This is something that has been brewing in me for years and this post has been brewing for months. I usually keep topics on my blog fairly light and superficial but this is something I want to talk about. It's personal for me and I'm sure there must be girls out there that can relate. I have avoided posting about this topic in fear of offending someone when in turn I'm the one being offended time and again. I feel like it's time I said something.
I have been petite, skinny, slender, slight, thin (deathly thin - yes, someone called me that once), scrawny, gaunt, a toothpick - whatever name you have for it, for my whole life. For whatever reason my gene pool is full of tadpoles instead of big beautiful fish. Being an organically skinny girl has been interesting. I am comfortable with my body, my size and my image but it seems that many others are not. It never ceases to amaze me the kinds of things people will say to my face, let alone when I can not hear.
Even after all these years I can not wrap my head around the fact that someone (and I'll tell you, it's many someones) feels it's appropriate to tell me I'm too thin. You would never approach an overweight woman and tell her she is too heavy or that she should lose some weight. How rude! Why then is it ok to take me by the hand and tell me to eat more, or tell me you are worried about my health. It is not acceptable to voice your concern that I am too skinny or that you'd like to see me "put on a couple pounds." I have seen the looks, I have heard the whispers and I am fully aware that some people think I have a problem. There are also those that assume because I'm petite I have no idea what body image issues are. Imagine for a moment what it would be like to be stuck in a 13 year old's body forever. Granted, it's not quite like that but I do get an inferiority complex when I stand next to tall, beautiful, curvy women. Always being the twerp in the room gets old. Shopping in the youth department has it's perks but having a ladies small (or xs) still be too big is discouraging. And do you know how hard it is to stay warm? I am not trying to paint the picture that being thin is a trial but I do believe that many woman don't see it from our view, they just think we're skinny and we've got it made.
I was so angered while watching Ellen one afternoon (I've since forgiven her - love Ellen) as she commented that clothes in size zero should not even be made. Her argument was that it only encourages girls to try and be thinner and that it perpetuates eating disorders. I shouted at the TV, "NOT ALL GIRLS THAT WEAR A SIZE ZERO HAVE AN EATING DISORDER!" It is views like that I am talking about, that we are only this thin if we are unhealthy. I do nothing to stay this size and in fact I have to do some things to maintain this size. I would not say I have never experienced any eating related issues, in fact I have. Through much of junior high and high school I had a fear of eating in front of people. In social settings I would sit and push food around my plate, cut it into tiny bite size pieces or find some excuse not to eat it at all. These are similar signs to that of an eating disorder but I assure you it was social anxiety, not anorexia. It was a fear of having food on my face, something stuck in my teeth, or being spoken to with a mouth full. I would be able to chew but not swallow, sitting there with a knot in my stomach. It was not an eating disorder, it was a type of social phobia, not something great for a skinny girl to have. I struggled with this for years and I know it fueled speculation but through friends and actually a really great boyfriend I was able to overcome it and now while dining in social settings it doesn't even cross my mind. There was also a period in high school that for whatever reason I had convinced myself that going to bed hungry was some kind of power trip - a mind over matter accomplishment. It was foolish and I soon realized that going to bed with a bowl of cereal or a piece of toast in my tummy was a much better idea. I think we all go through phases of trying to take charge of our lives, and it was nothing more than that. I am sharing this to illustrate that these issues had nothing to do with my size, or weight. I believe they were natural growing pains and how unfair that something serious like anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa be attached to them. There are other causes of 'thin-ness' than these painful diseases. Like say, your natural shape.
I feel it is ignorant for a thin person to be labelled with a "problem" while others who walk around carrying extra weight legitimately do have a problem. The stress those extra pounds put on your system is concerning. It is not my intention to offend those that struggle with weight gain but when pointing the finger at who is 'unhealthy,' I ask you to please not point at me. Women come in all shapes and sizes, and that's a beatiful thing. We should celebrate our bodies, regardless of how much they weigh. It is my argument that it is socially acceptable to outwardly comment on a thin person's body when you would never dream of saying something to someone who is obese. I am not talking about the, "that dress looks great on you, you skinny mini," or the "man, if I was as thin as you..." comments. I don't expect people to ignore it altogether, and I am the first to poke fun at my being a lil bitty. What I am referring to are the comments of supposed concern and worry and the remarks of, "you need to eat more!" I am tired of defending the absence of an eating disorder in my life. It's when it's assumed I have an issue that I take offence. Perhaps you are wondering why I care what other people think and why I let what they say bother me. I can appreciate that and to some extent I don't care. But when someone tells you to go "eat another sandwich," it is harder to ignore.
I want to raise awareness on behalf of skinny girls (and gentlemen) everywhere. Not because I think you inconsiderately tell the thin people in your life to stop throwing up their meals, but because some of the things people say could be said in a different way. That, "you're so skinny, I hate you!" isn't really a compliment. It is possible the person you are talking to can do nothing about her size. I want to bring to light that like being overweight, being underweight isn't without it's inconveniences either. It's good form to be respectful of both.
I don't know how else to conclude other than to say I am a healthy 100 pound woman and I eat. A lot actually. And I know there are others like me.
I would appreciate your feedback.
*Examples given are things that have actually been said to me.
**Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa are serious disorders and in no way am I trying to discredit those individuals that struggle with these illnesses. I have seen their grips in my personal circle and can attest to the legitimate anguish they cause.