The Skinny

Standard

102 this morning. No, not a fever – my weight. 5’7. Calculate it for yourself, BMI standards label me as severely underweight. I’m healthy, I chase a toddler around all day, I’m active, and I eat – regularly, often, large portions, I love food.

I’ve always been this skinny, I’ve always had bones jutting out in every direction. I’ve always had bigger women tell me how jealous they are of my metabolism, and I’ve always heard many of those same bigger women talk about curves being mandatory for sex appeal.

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That’s me, in all of my skinny glory. I’ve been called anorexic, bulimic, a tweaker, a stick, a twig, gross, Skeletor… I have no self esteem issues about what people have called me. I don’t care if some people think the shape of my body makes me unattractive. I landed the only man I care to impress, no one else’s opinion really matters to me.

He’s perfectly ok with my ribs showing, my spine showing, tendons in my wrists and ankles sticking out, my bony bottom sitting on his lap. That’s all that matters to me. But this hate on skinny in general is really disheartening.

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I can’t even begin to find a true source of this image, or the rest in this post for that matter. If you’ve been anywhere other than under a rock the past few years, you’ve seen these or something like them.

I’m just amazed at this dichotomy between curvy and bony, fat and skinny. No one wants to be judged negatively on their own weight, yet so many are seemingly content pegging their size as the “optimal” size, while criticizing others for being a bag of bones or a butterball. And it’s not even just a recent thwart to overcome the stigmas placed on women by size 0 models and actresses.

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It would seem that skinny girls have been told they’re too skinny just as long as fat girls have been told they’re too fat.

What’s that? “Fat” is a little too insensitive of a word for you? Then stop letting skinny get tossed around like a cuss word. It feels as much like a war on skinny as a bar full of frat boys feels like a war on fat for the girl with the most predominant curves. It hurts just the same.

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Dogs? Really? You see pictures and quotes like these posted on things like Facebook and Pinterest followed by some clever comment like, “LOL! So true! Real women have curves.” What’s that make the rest of them? Am I a fake woman? Am I a man? A little boy?

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I understand potential health implications of being very big or very small, and I’m not undermining the fact that some people should work towards being healthier, but I also understand that there is no “one size fits all” where women’s bodies are concerned, regarding health or attraction. It is very hurtful to imply that a girl who is too skinny or too fat or too whatever is automatically less attractive, less of a woman, than another.

If we all want women to be happy, healthy, and confident, we need to stop focusing on their shapes, stop making comparisons to other shapes, and stop finding reasons why one would be better than another. Not all skinny women starve themselves, just like not all heavy-set women can’t say no to junk food. The emphasis that we place on any size or shape only helps to further propel these stereotypes.

I guess what gets me most is how this is all part of some campaign to try and get women to feel better about their differences, feel better about their curves – prove that looks aren’t what make a woman beautiful, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

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Yet, if you don’t fall into this perfectly curvy mold, you don’t have real beauty? You’re not a real woman? You look like a ten year old boy? You’re leftover scraps for a dog? What is the difference between this and calling a woman lard-ass, muffin top, or chunky monkey? Why did this somehow slip everyone’s idea of completely and utterly offensive?

When has it ever been socially acceptable to say things like, “Real women don’t have cellulite?” Or, “Men don’t like rolls on their women, they only like them with turkey and mashed potatoes.” Or, “Stretch marks: If I wanted stripes on my women, I’d date a zebra.”

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18 responses »

  1. We just watched a behind-the-scenes for “Les Miserables” which featured more than one gratuitous shot of Hugh Jackman with his shirt off…

    …just when I thought I couldn’t loathe myself any more.

    -DD

  2. Great post. I have never been accused of being too thin, but I have noticed the “hate” towards women who are. Either too fat and therefore out of control, or too thin and therefore anorexic. What’s with some people who feel the need to judge and comdemn? It pisses me off big time that is STILL always about a woman’s body shape and not what’s between her ears instead. I wrote a post where I wrote a thank-you letter to my body for everything it has helped me achieve. I wish more people felt that way. Okay, rant over πŸ˜‰

    • I just can’t stand when these judgments masquerade around as these all-inclusive motivational posters claiming that all women are beautiful, so show off your curves! But, if you don’t have any curves, or if it’s just the shape of your bones making those curves, or if your curves are even too big, then you’re just not really a woman, or you’re obviously not healthy. Yeah, it is that thing between her ears, it’s her passion, her heart (not so much the blood-pumping one) that makes a woman who she is.

      And we should be so grateful of the awesome things our bodies do for us, even down to just keeping us alive. πŸ™‚ If we felt more like that (men included, for the entire everything of course, but more directly here) we wouldn’t have to beat ourselves up so much over body image, we wouldn’t need those motivational posters lifting us up while making us feel better than someone else.

  3. Heavy stuff (no pun intended AT ALL) and written from a point of view that I’ve never heard before. I can say that I’ve walked both sides of this (and am lumbering on the fatty fat side of it now although that’s not 100% my fault at the moment). Once upon a time, I shared your build. As I quit smoking, took a desk job, and made my way into my 30’s, my weight crept up. I used to joke that I finally “developed” (grew boobs) in my 30’s as I had been too skinny before to possess any. Then I grew a large butt and didn’t enjoy it so much. While I was fit enough to do what I wanted to be able to do, I didn’t feel good about it. I absolutely acknowledge that I was feeling neurotic due to what “society” deemed attractive and correct.
    Fast forward to post-Stella bod and I looked great (with clothes on….as you know, once you squeeze a kid out, nothing’s quite the same as before). Nursing was like a license to eat whatever I wanted in whatever quantities. After weaning, the weight crept back up. Still, I was able to do what I needed/wanted to do other than buy clothes with the “correct” size on it. Hello again, neurosis.
    Now? I just want this baby out of me as I feel miserable. I say often that I don’t know how people walk around this heavy without trying to do something about it. You can’t walk up stairs without puffing. You can’t bend over to pick something up or tie your shoes. It is difficult finding clothing that fits properly and looks decent to wear to the office. To me, it’s not just an appearance thing. It’s a “hating how this feels” thing. It’s a “I feel too horrendous and large to do what I want and need to do” thing. I hope like the dickens that I am never ever this heavy again for any reason, thankyouverymuch.
    That being said (and all of the above is probably completely unnecessary only that, as you know, weight is a big damn deal to all of us unfortunately), I DO wish that we all could feel good about ourselves. We waste a whole lot of time worrying about it and it seems as if no matter what side of the BMI curve you’re on you’re going to be pretty much demonized somehow. This also makes what you do with your Doodle (i.e. the Pretty Lady stuff) all the more wonderful!!

    • See, my pregnancy is really what helped get rid of my body insecurities. I absolutely loved being pregnant, although I can absolutely feel you on the awkward lumbering bit. But it was the first time in my life I didn’t get ridiculed for being skinny – granted, I gained over 50 pounds! I did get the occasional “not gaining enough weight” comments, but all in all I wasn’t perceived as a twig anymore. 9 months after I had him (9 months there, 9 months back!) I was super skinny again, but at least I knew I wasn’t broken.

      It is part of why I hit the “pretty lady” bit so hard. Every woman really deserves to feel pretty, even for a moment, so that she can focus on the other things that make her wonderful.

      By the way, that’s the second possibly offensive pun, and I do love that! πŸ™‚

  4. Great post πŸ™‚ My daughter is built very much like you. 20yrs old,165cm tall and weighing about 44kg. She had the same name calling etc, but she doesn’t let it get to her anymore. She eats all the time, albeit plain food and 99% unprocessed stuff. Keep fighting the good fight on changing perceptions πŸ™‚

    • Yeah, I don’t stick close to unprocessed so much, but I am vegetarian. People say things to me like, “You know, if you ate some meat, you’d get some weight on those bones and wouldn’t look like such a beanpole.” ItΒ doesntΒ bother me so much as it’s just stunning to lconstantly be reminded that this is a seemingly acceptable thing to say to people. People don’t say things like this to larger women with the intention of being nice. They say insulting and demeaning things, or they talk about health, never “nicely” talk about how disgusting their muffin top or back-boobs look, and how they could fix it by just not eating fudge or nachos anymore. It’s just, I don’t get it. πŸ™‚

  5. This is wonderful, and very well written. When I entered my sophomore year of high school I was 98 lbs, and 4’9. Throughout my entire childhood parents thought I was abused, malnourished, or somehow seriously ill. By my Junior year I was 180 and 5’4 and suddenly I was fat, obese, unattractive, and a complete lard ass.

    Both sides of this conversation is so hurtful. People just need to start appreciating the beauty in everyone, much like you do in this piece. I am “curvy” to put it nicely, and my fiance certainly doesn’t complain. One of my best friends is just as small as you, and she is absolutely gorgeous and her husband rarely takes his eyes off her. Screw the media and the close-minded morons.

    That goes for the ones who talk about men too.

  6. I’ve always been thin and people have always called me skinny and made fun of me for it. I didn’t like it in high school. I don’t mind it now. This is who I am. But you’re right, people can be very cruel asking if you are anorexic, calling you names, and making comments, when honestly, I still can’t find pants that fit. I don’t own a scale and I never plan to. My kids will know that healthy weight is based on how they feel inside, how comfortable they are, not crunching numbers.

    • πŸ™‚ I don’t personally mind it either, but it did hurt growing up. And I’m sad that there are so many activists for people of all different sizes, shapes, and abilities to try and weed out bullying, but no one seems to notice the effects of making “different” better. And I rarely use a scale, it’s more for curiosity that questioning my health. πŸ™‚

  7. Pingback: The First Steps | Stay at Home Trauma

  8. This is a great post. I have to day, I’m “curvy” and much more so after having two babies in the span of 13 months. And the negativity has always been there for me. But, being curvy all my life and having to defend my body so much for whatever “extra” people perceived it as having, I had never really thought about the other end of the spectrum. I mean, bigger girls are always told they should be thinner. We have it drilled into our heads that we’re too big. Almost like we’re defective. I’ve come to terms with my body now. After three decades and two babies. But for so long, there was so much pressure to be something else. I’m glad I read this. We should embrace our differences. Our beauty. And all that ass…or the lack thereof.

    • Yes we should! I never really took things personally, so long as I was happy with my body, it’s never mattered to me how other people have felt. And I’m glad that now you’ve come to terms with you as well! But it’s so funny, too – after I had Doodle, though I am still a skinny person, my body changed DRAMATICALLY. Yet people have basically treated me as though I’m exempt from feeling like my body changed because I don’t have the extra weight. It doesn’t matter to anyone when they talk to me about their post-baby bodies that my hips, belly, butt, chest, arms, everything is significantly NOT THE SAME – I just “don’t understand what having a baby can do to your body” and so I cannot talk in those conversations without extreme contention.

  9. I completely agree with you. I love this post. I am on the “curvy” side of things and even though I have finally come to love and appreciate my body, I grew up hating it. I was the “chubby” one compared to my female cousins (my family is really close and always doing stuff together). I’m not going to lie though, even though I love my body and really appreciate what I know my body can do as a “pretty lady”, there are some parts of me that I want to shape up and tone. The difference between me and most girls my age is the fact that I’m wanting to/ getting in shape for ME. I’m not doing it to “keep up with” societal norms or what other people think that I should look like, I’m doing this for me and the way I want my body to look, I’m doing it to be healthy and to feel healthier. That’s it, just me and my feelings, everyone else can well.. you know… because I refuse to be anything other than me, and at the end of the day my opinion of myself is the only one that matters.

    Thank you for writing a post that applies to all the “pretty ladies” out there. And thank you even more for teaching your son to see us all as pretty, because in reality we’re all different and special in our own way and that is what makes us all pretty. Btw, he is too precious.

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