This article mentions body image and diet culture.
The definition of home can change throughout your life. It might be the house you grew up in, your first-year dorm or your first apartment as an adult. But the home that stays with you no matter what is your own body. And, just like the paint colour, furniture or even the floor plan of your house might change, the foundation remains the same.
Sometimes finding and cultivating that perfect home takes time.
For first-year Sauder student Gavin Fung, making his body feel like home has been a journey of self-acceptance.
“I think, probably for the first 16 years of my life, it's [been] a lot of self hate,” Fung said. "I think it’s within the last two years that I really got comfortable with my body and being in my skin.”
A lot of it has been “pushing out the external hate” that stems from being at the intersection of the Asian and 2SLGBTQIA+ communities, Fung explained. He pointed out some of the inherent contradictions that exist between the bodily ideals of these two communities.
Based on Fung’s experience, weighing less and appearing thinner are valued in the Asian community. Meanwhile, men in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community are often expected to have perfectly sculpted and toned physiques.
As a gay Asian man, Fung said it is impossible for him to satisfy the bodily expectations of both communities.
Going home for the holidays and attending family gatherings can also mean subjecting oneself to remarks from relatives about body image and weight gain, as has been Fung's experience. Whether or not these comments are spoken with malicious intent, they can be detrimental to one’s relationship with their body.
Over the past two years, Fung has tried to distance himself from the harmful expectations of these communities. For the most part, it’s been working.
To remedy some of the remaining internal dissatisfaction, Fung relies on self-care in the comfort of his dorm room. Most often, this consists of putting on a sheet mask and listening to Adele.
Fung said people often don’t expect him to be at the point of self-acceptance based on his appearance. For example, he usually opts for baggy clothing because it makes him feel comfortable.
What those people don’t understand, said Fung, is that form-fitting outfits do not equate to self-love. He observed that assumptions like this reinforce a toxic concept of self-love, where perceptions of our own relationships with our bodies are linked to how we look on a given day, and we are constantly told to love ourselves.
But “realistically, that’s not always possible,” he said. “It’s not that simple.”
Fung admits that sitting at home with a sheet mask may be a small act, but “because I’m able to give myself that time and that care I need, it allows me to view myself in a better light.”
Some days, Fung finds himself coming home exhausted after what may not have been the best of days. Then he’ll take a break, listen to some music, and remind himself: “I might not be doing the best, but I’m getting there.”