Thursday, May 17, 2012

the skinny on skinny, or MOASB #7--by Katrina

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

I wasn’t going to write on this prompt at first. I didn’t feel my story was too exciting or worth sharing. But as I have been reading these deeply personal posts, I found there was one voice missing. The voice of the true “skinny bitch.” The girl who really just didn’t understand. Mine.

To say I wasn’t a bitch in high school would be a lie. In fact, I wore that bitch badge with pride. I built up that persona, and nobody really messed with me. When somebody would call me out on it, I’d shrug and say, “Yeah, so what?”

I never really thought of myself as skinny though. Growing up, I was the chubby one in my family. I was a very chubby baby and toddler, and that chubby label stuck into adolescence. My mom’s family has these crazy amazing genes where the women have long lean torsos, accompanied by short and slightly chubby legs (particularly this knee chub that is impossible to get rid of). I received these genes along with my sisters, but I also got something they didn’t get…hips. My older sister, who is four years older than me, and I experienced the joy that is womanhood the same year. She was 16. I was 12. While she was still wearing her size negative zero jeans, I jumped from kid’s sizes to a size 3. My hips never looked back. My upper body however, remained lean and toned.

While hips were an extremely awkward asset to have in middle school, I embraced them a bit more in high school. It gave me some curvature that most of the other skinny girls didn’t have. I still didn’t think of myself as skinny though. Skinny girls wore size zero pants; size 3 tops. I wore size 7 to 9 pants, so I couldn’t be one of those girls. While self-conscious of my hips, thighs, and butt at times, I had no issues above the waist. I had slender arms, a ridiculously flat stomach, and got a bit of attention from the older boys. That was all I needed.

I noticed the differences in girls around me.
  • The skinny and scrawny ones. I attributed this to either pre-puberty or just the same natural scrawniness my older sister had.
  • The skinny and muscular ones. These were the girls I was most jealous of. Not just of their bodies, but general athletic abilities.
  • The slightly chubby ones. This was the broadest range of body types and included any girl that wasn’t my idea of skinny to those I saw as overweight.
  • The overweight ones. I attributed this to either crappy genes or a general lack of physical activity.

I put myself in the slightly chubby group most of the time. I didn’t have love handles, or really any fat on my upper body to grab on to, but I had my hips and ass. I wasn’t one of the skinny girls, so I figured I belonged in the slightly chubby category.

I rarely took the time to think about what other girls were going through in regards to their body image. One of my best friends, a ballerina, didn’t like her calves or boobs so she extreme dieted herself at the age of 16. I knew she wasn’t being healthy, but didn’t know how to talk to her about it. My solution was to either tell her she needed to eat, or to set a bag of chips or a plate of fries (her weakness) in front of her when we were in social settings. I never once asked her why she was doing it or if she wanted to talk about it. I just told her she was being dumb. She was beautiful. I didn’t understand.

Another friend was bulimic. We all knew she was. While some informed teachers, counselors, and her parents out of concern, I pretty much just ignored it. She was doing it for attention. She knew it was bad for her. It was her issue. Not mine. How could you knowingly harm yourself like that? How could you hate yourself so much? I didn’t understand. She ended up in the hospital. I felt terrible for not being one of the people doing anything, but I still didn’t really understand.

I figured the super skinny girls who wanted to gain weight should eat and work out more to build muscle. I figured the slightly chubby to overweight girls should eat less and be more active if they wanted to be slimmer. I could eat whatever junk food I wanted, have a womanly figure, but not gain weight. I just didn’t understand these issues other girls had.

I carried this attitude with me into college. When we all came back for that first break it was clear that the dreaded “Freshman 15” was no urban legend. I had gained a few pounds, not fifteen though. How could these girls have gained so much weight in just a few months? I certainly wasn’t working out in college and was eating the same crappy dining hall food they were. I didn’t understand.

I’d like to say I’ve outgrown this misunderstanding and my bitchiness. Some have said I’ve lost my edge. I’ll take that as a compliment. With age my metabolism has definitely slowed down. I have to exercise more. I include more fruits and veggies in my diet, but am unwilling to give up the cake or other sweets I love. There are some things I still don’t understand, and maybe never will. However, here are some things I feel like I grasp better now.

I understand that it takes work to stay fit and healthy. For some it takes more work than others.

I understand what it is to look at ones body and see areas for improvement.

I understand that, whether we like it or not, a certain amount of how our bodies are shaped is based on genetics. (Stupid knee chub).

I understand that my bitchiness in high school was probably more than anything a defensive fortress to protect me from any and all emotional pain. However, that is no excuse for it.

I understand that the psyche of an adolescent girl is probably one of the most fragile things on this Earth, even if I refused to acknowledge my own fragileness at that time in my life. 

Lastly, I understand that while we may be able to break down or define physical beauty in measurements and symmetry, true beauty comes from within. Once you see the ugliness inside an outwardly beautiful woman, or the beauty within an outwardly plain woman, you’ll never look at them the same again. Physical beauty is transient. We’re all going to get old, wrinkly, and soft. Inner beauty lasts forever. Let’s focus on that, shall we?

1 comment:

  1. "Once you see the ugliness inside an outwardly beautiful woman, or the beauty within an outwardly plain woman, you’ll never look at them the same again. Physical beauty is transient. We’re all going to get old, wrinkly, and soft. Inner beauty lasts forever. Let’s focus on that, shall we?"

    Best ending ever. You said it so perfectly! Thanks for sharing. I really enjoy reading these so much.