March 27, 2014

Skinny people have feelings too!

To those who think they can make remarks about a skinny person’s weight without hurting their feelings, let me assure you it’s not true.

I’ve had women, on occasion, make remarks about my weight.  Most remarks are about how I could stand to put on a few pounds and others have been in response to my own thoughts of wanting to eat better and exercise.  In addition to being hurt, I was shocked to realize how narrow minded and ignorant these women must be.  It’s as if they can’t fathom the idea of a skinny person having cellulite or loose skin?  It makes me feel like I have to convince them I am not anorexic or have distorted thoughts about my body image. In fact, I’m very realistic in relevance to my own appearance.  I’ve never had an eating disorder and never thought I was overweight when I wasn’t.  In fact, at this very moment, I am too skinny.  And this is not my first time.  I’ve been underweight a handful of times throughout my life due to illness.  My weight has always fluctuated between 90 - 98 lbs. To put things in perspective, I am only 4’11 and 3/4.  Occasionally, maybe twice, it’s been below 90 and above 100 lbs.  Right now I’m only 88 lbs., and I’m trying my hardest to pack on the weight.  I feel healthiest anywhere between 95-97 lbs.  With that said, I have a lot of work ahead of me.

SKINNY PEOPLE HAVE FEELINGS TOO

SKINNY PEOPLE HAVE FEELINGS TOO VIA CROPPED STORIES

IT TAKES HARD WORK AND EFFORT TO GAIN WEIGHT

I hate to assume, but I’d have to be pretty naive to think there aren’t people out there that are probably thinking something along the lines of “woe is me” or “cry me a river” at what I’ve chosen to title this paragraph as if it weren’t true.  Let me remind you, this isn’t a competition. Sure, I don’t know how difficult it is to have to lose weight, but I’d never compare the two, and I most certainly wouldn’t discount anyone’s feelings.  I empathize with both the underweight and overweight equally.  

So, here it goes. I wake up every day and have to fight with myself to eat. Not only am I not hungry, but most foods, the thought of them and the actual consumption of them, make me nauseous.  This is also true for liquids.  Drinking is just as difficult for me as it is to eat food.  In fact, most drinks, even water, make me either nauseous as well or, worse, give me stomach aches that have me hightailing it to the nearest bathroom.  Not a pretty sight, but I can’t paint you a partial picture and expect you to understand.  And just when I’m done consuming one meal, It takes at least a couple of hours to talk myself into being hungry, or in the mood, for the next meal.  My portions are usually very small and don’t consist of a wide variety of foods.  To ensure I am getting the nutrients essential to keep me healthy, I’ve been relying on my multivitamin.  It’s a constant battle.  And even with my consistent effort, the weight continues to take it’s time showing up on the scale. I can’t understand for the life of me that even when I know I’ve been eating better than the previous month that, instead of gaining, I lost additional weight.  I’m dumbfounded and impatient.  Then before I know it, I’m frustrated, hopeless, angry, and depressed.  What’s worse is that my future is predictable.  I’ll wake up tomorrow and have to do it again. From experience, I know it will take, at the very least, months to get back to my target weight.

Now, does this sound easy to you?  Fun?  Effortless?

BEING SKINNY DOESN’T EQUAL HAPPINESS

I feel like a lot of people think they can make remarks about a skinny person’s weight because they think a skinny person is automatically happy.  It’s as if a skinny person wanting to exercise is immediately translated into “I need to exercise to lose weight.” Like I mentioned in my previous paragraph, that’s not the reason I want to exercise.  Most of the time, it’s to feel healthy, energetic, build muscle, and to tone the areas that tend to carry more weight than the rest of my body.  Even when you are skinny, parts of your body carry more weight than others.  Examples of these body parts include your glutes (particularly the lower part of the gluteus muscles that merge into the back of the upper thigh), the back of the upper arm, otherwise known as your triceps, the lower belly, and the sides of the upper thighs.  I think now is a good time to recap some of the benefits of exercising.  Benefits other than to lose weight may include:

1. maintaining your weight,
2. building muscle (which is essentially weight),
3. increasing your energy,
4. toning up,
5. strengthening your heart with cardio,
6. enhancing flexibility,
7. reducing stress, and
8. improving quality of life. 

AND WHAT’S WITH THE DOUBLE STANDARDS?

More importantly, can we rise above them?  So society says it’s socially acceptable to be skinny.  In fact, skinny usually equates to beautiful.  Just look at our current models or the ones that are competing in some of today’s most popular modeling TV series like America’s Next Top Model with Tyra Banks and The Face with Naomi Campbell.  Personally, a woman can be as skinny as she wants, but I don’t think that automatically makes her beautiful.  In fact, some of the girls on these shows I consider average at most.  If I had the chance to have Kate Moss’s body or Marilyn Monroe’s, I would choose, without hesitation, to sport the curves of Marilyn’s full figured frame.  

HYPOTHETICAL CIRCUMSTANCE 1 

Imagine, as a skinny person myself, I made a remark to an overweight friend that she go to the gym or on a diet.  Maybe, at a family gathering, I tell an obese cousin she should skip dessert or the reason she’s sweating so profusely is because she’s carrying all that extra weight and she’s out of shape.  Maybe I could be so blunt as to bark at an overweight stranger on the street to move her fat ass so the rest of us can get by.  CAN YOU IMAGINE?  I shudder to think of the people out there that have the audacity to say things of this nature.  I’ve never even used the word “fat” and there I was witnessing this abuse.  Haven’t they ever heard of the saying “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.”  Something tells me they have, they just don’t care!  It would be easy and almost justified calling someone who insulted an overweight person a “bitch” or a “bastard."  I realize, the profanity wouldn’t be necessary, but as a person witnessing it, I feel like those words would have the most impact!  In fact, I’m sure most people would find that defending an overweight or obese stranger would be worthy of appraise, applause, or, at the very least, an admirable act of compassion.

Okay, it’s time for a 180.  

ACTUAL EVENTS 1 - 3 

Based on my own experiences…

I walk into a store and the sales clerk asks me what size I am to assist me in finding a dress for a special occasion.  I say, “zero” and the next thing I know I’m dead on the floor.  Well almost.  If looks could kill, I would have been.  It’s not like I flaunted my size zero waist with spandex or walked in with my bikini on. In fact, I was more than happy looking for clothes on my own.  She asked; all I did was answer.  The rest of my shopping experience in that store was very unpleasant as the sales clerk brought armfuls of larger sized dresses to my dressing room insisting I try them on and that they would fit.  Let’s just say she was a hell bent on letting me know that either I wasn’t a size zero or didn’t look like one.  Like, who was I kidding?  Apparently I needed to be smacked off my high horse.  The one I had no idea I rode in on.  I ended up walking out.  

At a family BBQ, someone makes a remark along the lines of “good for you; you’re eating dessert!"  The implications were many. One, was that I make it a habit to skip dessert. That couldn’t be further from the truth and this person was well aware of that.  Two, was that I could use the fat and calories because, obviously, I was too skinny according to them.  Lastly, I was afraid that the members of the family that didn’t know me well, as the remark was made publicly, might think of me as shallow and that weight was the only thing on my mind.  This made my blood boil.  Even if this remark was made from genuine concern and not intended to be hurtful, it still implies that the person thinks I’m too skinny.  Have they ever considered I may be thinking the very same thing about myself?  Or did I confuse them when I didn’t sit in the corner of the yard all antisocial acting sad and depressed like I hated myself? Do I  need to do that for them to believe I  do have issues with my body image?  I shouldn’t have to prove anything to anyone.  Nobody should.

I make mention to an acquaintance that I’m going to start exercising. Before I can even get the entire word “exercising” out of my mouth, she immediately pipes up and responds with “What do you want to do; waste away to nothing?” and “You don’t need to exercise!”  My first thought was “why not just call me a bag of bones”? Did I mention I’m not a big fan of people who assume they know why a person chooses to exercise.  And to voice her opinion with such certainty that she knew what was better for me than ME was not only inappropriate, but none of her business.  What’s she’s done here is disguised an insult with what someone may mistake for genuine concern.  It almost makes the person that has been insulted questioning the insulter’s motives.  If I snapped back and defended myself, I could easily risk looking like a bitch, and if I didn’t do anything at all, I risk earning the reputation of a doormat.  It’s a no win situation.

When an overweight person makes a hurtful remark to a skinny person, I feel like it’s tolerated by society and the person at the receiving end more than when a skinny person makes a hurtful remark to an overweight person.  Society continues to make it worse for the skinny and malnourished.  They’ve made it easy for people, most of which are women, to be angry with us by consistently introducing unrealistic standards of beauty.  They’ve also taken our freedom to defend ourselves without being stereotyped as a bitch, insensitive, and ungrateful.  We must be bitches if we can’t understand how lucky we are to be skinny, even if we are malnourished and unhealthy.  And while there are bitches out there let’s remember they are not all skinny.  Bitches come in every race, color, and weight class.  As long as society keeps putting us up on pedestals, it’s human nature for the ones that aren’t on those pedestals to want to tear us down.  What the ones that sit below these non existent pedestals refuse to see is that we didn’t put ourselves up there.  I can’t speak for all skinny people here, but I don’t think I belong on a pedestal.  In fact, I don’t believe anyone belongs up there!  I have a healthy sense of confidence, but I have to work at it constantly like now when I’m undernourished, too skinny, and unhappy with the way I look. Before you make a remark to a skinny person, I hope you've considered they may have an underlying reason for their weight such as diseases like Anorexia, Bulimia, Cancer, Depression, Anxiety, to name a few.  Just because they may look healthy, are well dressed and groomed, doesn’t say anything about what they looked and felt like yesterday or what tomorrow has in store for them.  Even unhealthy people have good days.  Never assume a skinny person is confident.  Never assume a skinny person is healthy.  Never assume they’ve had an easy life.  And never make hurtful remarks to anyone. 

Sometimes what people are on the inside is completely opposite of what they choose to show the world on the outside.  If you walked past me on the street, you’d see a 5 foot, 95 lb. girl.  I have dark brown hair and eyes.  On most days, my body is proportioned and body mass index is where it’s supposed to be.  I choose clothes that flatter my figure.  I enjoy putting makeup on and having my hair colored.  I like the occasional manicure and pedicure.  If someone I knew were to describe me, she or he would probably say I was cute, beautiful, pretty, ethnic, or petite.  And while most days I have a healthy sense of confidence, there are those times, like now at 88 lbs., that I feel ugly, malnourished, bony, unmotivated, tired, hopeless, and depressed.  I just hide it well.

So I’m skinny; GET OVER IT, 'cause I’m sure trying to. 

If you can relate or reassure me I’m not alone, please feel free to let me know.  I’d love to hear about it; maybe we can help each other.

18 comments :

  1. Really thoughtful post Elena! I just have to say that I can empathize with the comments. I'm 5'3" and roughly 115lbs on a good day. I went though all of my high school and college days being around 95lbs. I simply could not gain. I was 25 before I broke 100. I tried, I really tried. I had so many people say with disgust, "You are sooooo skinny!" Or grabbing my wrists, "Ew, you are so skinny!" The "Ew" really hurt. I was called skinny mini or other nicknames. I was urged to eat. I did eat. I drank protein shakes. I simply could do no more. I hated feeling like less of a woman because of my size. Even today there are all those comments about how real men like curves and dogs like bones. There is double standard. A skinny woman could never get away with picking on the overweight like than. I took my until my 30s to feel confident with my size. I have shape, and curves. I'm finally happy with being me. I probably was all along, but the others made me to feel that something was wrong or ugly about me. That takes a toll. I'm happy that I can wear almost anything. And enjoy being small. My kids are tiny, and I'm working hard to give them self esteem. Even my parents got in on the act of weight comments, so I'm careful to build mine up. The focus should just be on health. We are all made uniquely. Thank you for writing this, I really think most people don't understand how skinny people can be offended by weight comments. Bottom line is to treat others the way you want to be treated no matter what.

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  2. Love this girl, I've been underweight ever since my last pregnancy and I've heard comments like that.. I just respond with "Hey, being healthy is what matters and that's what I'm trying to do" :)

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  3. I LOVED this post! I'm 5'2" and now weigh 103. I eat very healthy, I exercise and guess what? I have VERY high cholesterol. A person can do everything right and still have high cholesterol. Last summer I was told about the cholesterol and my dr. wanted to put me on pills. I decided to try to lower it thru diet/exercise and started a running program. I dropped 10 pounds. We'll see what the cholesterol is when I go back to the doctor in June. Anyway, being thin doesn't equate to being happy.

    I've been discriminated against because I'm thin. I don't like my legs, or my nose or my teeth. But I've had people say to me "So what, at least you're skinny." What does that mean? Like I'm supposed to be happy with my life because I'm skinny?

    So here it is - I am who I am. I try to be nice to everyone unless they give me a reason to not be nice. If someone doesn't like me based on the fact that I'm skinny, that is the same as me not liking someone based on them being overweight. In either instance, it's wrong. If people would stop judging others based on their look, this would be a much happier world. And if someone doesn't like the way they look, then they should spend their time trying to do something about it instead of spending their time trying to pick me apart for looking the way I do.

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  4. Elena you said this perfectly. I am 5'2" and have always been between 100 and 110 lbs. It is just my body type and metabolism and yes I have heard all of the above and then some. Not sure what the double standard is and even have had my doctor (who had me throughout two pregnancies) make me feel badly for being on the lower end of the scale. I truly and not sure why people have to treat those of us that have smaller frames this way,b ut you can shake my hand, because yes this has been an issue for me, too. Hugs to you and know you aren't alone on this in the least.

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  5. I hope you feel better soon. It's hard not to be able to eat. I actually have had an eating disorder though it had not reared it's head in 15 years, last year I went on a "lose the baby fat diet" and realized when I woke up one morning that I didn't need to eat if I didn't want to. I thought about it for a few minutes, it actually made me feel a sense of euphoria, then I realized what I was doing. I couldn't believe I was there again. I thought that was all behind me in my very early teens. I had to give it to the Lord and ask Him to help me make good choices. So, while I have never experienced your side of the pain and struggle with food. I can appreciate it. I am sorry people have been insensitive to you. You have a beautiful face too, I am sure it does make some people jealous and that never brings out the best in anyone. Blessings on you and your family. May you be healthy and joyful, Charlie

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  6. Bravo! Ok, so I am not skinny but I am tired of all the "motivation" poster putting down skinny people. Skinny has become almost as bad a word as anorexic or bulimic. Once upon a time I was skinny and could not gain weight to save my life. Then I developed thyroid problem and became hypothyroid so that made me gain weight. So it is a constant weight battle. Yet I have been on both sides and it pains me when I hear some of the things people say about skinny people. One of my nieces is very skinny. She does not try; she just is and even some of her family members give her a hard for this. So THANK YOU for writing about the skinny side of the story.

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  7. AMEN, sister! So glad somebody finally said it. There's such a stigma surrounding being underweight, and few people actually want to believe that it can be a legitimate medical condition (as in my case)-- just like obesity. Great post, really enjoyed reading this! Stop by my blog if you get the chance.. I'm doing a spring giveaway! :)

    xo,
    Stephanie
    Diary of a Debutante
    www.thediaryofadebutante.com

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  8. Elena, I literally just thought about you and your blog the other day! I can really appreciate your post, because I too am naturally thin and have trouble keeping weight on. It takes such work a lot of the time. For me, I'm 5'6 1/2" and weight around 121-122ish, hopefully not less (I haven't weighed myself in over a month). In my adult life, prior to having my son, I was always between 125-127. Three or four pounds may not seem like a big deal, but on me it really makes a difference. My frame is muscular, so that helps to fill me out, but if I loose weight I loose muscle, because its all I have. People assume that because your thin, your life it perfect. They assume they can make comments about your weight, and that its not as painful as it would be for someone who's overweight. Fortunately, I do love food and eating isn't as much of a struggle for me as it is for you. My main issue these days is taking time out for myself and make sure that I do eat, because I'm at home taking care of my son full-time. I used to be way more active prior to having my son, and the cold winter weather hasn't helped. Nonetheless, I understand how you feel and hope that you can get back to a healthy weight that you're happy with. :-)

    Tenns @ New Mama Diaries

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  9. I totally understand you
    I am right now in my perfect weight which is 52 kilos and I am 5'3 or 1.60
    when I was like 18 years old I was 48-47 kilos, and I hated it and I hated my body and everybody will tell me I am too thin, even now some people do, but I don't care I love my body as it is...
    I used to make a smoothie, pasta, cerelac (this is a cereal for babies) milk, and bananas and it helped, you have to eat several times a day
    I hope you get to that perfect weight for you, I know how difficult it is for people with this kind of metabolism to gain weight....good luck

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  10. Oh my!! I know exactly how you feel! After my first son was born I lost a lot of weight! Like 20kg within a couple of weeks. It wasn't on purpose. Something was off in my body. Im 5'3 and weighed about 90lbs. people even friends were very hurtful in their comments. They didn't understand how unhappy I was or how I had NO energy. I was even having tests done to figure out why this was happening! I wish society would just educate themselves more on the facts!

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  11. Welcome back Elena! This is a great post. I can't tell you how many times relatives have made comments to me, especially back in the days when I was running a lot. You make a lot of good points here and I hope the people that make these kind of comments read this and "see" themselves in it and change their ways!

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  12. Stopping by from the LOBS. When I was about 13 or so I had a summer camp counselor who was very fit. Being teenagers and very aware of bodies, we would comment on her skinniness (not as an insult, I think more out of admiration). She told us she did not like the word skinny and considered it an insult. That has really stuck with me over the years. I think as a society we do tend to make judgements about people who are both overweight and underweight, but somehow it is more acceptable for people who want to lose weight to share their struggles, versus someone who is underweight trying to gain weight. I have a good friend who is very slim, but eats well and is in shape, tell me recently that she lost a lot of weight out of nowhere, and her and her doctor were concerned. While perhaps in the back of my head I wished sometimes I were as slim as she, on the other hand I'm grateful that this isn't something that I have had to struggle with. Thank you for sharing your perspective! This is something we all need to hear more about.

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  13. I read your post and felt how genuine and hurt you are... skinny or not we are all human beings going through our own challenges and journey and it is just unacceptable to intrude into other people's journey with judgement and unsolicited advice.
    Thank you for being open. this was a solid true post.
    Passing by from ladies only blog
    Marwa @ Blossomfamily.net

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  14. great post! I really appreciate it! I've always been "skinny" not a size zero (I'm 5'9" - that might be crazy for me), but I have received many eye roll when i say I'm going to start running, or whatever. It doesn't really bother me, but just like super short people and super tall people hate people making the obvious comments about their height, it's the same for skinny people. And I do think that somehow overweight people think it's okay to pick on skinny people, but I think it stems more from jealousy. Either way, thanks for addressing a topic that is not often talked about. May God bless you in your journey for contentment with yourself.

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  15. SO glad someone finally wrote a post about something like this! I'm really tired of seeing the curvey girls are better than skinny girls stuff everywhere. Instead of tearing people apart to feel better about themselves, wouldn't it be great if people could instead say they are happy in their own skin. I've always been harassed about my weight. I've never thought I was fat or needed to diet and quite honestly I don't watch what I eat at all. I just don't gain weight. Never have been able to. I'm 5'7" and only 120lbs. I've worked really hard to get up to that weight. In high school I was just under 100lbs...not because I wanted to be but because I couldn't gain weight. Any time I say I want to start going to the gym or working out I get the " but your so thin" "you're going to waste away to nothing" comments. Just because I'm thin does not mean I am in shape!! Again, sooo happy you wrote this post. It has been on my mind a lot lately.

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  16. Anna has gone bananasApril 14, 2014 at 10:12 AM

    Hi there. I have been skinny all my life, its just genetics, my dad and his family are all skinny. I eat healthily and have no physical or mental diseases. And I go for regular check ups with different doctors and so I know I am healthy. But all my life, I had to deal with peoples comments - "Are you anorexic", "oh my god you so skinny - you should eat more", "that muffin is as big as you are", the list is endless. Apart from the physical bullying, I had to deal with things like not being allowed to join the girls cricket team at school. Over the years, I have developed body image issues, severe low self esteem and have become socially withdrawn and depressed. I wanted to gain muscle weight but I cannot afford a gym here in South Africa and trying on my own does not work. People dont understand that we are all born loving ourselves until someone says you're too fat/thin, short/tall, dark/ fair. It makes you become negatively conscious of yourself. I think people believe its ok to make comments at skinny people because the media has decided that slim women are beautiful, so when people see someone who is too slim, they think that this person has consciously done something to become skinny, so they need to eat more or fix their mental health problems like annorexia (which is funny as some anorexics are overweight!). They have no idea how it hurts and what they do to someone. I am healthy, skinny but actually I have curves because I am 1.52 cm tall so its not like my weight is being so drastically stretched out, I also have fat cheeks. But all my life - all the world has ever told me is that I am ugly and a misft.

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  17. WOW I can relate to most of your post. I have been underweight most of my life. My average weight until I hit the age of 35 was 109 and I am 5'4". 9 months pregnant I weighted 130lbs and lost the weight within a week of having my kids. I don't usually have an appetite and often forget to eat. Food don't make me sick or nauseous but I just dont want it. I can drink liquid all day long. People would say the meanest comments. "Are you anorexic?" "Do you ever eat?" "You need to put meat on your bones." "Don't let the wind blow too hard, you'll blow away."

    I don't go around saying anything to others about their weight. And they don't know the demons I fight inside to get to a healthy weight. I hated my body image and would not even let my husband see me naked. So, like I said, I know your pain and how you feel. I now am a healthy weight, 130 but only got here by going on a "diet" and eating 3 real full meals a day. It got old fast but I am holding on somehow. I have blogged about this once and found so many had the same issues but since society focuses on "you need to be skinny" they never spoke up. I am glad to see more bloggers standing up and saying something. Prayers!!

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  18. Oh my gosh. I can relate to this EXACTLY. I've been in this same boat forever. I've been thinking about writing a post about my perspective as well, but I'm so scared of sounding insensitive to overweight people. I just want the world to know that it's not all sunshine and rainbows being small. I really like the way you approached talking about it.

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