(Photo credit: Intan Kemala Sari/Instagram @kemalasari)
Intan shares her secrets to achieve self acceptance and self love.Retno Wulandari 22 May 2017 19:30
Being different (or being seen as different) is not easy, especially in a world that loves to impose some ideal standards, as if people are demanding you to comply each and everything on the list just to fit in with others.
Being pretty and slim are two of the standards women are forced to follow.
Countless plus-size women in the world are struggling with this beauty standard. Most of them have never wished to be a “big girl”. I’ve heard once from a wonderful lady that being overweight is like wearing a bright orange shirt in a sea of black. It draws attention, but not in a good way. With the society just seeing big girls from their outer shells, sometimes people fail to see what’s inside.
This is what Intan Kemala Sari knows very well. She had been through that path until she finds a way to embrace herself as she is. The selebgram (Instagram celebrity) — although she never describes herself as such — is now considered an icon to represent plus-size women who stand proud of themselves. We talked to Intan to find out more about that.
Now you’re a selebgram and an icon for plus-size women in Indonesia. People, especially girls, look up to you. How did it all start?
First, I never proclaim myself to be such thing like selebgram. That’s what people came up with, maybe because I am active on the Instagram all these time. But I’d never call myself a selebgram; I am just a girl who likes to share pieces of her life on the platform.
At first, it was just me making use of my free time to post photos, selfies and all. I have passion in makeup, especially lipsticks, and just want to share my thoughts and photos on Instagram. But surprisingly, people started to respond and they asked about what lipstick I was wearing, where to buy the outfit and all. I found it fun and I was then encouraged to post more often, normally about myself and things I'm passionate about, and before I knew it, I’ve got many followers, and then endorsement requests followed, up until now.
In every photo, it seems like you never hold back to show the real you. How did people react to that?
Their reactions vary. There were compliments, most of them were flooding me with questions like “Oh, those dresses are so cute! Where did you get ‘em?” But some of them asked me how could I be that confident, showing my shape. And there’s a few that could be a bit mean, calling me fat, comparing me with elephants, saying that I don’t fit with certain clothing, stuff like that.
Basically, I’d never give a damn about negative things they say on the Internet. This is me, these are my photos, so it’s up to me whether I want to share it or not, and you don’t have to like it either. I really appreciate it if you do, but I’ve got nothing to lose here.
Now that you’re considered one of plus-size woman icons, how do you feel about that?
I’m really grateful to have such honor. I realize that I’m far from perfect, but I’m really glad if I can share some inspirations for plus-size ladies on how to do fashion, how to dress up and be confident just as themselves. Regardless of our appearance, I believe everyone of us has our own beauty inside.
Have you ever been bullied due to your size or body shape?
Thank God I’ve never been insulted directly. People around me respect me a lot, but there’s a lot of bullies on the Internet. Maybe because they think that I am just a stranger they don’t know and they’ll never know me anyway, so they feel it’s okay to say bad things about me or other people on social media. From what I see, those cyber bullies have one thing in common: they’re immature. Most of them are still in the secondary school. To be positive, I think they’re too young to know what they do and too young to care. The rest of them were I think just people who didn’t like what they see on the Internet, so they decided to just spit it out.
Most of the time, I ignore such bad comments; they don’t necessarily reflect me anyway. But there were times when I turn hotheaded and ended up confronting them. I remember I replied, “I’m lucky to be endorsed more often, while all you can do is bullying others...” (laughed). Well, that’s not the best of me, only when I got really pissed off. But if some people turned to be great disturbances, I usually just block them for good.
What do you think about the 'ideal girl stereotype' saying a beautiful woman should be tall and thin? Have you ever struggle with such stereotype?
Well, I think it’s all about perception and preference. There’s a stereotype saying that ideal woman should be tall, thin, got long hair and fair skin, thanks to mass media and advertisements. But I’m glad today we started to see a shift against such stereotype, as mass media and brands started to embrace women without those ideal-woman-requirements. I think, although not as much as we want, our society started to embrace big women, as well as women of colors. But that’s a good start I think.
Back in the days when I was in high school, when I was young and hadn’t really had a goal in life neither a clear idea of what I want to be, I was discouraged about my appearance and body shape. Luckily, I have supportive parents. They never treat their thin and big kids differently, nor comparing me with some friends’ kids who are slim. Well okay, they did encourage me to workout and dieting, they’re so supportive. They just accept me as what I am.
It comes to my concern that some girls who struggle with body image issues got pressure from people around them, including — and especially — their parents, who just want them to be like other thin girls. So I think having family’s support is important here.
Last question, what’s the secret to being comfortable with your own self, even if people think you’re not perfect?
Well, who is? I wouldn’t suggest every plus-sizes work out or start a diet program because that’s not what I am. I’ll be fake if I encourage people to do what I don’t do. It’s your choice whether to start dieting or workout to shed some kilograms if that makes you comfortable. But my campaign is that when you find it difficult to do anything with what you’ve got here, I mean your body, or despite your effort, it’s still hard to change the way you look, you could change the way you feel and your perspective about yourself. The more important thing is to be at peace with yourself, to be happy and love yourself, because if you don’t who will? Then it’s up to you to be whatever you want, as long as you’re comfortable as you are.