Let’s be honest, nobody really likes to hear the skinny girl complain about weight problems. She
has should have none. If the world is handed on a silver platter to the thin and bronzed, they aren’t allowed to have complaints.
*Disclaimer: I am not bronzed.
I tipped the scale at 97.6 last week. I blinked a few times and focused in on the number flashing up at me. That’s middle school weight. Why am I back to middle school weight? Just months earlier I had been going to the gym several times a week trying to bulk up, add a few pounds, and train for a 5K. I was 102 or 103 and wanting to get to at least 105. Two pounds? And an increase at that? Easy as–literally–cake. But not so for whatever alien breed I am. In addition to being young and (relatively) healthy, I apparently have the metabolism of a hummingbird.
I walked back to the office of the trainer I was meeting with (never say no to a free session. Brush those cookie crumbs off and grab your keys) and reported the number, embarrassed. She put it into a Playstation remote looking thing along with my height.
I held the handles straight out in front of me like I was shown, and waited for the device to read my body fat percentage. A few numbers popped up, but I wasn’t sure which one to read.
“Uh…6.3% I guess.”
She frowned a little, a look which I knew meant “that can’t be right.”
“Let’s try it again,” she said, and messed with the numbers. The reading was a little different this time.
“Essential fat” for women is anywhere from 10-13% which, obviously, is not good. She scribbled something on her notes. My BMI was in the low 17’s, which essentially means I am 10 pounds below a healthy weight. The next twenty minutes was a super fun conversation about how dangerously skinny I am, the negative health effects it will eventually produce, and how to scrutinize what I eat every day.
[NOTE: Of all the times I have been asked if I’m anorexic or if I have “a problem,” that day in the trainer’s office was not one of those times. I have had professors, doctors, and strangers ask me point blank if I have an eating disorder. Imagine how nervous I was walking back to tell her my weight. I felt ashamed, scared, guilty. Even though I had done nothing wrong, I knew my body looked like it had “I’m a problem” written on it. Imagine a professor or doctor sitting down next to someone overweight and saying, “Kelly…do you think you’re fat because you hate yourself? Is that what’s going on here?”
Can you imagine? Overweight people get way more flak than they deserve, (which is zero. Zero flak, people.) but uber thin people catch some of those negative comments too.
Isn’t it amazing how, with billions of people in the world, we still haven’t learned to be okay with different bodies?
The trainer probably doesn’t even know it, but by giving me a chance to talk about my current diet, my concerns, my health goals, even my professional goals, she gave me what felt like the right to a fair trial. Innocent until proven guilty. And it was nice that she never looked at me with knowing eyes and said in a low voice, “Are you? Guilty?” ]
Hours later I was sitting in front of a dietician, retelling my story. (Again, no mention of eating disorders. What is it with nice, noninvasive people giving free sessions?!) I walked away with a plan to gain several pounds. My health has always been more important to me than shirt or pant size, but I’m now in a place in my life where “health” is not coming so easily.
I am skinny.
I am not anorexic.
I am not bulimic.
I am not dieting.
Instead of assuming people worked their tails off to get really small tails or really flat stomachs, let’s not assume. Instead of assuming people were lazy, festering couch potatoes for two decades to have hit their weight, let’s not assume. Bodies and body weights do crazy things, and we are not always in charge of them. (See: heart attacks).
I can fit in children’s size large and extra large clothing, but why would anyone really be concerned with who my Under Armour socks are marketed to vs. where they end up?
Earlier this year, a friend of mine posted a picture of herself in her workout clothes with this caption:
I am not too skinny. I am strong. I’m healthy. I work hard. I’m self-conscious just as much as the next girl. I struggle when people comment on how I look or my weight. I eat like a pig. I hold back tears when people tell me to go eat a hamburger. Please imagine me coming up to you and telling you you need to diet or go workout. How incredibly insensitive would that be? Next time you want to say, “You’re so skinny” or “I wish I was skinny, but not that skinny,” just don’t. Don’t tear me down to lift yourself up. Let God lift you always.
Before I even got married, I worried I wouldn’t be able to stay thin enough to fit in my wedding dress for a 5 year, 10 year anniversary picture. Now I’m worried I won’t be able to fill it out enough. Let my wedding dress woes be a lesson to all of us: Unless we actively choose to worry about our health instead of body image, we’ll probably never get there. My wedding dress may not fit in 10 years, but does that really matter if I’ve run a marathon, graduated from Police Academy, learned to water ski, and/or (Heaven, all of Heaven, please forbid) had a child?
My trainer told me to not do so much cardio and eat more fats every day.
Well, darn. If you say so. Maybe things are looking up.
*Disclaimer #2: This post is not in any way meant to belittle the hardships, negative effects or consequences of being overweight or severely underweight (anorexic). Just because I don’t struggle with these things doesn’t mean my heart doesn’t ache for those who do.
If you want your story to be told–concerning this topic or another–email firstname.lastname@example.org.