When I was 19 years old, I was heading out to a nearby stall for lunch. Heaps of people were having their food. Along came a deranged man who is known to roam the area who constantly teases me. He saw me coming and said very loudly, “Big breasts girl.” Everyone stopped to stare including the mechanics who also constantly teased me. I blushed, was furious and wanted to cry but held back my tears.
I had comments about my body for two years living in that area and lived with it before heading abroad for my studies. Many years on, I can look back now and realized how those years impacted me badly and dictated how I dressed and behaved for many years. It was obviously sexual harassment and there was no one to complain to. Sadly, I don’t think this situation has changed much but that’s a story for another day.
My clothes were never too bright in case too many people looked at me. The T-Shirts were always baggy and conservative to say the least and I always had my arms across my chest as an armour of protection. I still do sometimes. Your confidence gets affected. Sometimes it’s a case of being as unattractive as possible so you don’t get any attention. For years, I avoided social settings because it meant dressing up and finding the right outfit and getting to the “right” level of attractiveness.
My twenties were spent pleasing people in how I looked so I did not offend nor intrude. And then of course, all the other insecurities like the size of the arms, the thighs and the tummy in addition to the chest thanks to media filled with photoshopped pictures of glorious looking women didn’t help.
I completely missed out on Sex And The City with their conversations on Manolo Blahniks and Jimmy Choos because I don’t watch much TV. People who know me in my previous “lives” know that clothes shopping was never an interest or an acquired skill.
I cannot remember exactly when I got more comfortable in my own skin. Maybe it was when I started working out or maybe when my long-term relationship ended with criticisms about how I looked or maybe when my son grew older or maybe it was meeting all the fashion businesses that got me experimenting. It started with the red lipstick. There’s nothing quite like a dash of colour to firstly perk yourself up before you can be cheerful with others.
And then it was experimenting with the heels. You can always fit into the shoes no matter what your weight was! To think I never wore anything more than 3 inches for a good part of my life. And then it was really analyzing who Freda Liu was and is. It’s the years of reading how we should dress according to our body type and not what fashion dictates and of course finally putting this knowledge to practise.
It is finding your own style and not being caught with up trends but at the same time being aware of trends so that a certain element can be incorporated into your current style. It’s about not being a slave to fashion but being your own trendsetter. Capiche?
What’s my personality? Maybe it’s positive affirmations but I want to be remembered as someone who is bright, optimistic, plenty to share, approachable and a distinctive individual. First impressions count and people see you first before they start talking to you. I stopped wearing too much black. I added colour and prints into my clothes. I started wearing dresses and skirts. I accessorized. I coloured my hair. And the first person I wanted to please was myself.
On Halloween’s Day last year, my colleague dressed like me and everyone knew she was mimicking me. Don’t ask me why it had be to Halloween’s Day. I had to laugh. Either I have a very distinct style or maybe I’m just too predictable. Either way, maybe it’s time to change my style…again!
Taken from the September issue of Baccarat Malaysia