Jazzy Tasdelen, 39, lives with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and lupus.

“My husband and I started trying for a baby in 2012. I had assumed I would get pregnant immediately, so when it didn’t happen, I consulted a fertility specialist. I was diagnosed with PCOS. Subsequently, I was also diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease. They are considered silent illnesses – I may seem fine on the outside, but on the inside, there’s a lot going on.

The diagnosis allowed a huge weight to be lifted off my shoulders. I’d gained a substantial amount of weight in my 20s and 30s and, no matter how much I exercised, I was unable to shed the kilos. I’d thought that I was doing something wrong, but I now know it was actually beyond my control. It wasn’t because I was lazy or unhealthy – it was because of hormones. This made me stop hating my body.

I started going to the gym and lifting heavy weights. This gave me a mental breakthrough, and enabled me to not only experience body acceptance, but also love my body. The day I first lifted 120kg was one of the proudest days of my life. It made me realise that being strong was more important than being small. It made me realise that, with motivation and dedication, I can achieve what I set out to do, regardless of my weight.

It took us seven years of IVF to be able to have a baby. I gained 10kg within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and, besides suffering from morning sickness the entire time, I also couldn’t find maternity clothes that fit me. I felt horrible, but I also felt guilty because I was pregnant and feeling bad about how I looked, while other women still struggled with infertility. And as soon as my baby was born, I felt the pressure to lose weight.

Everyone has insecurities, and if you’re struggling to accept your body, you ought to know that you’re not alone.

I decided to stop congratulating people on the weight they’ve lost or the way they look, and only congratulate them on their determination to make changes that make them happy. It’s important that we change the language around body acceptance – we need to make it more about health instead of size. The one major factor in changing the way we think about our bodies is rewarding ourselves for what our bodies can do, not for how they look.

I still have days when I look in the mirror and have a cry, but it’s OK to have a bad day. I’d like to say that I love myself 100 percent, and while I don’t, I definitely love myself 95 per cent now. My body is incredible. It’s silently fighting PCOS and lupus. It grew a tiny human. It carries me. My body can hug, kiss and lift weights. It’s awesome.”

PHOTOGRAPHY Vee Chin
STYLING Debby Kwong
ART DIRECTION Adeline Eng
HAIR Ann Lin
MAKEUP Lolent Lee & Eunice Wong