It has always been weird for me when people I haven’t seen for quite some time or people I am not particularly close to greet me with something like “Tumaba ka, ah. (You got fat.)” I have never known how to properly respond to this and just go to my default reaction of smiling then trying to change the subject. I find this insulting and it makes me wonder if these people have any sense of basic good manners (aside from the fat comments I also have to contend with questions of why I am not married yet but this is a different matter altogether and would require several pages of indignant ranting on my part). Most people would not even have the decency to open the conversation with a polite “Kamusta ka na? (How are you?)” and would just go straight to pointing out that I got fat.

For the record, I am 59 kg (130 lbs), 5’3 ft (161.54 cm) and my BMI is 23 (normal BMI is 18.5-24.9) and this has been the highest on the BMI scale that I have ever been. Considering that I have passed my recent PFTs and have not been sick for quite some time, I could say that I am a healthy individual. Most mornings, I would look in the mirror and like what I see, curves and all. But people chose to focus on my weight as if it is something negative. Honestly, the comments started to get to me.

When I was a cadet, my BMI went as low as 18 since I only weighed 47 kg. But those were cadet days. I could eat anything and everything I wanted, how much and when I wanted without gaining a pound because of all the physical activities we had to do. My life is so much different now. My metabolism is not the same as it was 6 years ago. It made me wonder if people really want me to look like an emaciated twig. I have no ambition of being a model or a movie star so why am I being subjected to the same twisted standards that the shallow public holds for their shallow celebrities? Do I have to live up to other people’s standards?

On March 11, 2014, I posted a Facebook status: “People, if I need you opinion about my career, my love life, or even my weight, I will ask you. Otherwise, shut your traps and shove your opinions up your ass.” I just got fed up already. I am so done.

Let me clarify that I do not condone being fat. I strongly believe that it is an individual responsibility to stay fit and healthy. My profession requires that I maintain a certain standard of fitness. I swim and scuba dive because I love the feeling of being in the water. I run and walk my dogs because I know the importance of staying active. I sometimes do my Turbo workouts because they are fun even though my best friend calls it my “chicken dance”. I do yoga because it is my constant reminder to just keep breathing and it is ok if you cannot touch your toes.

I will exercise because I love to eat. That is the truth and I am not ashamed to say it. Food has always been central to my family and it would always be that way for me even if I left our home more than 10 years ago. I always try to eat healthy but I will not beat myself up for eating junk foods. I believe that ice cream is a food group. As is lechon. I will never be willing to give up rice and bread. Wine and beer makes me happy. How Nigella Lawson looks at 50 is the only proof I need that I have nothing to be afraid of when I eat midnight snacks. I would rather be happy.

I remember a conversation with a guy and he was giving me advise that I should lose weight since men start looking for “someone else” when their girlfriends or wives start to get fat. It was a really an awkward conversation for me. I felt insulted because he is basically saying that women are only acceptable if we are stick thin. I pity him for being shallow, but I pity his wife even more for being with a guy like him.

I am NOT fat. I am much more than that word which you chose to describe me. I have done so much with my life already to allow anybody to demean me. I can tell you so much about myself and my adventures if you can be a decent person and see beyond my “weight gain”. I can tell you about the books I have read and the movies I have seen. I can tell you about how I survived cadet training and being in the Army. I can tell you the mountains I have climbed and the seas that I have scuba dived in. I can tell you about how I opened a business from scratch without any experience or background whatsoever. I can tell you about the beauty and extreme poverty in some of the places I have been to and how gratifying it is to be able to do something for the people living there. I can tell you about my family, my friends and the people that have influenced me along the way. I have my mind and my heart and my soul. I refuse to be called fat just as I refuse to demean anyone by labeling them as “fat”.

My weight, if it does not offend you or negatively affect you in any way, should be none of your business.