Like Water

Like Water

Jerry | Male, Asian, He/Him

What does “body positivity” mean to you? How has your body image changed over time? How does your body image play a role in your identity or even in your daily life?

Bodies are art to me. Similar to art, there can be “masterpieces” — the six-pack bodybuilder, literally built as if they were sculpted by Michelangelo. However, one of my favorite artistic movements is the Dutch Golden Age. Prospering economically and culturally after gaining new independence, their art took a big shift from prior times, choosing to emphasize the daily settings, actions and feelings of people. This could be playing piano, cooking a stew or sitting on a chair. There is beauty in the way we live our ordinary lives in the same way that bodies are beautiful regardless if you don’t meet the “beauty standard” of the society you live in. It reminds me of a French sculptor’s quote: “Beauty is everywhere. It is not that she is lacking to our eye, but our eyes which fail to perceive her.”

How has body image affected your mental and emotional health? What’s something that helps you feel comfortable in your own skin?

Exercising and eating healthy are things I do now, not to lose weight but out of enjoyment. I must admit that my original goals to get healthy by doing crunches until I get abs or eat salad until I lose my double chin have all failed. It was only until I fell in love with tennis on the club team that I willingly started to train and run on my own, slowly building muscles and getting closer to the physique I wanted. UCLA’s BPlate played a big role in showing me that healthy food options are always available and don’t always sacrifice taste. Now part of UCLA’s triathalon team, I love to run, swim and bike but don’t have enough time to. I’ve made these physical activities into the precious moments I cherish instead of being chores.

How can we talk about our body image with our loved ones in a way that is supportive and helpful? How has the media influenced your body image?

Have different types of bodies and people in media. This can be actors and models for clothing. Positions that are normally associated with beauty being filled with diverse looks that defy the normal beauty standard, as long as they have their own story.

Is there a specific message that you’d like to convey by participating in this project?

I’m an active guy, and I’ve internalized sports into my daily life now. I play tennis almost every day; try to run, bike and swim with my triathalon team; and stretch every morning and night, also using the sauna for recovery. It’s a lot, but I love it all. However, I know I can only do these things while I’m young. Physically, I’m going to have to sacrifice some sports or the load at which I train as I get older. However, one of my biggest inspirations in being active is my 92-year-old grandma who wakes up every single morning around 6 a.m. to do tai chi. The control of her body’s movement amazes me as she stands on one foot while pivoting fluidly, transitioning her body weight. It shows me that at any age, one can find some way to be active and find mastery. I hope everyone knows that despite their starting point, there is an option to find love in physical activity and training.