November 18, 2020

The Body Shaming we Don’t Talk About.

Skinny shaming is a thing, in case you didn’t know.

I’ve hated my body just as much as a fat-shamed person does.

I’ve always been skinny. I’ve heard the comments for as long as I can remember.

At one point, my family thought my mom was too poor to feed me. No, I was just picky about what I ate and had a super high metabolism. And despite my broadening taste pallet and a new love for steak and potatoes, I continued to stay thin into adulthood.

The comments didn’t bother me that much until I developed what seemed like a legitimate eating disorder.

I’ve suffered from extreme stress and anxiety for years upon years. I have a long history of traumas, one of which stemmed from a medication that I took to help my anxiety. I freaked out so badly after taking it that I refused to put anything in my body. It took an entire year for me to eat without having someone with me to make sure I wasn’t being poisoned or rescue me if I was.

But overcoming that wasn’t enough for me to gain weight and keep it. My metabolism is still high and when I’m overly stressed or too anxious, I can’t eat. I’ve gone as much as an entire week—several times—surviving on only a few forced bites of peanut butter and jelly.

My mom was seriously concerned that I was going to starve to death. So I started to. Friends would comment on how thin I was regularly. One time, in particular, broke my heart the most. I was in the bathroom when I heard a guest had arrived. I ignored my reflection in the bathroom mirror to be met with another before I headed down the stairs. “You look so gross,” I said to myself, frowning at the skeleton covered in skin that I saw staring back at me. I sighed and headed down the stairs.

The first thing my friend said when I walked out onto my porch was, “Oh my God! What happened to you?! You have lost so much weight! You’re so skinny, dude!” Cue the tears. Not knowing that I had just swallowed my own shame and disgust a few seconds prior, she had triggered me into a full-blown breakdown. I said, “I don’t tell you that you’ve gotten fat! Why would you say that to me?!” She had no idea that what she had said could hurt me so badly.

We’re well aware that overweight people are often insecure and feel helpless inside of their own bodies. But, how often do we think about the fact that someone who isn’t overweight can feel the same way?

While one is starving themselves to lose weight, another is forcing themselves to eat. While one is taking laxatives and going on juice-only diets, another is increasing their caloric intake and making protein shakes. Both are avoiding the mirror because they don’t like what they see. Both are pointing out every flaw in their reflection and grabbing hands with collective criticism. Self-esteem and confidence are low, while both sides of the fence envy the other. Ironic, isn’t it?

Last night, I put on an outfit I’d worn in one of the photos where I’m least proud of my body. I snapped a photo before my phone died, and this morning, I collaged the two together. I did this because two years ago I weighed about 94 pounds and I recently met my goal weight of 115.

In my “before” photo, my shirt was legitimately holding my skirt up. I’ve since lost my perfect tan but gained a lot more love for myself. I don’t cry when someone tells me how skinny I am or how much weight I’ve lost. When I look in the mirror, I don’t tell myself I look disgusting. Now I smile and pour love into myself where I had once spewed self-hate.

An Elephant author friend of mine, Billy Manas, told me a short story, that I thoroughly enjoyed, when I shared this comparison photo with him. He said:

“Last night, on a date, the woman was like ‘You are so skinny.’ I said ‘That’s so weird cuz I was just thinking you were so old.’ Then, silence. I smiled and said, ‘Don’t say things like that.'”


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