Wednesday, May 16, 2012

the skinny on skinny, or MOASB #6--by Ruthann

if you're just tuning in, go here for an explanation!

Ever since I can remember I have been known for being skinny.

I feel like I am supposed to hate my body and if I don’t – other people will hate me for it. (It kind of reminds me of Cady on Mean Girls and how she didn’t realize there could be so much wrong with her body until the Plastics started complaining about theirs).

Comments about my body are almost constant. And… they don’t feel good most of the time. I am pretty confident about how I look in clothes and who I am, but I worry a lot about why guys like me. Is it just for my body? My body that (guess what!) won’t always be so thin? Is that the only reason I’m attractive? Am I a “butter face” (but her face)? Am I just a “hot bod”? Am I just an object? Only worth hooking up with?

I’ve been trying to think of comments I have received that have often echoed my mind. I will share a few with you:

I remember having my cousin tell me that it’s weird that I don’t have a boyfriend because I’m skinny and clearly guys like that. 
(Comments like these have really made me wonder things like, "Okay, so I am skinny... and guys like THAT, but guys don't like me... so what is wrong with me?")

I had a guy tell me when I was 16 that I would look much better if I gained 20 lbs. 
(Really? What if I was a girl who struggled with weight and he said... "Hey you would look better if you lost 20 lbs." Comments like these do not feel good even going in the other direction.)

I was made fun of consistently in High School – being told to turn to the side and stick out my tongue to become a “zipper”.
(You might think that it would be fun to be teased for being skinny, but it was often in a hateful tone. I was accused of stuffing my bra, because I clearly shouldn't be allowed to have boobs if I was so skinny.)

A guy I dated would rudely ask, “Have you eaten today?”
(Ouch. Really? This was a guy who would say how HOT my body was and how he just KNEW I would NEVER get fat... but then he would make remarks like these that made me feel like crap at the same time.)

When I got my wisdom teeth out and my face was swollen, my older sister said, “I can die happy knowing what it would be like to see you fat.”
(Okay, so this was actually really funny at the time, but I still think about it and get weirdly scared of getting fat since being skinny has become part of my IDENTITY.)

I’ve have my Aunt glare at me and accusingly ask what size my pants were.
(This Aunt struggled with weight throughout her life and even had a gastric bypass procedure done in order to lose weight. I am always scared to see her, because I know she will find a way to comment on my body and make me feel bad about it.)

I was accused of being anorexic and bulimic when I was an EFY participant. (I have scars on my hands from surgery and the other kids thought they were scars from making myself throw up – as the reflex is to bite down).
(I cried a lot about this. I had never been accused so openly of having an eating disorder.)

A close friend developed an eating disorder in 8th grade and I know it has never been easy for her to be friends with a girl that doesn’t ever have to worry about weight.
(Weight is often an uncomfortable subject between us.)

When I got home from my mission, people in my ward said, “Wow, you filled out, you look great!”
(Oh thanks, now I'm self conscious about how I looked before.)

A guy once told me that he wouldn’t mind seeing more of my bod. 
(I didn’t feel like an object at ALL.)

I feel like girls hate me for no reason. And say rude things because they feel like I think I am better than them because I am thin. I am not complaining, but why hate me for something I can’t control? I often feel guilty. I have to watch the girls I love hate themselves for their bodies. I have sisters who struggle with their weight and who feel like I can’t understand. And it’s true, I don’t understand what it is like to struggle with weight, but I do understand what it is like to dislike yourself for your looks. I do know what it’s like to blame your looks for everything. I often think – “Oh, that guy dumped me because I’m not cute enough…. Why would he ever like me?”

Being thin does not solve self esteem problems.


  1. Thank you for this! It is true that skinny women may not know what it is like to deal with "weight issues." But it is also true that we are all subjected to literally impossible standards of "beauty" which we are also told is the most valuable part of ourselves. One of the reasons I love this blog, and this series of posts, so much is because it is a great reminder that there is no room for resentfulness or meanness between us. All of us, men and women, are harmed by the messages we constantly receive from the media about beauty and worth. The only way to overcome it is to be real and honest and to support and love one another, and ourselves. (as hard as that can be, honestly) These posts are a great insight for a non-skinny women into what it is like for other women dealing with the same pressures in different ways! xoxo

    1. Wow--great insight and so well-stated. One of the saddest things to see is when these damaging and unrealistic standards of beauty turn us against one another. I agree that this series is a powerful reminder that we are all fighting the same demons, just in differing ways. I'm not sure what happens to us.

      This is embaressing to admit-- when you made this comment, I was looking at the facebook pictures of a kid from my mission's girlfriend. She appears to be a model of sorts. She is conventionally BEAUTIFUL and thin and as I was looking at pictures at her, I found that I began to judge her. I assigned her characteristics, qualities. I deemed her superficial because how can someone who looks like THAT have any depth? I even imagined what her voice would sound like and the kinds of things "a girl like her" would say. I have made an enemy of a picture. What the hell is wrong with me?

      No matter what she talks like or what she wears, she's a human with real struggles, fears, hopes, and dreams. I have no idea who she is and what she has suffered and achieved in this life. What would the world (and especially the world of women) be like if we could work past these stereotypes, and embrace one another as sisters--not enemies. What if we could love and accept ourselves enough to not be thereated by the dress size or clear skin or boyfriend or graduate degree of one another?

  2. Thanks for that Dana :)

    This series has been an incredible source of insight for me regarding few people that I am trying to love and understand right now. Getting perspective is SO great- let's just love ourselves and each other!


  3. I love this post. Because we share some common life situations. I get told all the time how I really look so much better now that I have gained 15 lbs, and how they are so glad I did because I looked sick before. (WOW THANKS FRIENDS!) I am so glad you posted on comments like that, because I have always wondered if I was ugly before, and how apparently 15 lbs makes me a better person than I was. When it reality, it just makes me a different shaped person than I was. Thank you for sharing all of this, and I love reading these so much!