I wrote an almost identical piece for a magazine-writing course in college.
Here I am, more than 20 years later, wanting to convey the same message, not to my professor for a grade, but to anyone who can relate.
I’m thin. That’s it. I’m not thin to make you look fat. Not now or ever have I been anorexic or bulimic.
I am not smoking meth, I’m not taking diet pills, I’m not even on a diet, I don’t have kidney problems, I don’t have any other health factors that make me thin, I don’t exercise five hours a day, I’m not obsessed with my body, I haven’t had any plastic surgery and I’m not trying to be a stick figure because that’s what magazines tell me how I should look.
I’ve always been thin.
As a child, a teenager and an adult. Even when I was pregnant, the only parts of my body that grew were my belly, my breasts and my feet. And except for my feet, which grew an inch forever, I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight of 120 pounds about a month after delivery without even trying.
I’m petit, small-boned and have a fast metabolism, and except for a few years when I put on rather hefty weight by my body’s standards because of a medication I was on, thin and I have always gone hand in hand. I can eat whatever I want and not have to worry about gaining weight.
But the thing is, my body actually enjoys healthful foods. Sure, I enjoy a good cheesecake more than the next woman and contrary to popular belief, I do eat them. As a matter of fact, I’m sucking on a fudge bar as I type away! But I actually prefer salads, broccoli, Brussel sprouts and fruits, to say, macaroni and cheese. I practice Yoga because I enjoy it physically and it benefits me mentally. And frankly, I loathe most other forms of exercise.
Some people tell me I look fantastic. Some people tell me I look sick. Regardless, how I look is how I look, I’m not trying to look like anything but how I do.
When I was a freshman in college, I would wake up every morning at six am and take a blender to my bathroom so the sound wouldn’t wake anyone else up and I’d make a weight-gaining concoction similar to those triathletes consume before lifting 100-pound weights. I would look at the picture of the husky man on the protein-shake bottle and gag as I sipped the thick liquid through a fat straw. Something was just wrong with that whole picture, literally and metaphorically.
I would drink Ensure to ensure that I would add on extra calories.
I wasn’t sexually active and didn’t have any hormonal problems, but more than one adult suggested I go on the pill so I would gain weight (that one was a particularly healthy and sound advice.) None of these attempts or ideas to gain weight was because I wanted to but because I was tired of all the comments about how thin I was. I had become so self-conscious that I stopped wearing skirts and shorts. And none of the methods I tried worked either.
It only took two decades for me to grow up and out of that mentality, to stop trying to force-feed myself or please others.
I couldn’t, and still can’t, gain any more weight in a healthy manner.
Sure, I could eat fries all day or have fat injected into my butt and breasts or wherever else—but I don’t want to. I don’t know, or care, if I look great to someone or sick to another. I don’t know if someone is saying either one as a compliment, an insult, out of jealousy or concern. But for those who say I am too thin, anorexic-looking or disgusting, I just feel sorry. I don’t get offended like I used to.
I do get frustrated though. I wonder what’s behind their rude remarks. Just as we all come in different shapes and sizes, so do our manners. What was it our mothers were supposed to teach us about how if we had nothing nice to say? How appropriate or respectful would it be for me to go to an obese person and tell them they’re fat, gross or disgusting? How is this any different? It’s a very thin line. Pun intended. In either case, the message is, “There is something wrong with your body.” Um…no, there isn’t.
I’m thin, someone else is thinner, someone else is fat, someone else is fatter, someone else is morbidly obese. And unless there is something medically wrong with a person or they are deliberately sabotaging their health somehow, there is nothing constructive, polite or acceptable to tell another person that there is something not right with their body.
To those who say, “You look amazing; I can’t believe you have an 11-year-old son,” I smile and say a genuine thank you. To those who say you’re too thin; try eating,” I still smile, but refrain from saying, “You’re too fat; you should try the latest fad diet.”
I was actually sitting at a restaurant a few months ago when a woman who was at least 60 pounds overweight walked passed me and jokingly told me I should put some meat on my bones. It took everything I had not to ask in the same jest if she’d like to donate some of hers.
I am perfectly happy with my body and I consider myself lucky that I can eat whatever I want. I’ve heard people say, “Lucky bitch” to my face and behind my back. I know I eat right, do the right exercise for me and like the way I look in the mirror. I still drink Ensure every once in a while, but mostly to make sure I’m getting all my vitamins because I don’t like vitamin pills.
I don’t post ten (or even one) selfies a day, I don’t talk about my body, others’ bodies or try to change how I look for anyone who doesn’t like it. Some people tell me that anyone who tells me I’m too thin is just jealous. Maybe. I don’t know. But regardless, it’s as rude as me telling that same person they’re too fat.
Why can’t we not distinguish between the two?
And I bring this up partly because I know I’m not the only target of this barrage. Whether it’s a celebrity or someone else I know personally with the same “problem,” I cannot grasp how people think that telling someone they’re too skinny or that “enough is enough” is different from saying something similar to someone overweight. When people are called fat, there have been everything from accusations of slander and defamation, low self-esteem issues on the rise and special reports on the plight of the overweight.
But somehow skinny women who are called sick are supposed to stand back and say…what? Thank you?
This is me: 119 pounds, five feet five inches tall, B-cup breasts and beyond content with it all. However your body is, be proud of it too. If you’re not, do something about it. Or don’t.
But please, do (or don’t) for yourself, not others.
And in the meantime, keep the focus off of mine.
“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.” ~ Emily Post
Author: Kathy Kaveh