I'm skinny. I've basically always been skinny. My mom is skinny, my grandma was skinny, and the majority of my family is, well, skinny. I was born weighing 10 lbs, and that is the absolute last time I've been above average in the weight department. This is where everyone usually interjects with a "you're so lucky," but it's really not that simple.
|Sorry for the awkward, unfocused picture, but this shows what I look like these days.|
As a kid, I never really thought about weight much. I suppose that's because it wasn't an issue for me. I was pretty normal. But as I started getting older I didn't gain much weight. I was getting taller but not any wider. I still didn't think much of it.
Around the time I started middle school, you know - that awkward time when everyone is self-conscious no matter what size, I started getting a lot of people saying things like "you're too skinny." You're too skinny? I never understood why this was a socially acceptable thing to say to someone. I mean, I'm not talking about a doctor here, I'm talking about casual acquaintances making such claims in a really nonchalant way. Some of them even sounded like they might be trying to compliment me. I just don't get why, even though saying "you're fat" to someone is so clearly rude and disrespectful, people think it's totally fine to say "you're too skinny." I mean, you're still saying the same basic thing: you're not the right size, and you don't look how I think you should. At least that's how I heard it. (I realize some of you might have said this to people in the past, as it seems to be widely accepted as an okay thing to say, and you probably didn't even mean to be rude - just realize that it's not quite as harmless as you might have thought).
For a long time, I thought I had to gain weight. I didn't really hate my size on my own, but people told me I was too small so I believed them. I ate like a normal kid my age, and then some. But I really honestly could not gain any weight. I have heard about other people struggling with this on the opposite end of the spectrum a lot, and that's exactly how I felt: helpless.
On top of all that, I've been accused of having eating disorders several times. That's a pretty serious thing to accuse someone of, and it was never, ever true. I've always eaten when I was hungry, and this just made me feel like even more of a freak. Did I look like I was sick or something?
Even one time in college (by this point I was pretty much over the self-consciousness about my size) someone indirectly called me "disgusting." We were having a discussion about body image in regards to magazine covers and all that good stuff. He, of course, thought he was being noble in defending overweight people and said something to the effect of "I think it's disgusting when you can see a girl's ribcage." Ouch. I know he was trying to refer to supermodels who weigh 80lbs at 5'10" and starve themselves and all that, (and I don't look like that at all), but yes, I can see my ribcage. I didn't say anything because I didn't know what to say. I've never starved myself or deprived myself of food, but there it is. And apparently it's disgusting...
On the few occasions I've talked about this with people, they usually say something like "oh, they're just jealous" or something. I don't really know if that's true. It might be that they really thought they were complimenting me (kind of warped if you think about it), they just have no filter, or they were jealous. I don't know why anyone would be jealous or happy for a person who is "too skinny" but apparently that's the world we live in?
Again, I have no body image issues anymore. I feel totally comfortable with my size and my appearance. I just wanted to share my own little issues of growing up as a skinny girl who still felt like I was the wrong size. Body image issues aren't specific to one body type. If we all just mind our own business and stop trying to hold ourselves and others to unreasonable standards, then a lot of these things wouldn't be issues.
The bottom line, I guess, is that you never know what someone is going through. Be nice to people and really think about what you say before you say it, especially when talking to young girls who are so impressionable and self-conscious in the first place.
If you have a story, and don't mind sharing it, please do.