December 06, 2005

No Longer The Ugly Duckling

“My.. what big butt you have,” exclaimed Aunt Lucy to Mandy.

She wasn’t acting in an adult version of the story of The Little Red Riding Hood though. She was merely commenting on the size of her niece’s ever growing rear. Mandy’s face turned as red as the apple she had had for breakfast. That was the usual remark that greeted Mandy unfortunately. No wonder she dreaded family gatherings. None of “Hi sweetie. How are you?” or “I heard you scored all As in your exam! Congratulations love!” was directed at her. Only Cindy, who was born 8 minutes after Mandy, received such greetings.

Being the 8 year-old girl that she was, “I got all As too you know…” Mandy thought irritably.

That went on for years. When the twins got to high school, Cindy was famous for her good looks and slim body while Mandy, well let us just say she used to hide and avoid any attention to herself. Mandy had gotten used to most of the unkind comments by that time. Typically, she would shut them out but sometimes it just got too much for her and hot tears would well up in her eyes.

“I’ve had enough of this,” she said to herself one day. “I can’t keep on living like this. My every achievement is worth less because of my weight. I’ve got to do something about it. It’s not going away by itself now is it? I’m gonna do everything it takes to be slim. That way, i can live up to my potential and start having confidence at last.”

From then on, she stuck to her words. Nobody knew what hit her. All of a sudden, she’d have only fruits most of the time. She would have meals sometimes but like her cousin had commented, she ate like a bird. Even when her family had meals in restaurants, she would only order dessert, which of course was a bowl of fruits. If it got too hard, she’d stay at home alone while her brothers and sisters went for burgers and ice creams. On top of that, she started going for aerobics classes. The first few classes, it took all her courage to step into the room full of middle-aged women. She was barely 16 then, yet, she was the largest. It wasn’t easy for her, but giving up was not at all an option.

She kept at all of these day in and day out, checking her progress along the way. With every pound she’d lost, she was motivated to lose even more. By the time she was to go to college, she’d lost all excess weight and was not a fat girl anymore. She was finally ‘normal’ and started to experience things her girlfriends had gone through years ago.

Suddenly, boys started paying attention to her. She enjoyed the attention but she was cautious not to get too close to anyone whom she knew was only after her for how she looked. Her confidence grew. She found herself smiling more than ever before. Finally she started doing what she wanted. She started loving sports, and she tried any kind that she had the opportunity to. Nothing could stop her from living her life to the fullest. Heck, she even tried bungee jumping during a trip to New Zealand. At last, she was being the best Mandy she could be.

But was she really? At least, that’s what she’d thought initially; that she was finally free from being afraid. That was only until she met a decent guy whom she felt was sincere in getting to know her and whom she now refers to as, her boyfriend. Although she sees a future with him, she’s terrified of driving him away though. She has come to realize that she’s not completely free after all. She’s still haunted by her insecurity as a result of her self-doubting adolescence. She gets paranoid way out of line sometimes and she sees those as her ‘fat scars’. The kind which no amount of technology can help reduce.

So here goes another battle. Her only chance to slowly but surely get over her fears was to be strong, along with her boyfriend’s support and assurance. However, how much can he take? How long till she’s ‘cured’? Only time will tell..

- 5 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Hi,

    I enjoyed that story.

    In a way anyone is facing fears or is worried about something. I liked it how the story developed. No matter what a person is doing after achieving one goal there is always a new challenge.

    Referring to the last two paragraphs: do you think or intended to say that she is happy or only thinking of the troubles in life?



    13 Jan 2006, 02:32

  2. How human beings are sad. Never satisfied, and the anxiety never leaves from people. Especially, from those who has something which he/she really wants to save. If it is important, the insecurity will be enlarged more and more….
    This story also shows the other aspect of people such as strongness or fickleness. If a person decides something sincerely, they will do everything. And,...'Suddenly, boys started paying attention to her' …must be true. :-)
    I enjoyed reading it!!!

    13 Jan 2006, 11:57

  3. Yes, Dina, she was no longer the ugly duckling, and yes, Christian and Junko are right when they comment that the story shows that all human beings have worries even when they might have everything, and how human beings can be sad! … but … the last part of this story just spiralled down from what was an excellent start and an excellent build up, and which was all very well written down. It lost its grip from "That was only until she …" in the second-last paragraph. What I thought you tried to show in this story in the end was how a person's emotionally insecure childhood continues to haunt them in their life, but unfortunately, the aspect didn't seem to knit into the story; because, if my (just-mentioned) conjecture is right, then it only got told rather too hurriedly rather than being shown. I think you could have used the flashback technique to tell about her childhood and the rest of the story could have been about her ‘present’ state of suffering as a result of that childhood.

    Otherwise, as I commented previously, you write well; my suggestion: Continue writing! You will certainly get even better.

    27 Jan 2006, 00:36

  4. wow. u really do analyse our stories very thoroughly indeed Hasan. u are absolutely right. admittedly, i added the last 2 paragraphs with hesitation. initially, i ended the story with 'at last she was being the best Mandy she could be. and after reading and re-reading it i was afraid it might be too straightforward. so i thot i'd insert an element of 'the grass is always greener on the other side'.. of how people are always unsatisfied with something as Christian and Junko had pointed out. however, my word count was already overshooting the suggested range and i would've continued trying to 'show', had there been more 'space'. on top of that, as i was already immersed in the story, i couldn't really see what other people would notice from reading it. consequently, the ill-planned ending was apparently obvious.
    Thanks Christian, Junko and Hasan for your comments :)

    27 Jan 2006, 15:49

  5. I really like your story and it is very authentic. I experience exactly the same for my life :D
    so I think it is more like a description than a ploted story…
    And I like your words and style, simple but honest.
    75 for story 1
    85 for story 2
    90 for story 3

    30 Jan 2006, 14:11

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