Tuesday, May 22, 2012

the skinny on skinny or MOASB #10--by Brenna

Dear Dana, 

I've been thinking all this last week about the message you sent. Asking about my experiences with my weight and body type. I have been thin throughout my life, wait, not thin--skinny. My biggest struggle with my body-image has roots in how those around me view my weight.

I have never understood why it is inappropriate to ask someone, "have you gained some weight?"  but it seems perfectly acceptable to many people to say, "you"re too skinny!". As if one is a huge insult and the other a huge compliment. 

[As a side note, why is this always one of the first things we say to one another? I'm pretty sure since the dawn of time the first thing out of everyone's mouth when greeting a long absent friend or family member is some comment about their weight or appearance. Seriously, was it the first thing Adam said to Eve… the first thing Josephine said to Napoleon when he came back from war was--"have you gained some weight?" anyways, I digress…]

I have heard the latter of those two comments many times, and for me it is not a compliment. In fact it has become my biggest source of negative self-esteem. For me, how skinny I am is synonymous with my level of happiness. I think this is an idea I have picked up from being born a Phillips. In my family, when we are unhappy or anxious--we don't eat. Which means we lose weight, therefore, if you are thin you must be unhappy. I am an anxious person, something that large amounts of yoga and prayer and therapy help me with. And just my having anxiety…gives me more anxiety. I have anxiety about my anxiety. You can see how quickly this can get a little crazy. So what I've learned to try and do, is separate my anxiety and my negative self-esteem as much as I possibly can, so as not to compound my own particular brand of craycray (crazy). 

When others say to me "you look sooo skinny!" or "Are you eating?!" all I hear is "you look so unhappy/unhealthy/terrible". And when I hear others says it, I begin to believe it about myself. This is my own private battle,  learning to be confident in my own self-worth and happiness despite what others see about my outside appearance. But it would help if we could all agree to focus a little less on how we look and a little more on each other's overall well-being . Words are powerful, and we can hurt each other with the most casual of comments. So, on behalf of all women (of any size) I would just like to say: please stop asking questions about my weight loss/gain, I am so much more than a number on a scale--ask me about me instead.

love, Brenna a skinny (but still vulnerable) biotch


  1. I love this. We are pretty much the same girl! (I get anxiety about my anxiety too!) Hang in there, and try not let their comments define how you feel about yourself. It's seriously a tough battle to hear what they say and not internalize... I keep trying not to but seem to fail often. Have you ever thought about saying the opposite thing to them (I sure have)... "Hey girl, haven't seen you in forever, WHOA HOW MUCH ARE YOU EATING?" Hahaha... just kidding, it's totally rude, but would shock them into silence.

  2. I have a younger sister that we are all jealous of...because she is thinner than us. We would always tell her how skinny she was and from a young age she would tell us not to tell her that. We were always confused by the fact that she didn't like us to point out her thin figure.

    It wasn't till I got older and married a thin man that I realized being told you are "so skinny" is not a compliment. And it's not just a negative comment to men, but women also. Words really mess with peoples' heads. I really like this post and it makes me want to try harder to think about what I say, before I say it.

    Thanks Brenna

    PS congrats on being done with your first year of teaching!