HF： HOKK Fabrica
Briefly introduce yourself.
My name is Bertha, I am a full stack writer, body positivity advocate, web developer and event producer. Since I was young, I have been struggling to fitin in Hong Kong, somewhere I can be creative and express myself, also to make a living with it. In the past 10 years I have been making small steps to create a space in this city for people who feels the same as me.
Who are some of the people who have inspired you along your journey?
B： 女強人的代表Serena Williams、#Honormycurves創辦人Honorine、@Fatgirslhiking、Everybody Yoga的作者Jessymayn
What is the role of sports in your life – how has it changed you as a person?
Learning to do sports has been a lifelong process for me, looking back now from where I started I have definitely come a long way. I learned about perseverance and resilience by making exercise a habit and as a lifestyle choice I am able to make. I also learned that doing sport is not scary at all and it benefits our wellbeing so much, overall I have become a much more positive person because of it.
Three words to describe ‘you’ working out or doing sports.
B： Calming the Chaos
Describe your body in one word and why.
Powerful – I understand how my mind and body are one and together they can do really powerful things for me.
When do you feel the most body confident?
When I am at the top of a volcano after a good hike all sweaty and I feel invincible
HF： ‘Every body is a yoga body’, 你如何看待這句話？
‘Every body is a yoga body’, what are your thoughts on this?
B： 除了無法移動身體的殘障人士，我相信不論你靈活與否，你都以瑜伽改善健康。 如果冥想也是瑜伽的一部分的話，那麼殘疾人也可以從中受益。所以對的，‘Every body is a yoga body’。
Apart from disabled folx who cannot possibly be moving their body, I believe as long as you have some mobility you can do yoga for your wellbeing. If meditation is also a part of doing yoga then I would say disabled folx can also be benefited by it so yes everybody is a yoga body.
Has yoga/ sport changed the way you feel about your body?
Yoga has definitely helped me out a great deal when I had to deal with really tense muscles that cause severe tension and pain on my body, all the stretches I learn to do have been maintaining my health for me as well. Doing other types of sports change my mindset a lot and it helps me focus and also learn to live in the moment.
HF： 在你看來，瑜伽是什麼？ 瑜伽的目的是什麼？
What is yoga to you? What is the goal of yoga as you see it?
Yoga is the yin to my yang, to me it is the balance needed after an intense workout, it helps relax my mind and to recalibrate and refocus. It keeps your head above the water in life.It is the ultimate soft and gentle exercise to nurture my body, mind and soul.
HF： 你還記得第一次接觸瑜伽嗎？ 什麼時候？怎麼樣？
Do you still recall the first time you were introduced to yoga? When and how was it?
I have always been a quite flexible and stretchy person so when I joined the gym for my first time. I looked up the yoga classes and tried them out at my gym and realised that it is the most relaxing thing I can do, especially sometimes I don’t feel like doing cardio or weight lifting so I will go for Yoga, and it always makes me feel much better after a session.
How relevant is the practice of yoga to the fast-paced, modern lifestyle, particularly in Hong Kong?
B： 我確信由於這裡的工作文化，在香港生活對於地球上任何人來說都是最緊張、壓力大的事情之一，因此，通過練習瑜伽，來學習放慢腳步，是減輕壓力的最實用、最有效的方法之一 ，而且對我們的健康也很有益。
I do believe living in Hong Kong is one of the most stressful thing to do for anyone on earth because of the working culture in here, so learning to slow down by practicing yoga is one of the most practical and efficient ways to wind down a bit, and it’s so beneficial for our overall well being.
What do you think are some of the common, incorrect assumptions about yoga?
I do think that people can get quite extreme when they find something to believe in, or getting in a great reward system for their brain when doing it, so the assumption is that once you start practicing yoga, you have to change your whole lifestyle to revolve yourself around it. Like you have to all of a sudden become spiritual or even change your diet to reflect how mindful you are to the earth… and I think it doesn’t always have to be this going all out mindset and we can definitely keep it casual too.
Share with us some of your struggles or problems faced in the journey of pursuing a sporty lifestyle.
Growing up as a city kid with parents that were never home, I didn’t get to learn any sports properly, the only thing I enjoyed was swimming and playing in the water.I was already a very chubby kid by 10 and I didn’t enjoy doing sports at all. At 15 though, I discovered skateboarding, which was the first sport that got me interested as an activity, but not having the knowledge and structure on how to do it, I torn my ligament and fractured my ankle very early into skating. On top of that, I didn’t take care of the injury which had affected my knee ever since.
With all these things happened, I took a long time off doing sports…when I was 21, I became anorexic and would go to the gym nonstop trying to lose weight, then I was hospitalised and gave up the brief lifestyle in a year. I picked it up again a few years later and this time with weight lifting to build my muscles for energy and back support. After a couple of years of going to the gym, my muscles became really stiff, so I started doing yoga then, which was really helpful for me to relief the pain on my body.
Fast forward to when I reach my early 30s, I started going hiking regularly and that’s when I finally enjoy doing cardio which helped me with my mental strength tremendously, and having the knowledge of some yoga routines I finally realised the importance of doing regular exercise, also it is a lifetime commitment as it is crucial for maintaining a good chemicals balance in the brain which improves our overall mental health and wellbeing.
What is your relationship to your own body? How has this changed over time?
I have always felt about my body growing up as a fat kid in Hong Kong. Just like many others, no matter what size they are, I have been called all sorts of names and bullied by family members and friends for their entertainment. The worst is not having the role models, encouragement and guidance I needed, and I was made to believe that I was never going to be good enough if I look like this. I experienced years and years of being treated as undesired and unwanted from people around me, but on the other hand, I had really large breasts which made me an obvious target from male gaze and sexual harassment, it enhanced my body dysmorphia and was causing me years of eating disorders. In the last 5 years though, I learned a great deal about body autonomy and body positivity, and finally I am able to embrace my body shape and slowly shift my focus onto other things that are more important to me in my life. So, yeah, I didn’t have a good relationship with my body, nor my mind and I have spent the past 20 years trying to get out of it. And to be honest, even as a body positivity advocate, sometimes I cannot help but feel bad about myself being in a fat phobic society, but now I have a more positive mindset and the tools to quickly turn around and not getting too affected by it.
HF： 尤其是在亞洲，你如何看待身體形象問題？ 你觀察到社會有著哪些規範？
What are your thoughts on the issue of body image particularly in Asia? What social norms do you observe?
B： 在許多原因驅使之下，身體形象問題在亞洲地區有著更深層次的影響，也影響著各個年齡段的人。 但是，無論在世界上哪個國家/地區，社會規範都非常相似：年輕、有能力、苗條、皮膚白皙，這些都是歧視和階級主義問題。更甚，當在媒體上幾乎只有一種類型的身體形象，我們其實是將這種偏見歸一化為社會規範，這也創造了現今世界的有毒文化。
Body image issues impact much more people at all ages and at a much deeper level in Asia because of many reasons. However, the social norm is very similar no matter which country it is in the world – being young, able, slim, having fair skin and these are discrimination and classism issues.With almost only 1 type of body image being seen and celebrated in the media as well, we normalise the bias as the social norm which created this extreme toxic culture in the world nowadays.
HF： What does feminism and femininity mean to you in 2020?
Feminism has always meant to be fighting for equality for me, I have always been a feminist since young, knowing my gender has nothing to do with my ability to thrive, and as I get older, I experience the disparity and lack of support in the corporate environment and that’s when I understand fighting for equality is not to show them we can be the same, but to use our femininity as our best tool to do things with love, empathy and softness and eventually change the toxic environment we are in by our influences.
All women are now judged by their size, be it being too thin or too fat. What are your thoughts on this?
Although womxn are the primary targets in society facing body shaming, we need to acknowledge that anyone with any gender or sex are also facing the same problem in the society nowadays, but maybe in different context. Men will also be body shamed for not big enough, tall enough, not well-endowed enough etc, a trans person can be facing body shaming that they are not gender conforming enough according to their sex change. A disabled person can be shamed for not able enough in comparison to someone who has an able body. Body shaming is basically objectifying and humiliating a person’s body based on their own bias and believes, instead of accepting that all bodies are equal and not one is more superior than another.
When it comes to fat shaming and skinny shaming, they are both unacceptable, however, one valid point is that a person being skinny shamed will not affect the outcome of say, her getting a job or reaching certain status in society, however a person being fat shame could easily affect their abilities to earn a better wage or getting any opportunities which are affected by the biased decision one could make when it comes to hiring a “capable” person.
‘You are so much more than a body type’, how much do you agree with that?
I agree with it 100%, we are taught by society to think that our body is everything, and as explained in the body image question, we are judged by our body as it may reflect our social status, our abilities or age that all affects many social interactions we have in life, however, when it comes to real abilities to advance in life for personal growth, the body is not the only thing that matters, it’s the mind and soul we have, it’s the determination, the perseverance, resilience, empathy and kindness we need, it also has a lot to do with our intelligence which have nothing to do with out body type, so yes I 100% agree with this statement.
HF： 通常將較大的身體描述為不健康的。 你認為健康有不同的體態嗎？
Larger bodies are typically portrayed as being unhealthy. Do you think there are different ways ‘healthy’ can look?
B： 沒有人可以通過看別人的身體而知道一個人的健康狀況，甚至乎醫生也需要檢查和檢測才了解那個人的情況。 人們會假設，如果一個身體看起來像是某種狀態，便會將其跟疾病聯繫一起。沒有人能辨別他們處於哪個康復的階段，這也就是為什麼我主張身體自愛運動，以使我們能從這種偏見中脫身。同樣，如果有人認為肥胖等於100％不健康，那麼他們會自動有一個觀點－－一個苗條的身材等於100％健康，這在許多層面上都是荒謬的。
No one can tell a person’s health status by looking at them, even a doctor needs to examine and test a person’s vitality to understand what is going on with the person. People assume if a body looks a certain way it will then make it relative to having illnesses. Nobody can tell which stage of recovery they are, so this is why I advocate for body positivity in order to set us free from this biased belief. Also if a person thinks fat equals 100% unhealthy, then they automatically form an opinion that a slim body equals 100% healthy, which is ridiculous on many levels.
Do you feel that it is a major misconception that most women who workout are often unhappy with their bodies and are on a mission to be thin?
I can see in the past couple of years, there are more womxn focusing on muscle and core training and not only chasing one type of body type they desire. For example, I see more women doing weight lifting or cross fit training so I think the perception of beauty has definitely changed over time and also due to the heavy social media influence from the west.
Can you share with us a message for women out there struggling with body image problems?
B： 我們必須承認並意識到，我們對身體和外表的感覺是生活其中一面，而達到社會美麗標準是一種社會建構。由於在父權制度下，婦女受到了嚴重的物化，屈從於這種觀念只會使我們無法發揮自己真正能力和無法成為自己。如果你因為自己的外表、因為將自己和其他人比較，而感到不快樂，請問問自己為什麼要投入如此多的精力在這之上。記住這就好了，追求健身是為了自己的健康和讓自己有精神去做自己喜歡的事情，它並不是改變身體的工具，因為這樣代表你希望獲得外界的認可，而不是想要從內在培養自愛 。
We have to acknowledge and realise that the feeling we have towards our body and appearance being one of the most important aspects to focus on in life, thinking success only comes from being up to the societal beauty standard is a social construct. Women are being objectified heavily because of our patriarchal systems, and succumbing to that will only hold us back from our real abilities to thrive and be ourselves. If you find yourself feeling unhappy because of your appearance because you are comparing yourself to others, question yourself why you put so much energy and effort into it. Just remember, pursuing Fitness is for your own wellbeing and for having energy to go through your day doing what you love, it is not a tool to alter your body because you want to get validation from the outside world instead of cultivating self love from within.