wanted to briefly touch on was traveling solo. It’s so much more doable than people think. I broke my phone and didn’t have any technology for four days in Thailand, and that happened to be the best four days of the trip!Just seeing how many people have followed my journey from photos I posted was so inspiring. I received so many messages of people booking their first plane ticket overseas and that was extremely humbling because it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but it made me grow.
So that’s what I want to inspire people to do. To seek the discomfort that will help propel them forward into growth.
If you made it this far (hahaha), thank you so much for taking the time to read my story!
Happy new year!
- Emma Negrete