A writer that I am familiar with on a couple of different levels has an article on the Huffington Post today. Jenny Trout wrote a fantastic piece about being a heavier woman wearing a bikini at the beach. Did the world stop turning? You’ll have to read it as I don’t believe in giving spoilers. I will say that the picture that goes along with the article reminds me that she is a beautiful woman, inside and out, not that I needed the reminder.
I’ve wanted to write about weight issues for a while but have put it off because my view on it is far different than the average person out there. I wasn’t sure how I could talk about issues of a person’s weight without alienating anyone but the reality is I have felt alienated because of my weight quite a few times. Thanks to Jenny I am willing to speak out.
I’m 5′ 4″ and weigh in at a touch over 100 pounds. At my heaviest I was 109 and that was sometime after high school and many moons ago now.
“How do you stay so skinny?”
“Do you eat?”
“Can I buy you a sandwich?”
“It must be great to be able to eat whatever you want…” (the “bitch” in that is usually silent but very loud at the same time)
The answers to the above questions are: metabolism and the fact that I never quite sit still, yes or I’d die, no thank you and I wish that were true.
When we go to dinner or family gatherings I have caught the stares. How much did AK put on her plate? Did she eat it? Quick, someone take a slice of lemon meringue to her.
At one of my physicals a couple of years ago I discovered I had high cholesterol. Like ridiculously high. They put me on the meds and I up’ed my exercise and food choices became healthier and I knocked the numbers back down. The fact that my test came back that high is proof that people actually can’t eat whatever they want. Having to choose a lot of fat free items at the grocery store knocked my weight right back down, too. It’s frustrating.
I’m a night owl who leaves the TV on for the background noise while I play games, read, write or whatever. The number of commercials for miracle weight loss drugs definitely outnumber the “having problems gaining weight?” commercials. As a matter of fact I’ve only ever seen one commercial for people like me, the ones who can’t gain weight no matter how hard they try, and they were essentially pushing protein shakes. Been there, done that.
“You are such a Skinny Minnie.” Only my mom gets to call me that, I wish others would stop. It’s such a judgment statement.
I have bony elbows and hips that are sharp. When they bump into something it hurts. My butt is so bony that when I ride on a hard bicycle seat I often wonder if it’s leaving sparks in my wake.
Friends of ours had a baby not too long ago. I love babies. They smell awesome and they’re all soft and wiggly and their eyes are constantly filled with wonder. I’m slightly jealous of all the discoveries babies get to make but that’s another post for another time.
They brought their precious new family member by and, being me with no kids and adoration for every kid I meet, I had to hold that baby. She was three months at the time so of course I had her head in the crook of my elbow and I was looking down talking to her.
Side note: I’m not a big fan of baby talk for kids but I’ll yammer at my pets that way. Weird.
My gaze shifted or my perception of my gaze shifted and I realized that poor kid basically had a twig under her head and butt. No wonder she was fretting and started crying. It’s hard to feel secure when you feel like you could roll off of something at any moment.
The view of that rosy pink head over my little arm freaked me out and I had to give her back to her Momma.
So there can be psych issues that go along with being very thin.
There are physical issues, too. I rub a lot of cartilage on cartilage and my knees, hips, elbows, shoulders and back pay the price. Arthritis can be a bitch and I’m not even 40 yet.
Want to carry that 20 pound bag up some stairs? Guess again, it’s not going to happen unless I enjoy feeling like I’m going to fall backwards at any moment. No matter how strong I feel my muscles are it seems a feather could kick my butt.
Jenny Trout wore a two piece bathing suit at the beach while being heavier. That’s not a crime but because of people’s perceptions of weight it may have felt like one. Is it fair? Of course not. Did anyone walk up to Jenny at that beach and ask her what her diet is? Her exercise habits? I highly doubt it.
I wear a two piece bathing suit to the beach or pool and I’m approached almost every time by strangers with questions about diet, exercise, whatever. “I bet you work out every day?” Nope. Somewhat but nope.
Why is it considered rude to ask someone overweight that question but it’s perfectly fine to come up to me and judge my diet, exercise and everything else?
I have a standard answer I use when I’m asked how I stay so thin. “I have high metabolism and I believe in all things in moderation.”
Sure, I can eat half a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in one sitting. Who can’t? But I choose not to because of the repercussions. Cholesterol, sodium, all the things that are natural and yet trying to kill us because we overdose on them, are bad for all of us.
“I’d give you 20 of my pounds.” Sure, everyone offers but no one has shown up at my door with those pounds in tow.
If being thin is an attribute that is so highly prized in American Society, why do I constantly feel like a second class citizen?
The most recent question of my habits came from a 13 year old girl who had the same body type I do until recently when she started flaring out with hips and boobs. They were making her self conscious. What to do? Try to be a good role model, that’s all anyone can do.
I gave the sweet girl my standard answer and then, because I actually like young people, we started talking about moderation. Sure, I’ll eat half of that pint of Ben & Jerry’s but I’ll have had a salad or healthy dinner before I do so.
And then the key statement came out, the one I don’t give adults because they should have figured it out already. “This is the way my body was created whether it was by God, the Flying Spaghetti Monster or whatever. I refuse to feel bad because of it.“
The sweet young girl thought that statement over, nodded, and I could almost see the click when she connected it to herself.
Not everyone is going to be extremely heavy though obesity has become more common and is very nearly accepted as the norm now. Not everyone is going to be extremely thin though it seems to be an ideal that is photo-shopped on all of the magazine covers. Neither of those extremes is healthy; physically, spiritually or mentally.
When you’re out doing your thing this summer and you see the guy/gal who’s heavy and in what you may consider an inappropriate suit and you keep your mouth shut, remember it when you see the opposite. You may not feel like you’re insulting someone when you ask if they like being able to count their ribs but you really are and those comments add up just as quickly as the snide remarks about someone being overweight.
So yeah, I have a thigh gap. I can fit four fingers through it. Does that make me a happy and complete person? No more so than any other human being on this planet.
We all know the truth but we forget it while in the midst of herd mentality. “Beauty is only skin deep.” It matters not that I can shop in the juniors section. In 100 years no one is going to care about that. What they will (and should) care about are the acts and words that I’ve left behind.