As a lifelong “skinny girl,” the truth was that until recently, I was ashamed of how I looked.
Being skinny might sound ideal, but to me, it was a curse. It was the genetic trait I hated most about myself.
Not disliked. Hated.
I was a late bloomer. Boys weren’t interested. Jeans never fit right because I didn’t have a butt to fill them out. Bras? Please. They were an accessory rather than a necessity. I felt repulsive in a bathing suit, with my hip bones jutting out and my non-existent cleavage. I just wanted to look like everyone else. I wanted boys to like me.
I wanted curves.
The truth was that I couldn’t tell the truth. Skinny girls aren’t allowed to complain.
I was told I should “Go eat a hamburger!” or asked “Do you ever EAT?” and it tore apart my already delicate self-esteem.
I would’ve given anything to have my thighs touch or not have people laugh and want to measure my tiny wrists. I hated looking three years younger than I actually was. It was humiliating to have my peers be shocked at how old I really was. “You look SO much younger!” they’d exclaim in disbelief.
My mom tells me now she even heard criticism from other parents that they weren’t feeding me enough. She was appalled at the insinuation. I ate. I was perfectly healthy and she knew it. I just couldn’t gain weight.
As a young adult, some even went so far as to ask me if I was SURE I wasn’t anorexic (as if that is something I could be ambivalent about). They didn’t believe me when I said no and spread rumors that I was.
While being thin might seem like a dream come true for most, skinny people find it endlessly frustrating.
It was utterly mortifying to have people lift me up and say, “OMG! You’re so light! Don’t you eat?”
We teach our kids, and try ourselves, not to insult people. To be kind and think before we speak. To not judge people or call them names. But it seems skinny people are exempt.
Even today with self-empowerment and anti-bullying movements flourishing, skinny girls are still body-shamed. I know because my daughter is.
“You need to eat,” “You are a skeleton,” “Oh my gosh, look at your thigh gap,” and “You’re so skinny!” are some of the damaging comments she has heard. She has struggled with body image and self-esteem and she’s 14.
Weight insecurities are weight insecurities, regardless if women struggle with too much or too little weight.
It’s never OK to demean or belittle an overweight person. In fact, it’s insensitive and incredibly rude. Presumably, we all know that and are outraged if and when we hear it.
What most may not realize is that it is also not OK to do so to an underweight person.
Today, I love myself and the body I have. It is perfectly imperfect. It is exactly how God created it to be: a temple to be honored. But it was a long and painful journey to get to this place of self-love and self-acceptance.
Here’s a gentle suggestion from this “skinny girl.” The next time you start to call someone skinny, please don’t.
It might not be the compliment you intend it to be.