Yesterday I shared a TBT picture on my personal facebook page, it was my best friend and me when we were about 8 or 9 years old. It’s the 4th of July and we are helping get the pie eating contest set up at the campground where we spent our summers. At that age and in that place we wore our bathing suits from sun up to sun down so there we were looking at the pies in our bathing suites. It is one of my favorite pictures but when you look closely at it you can already see my insecurities, while my friend is in her bathing suit without a care in the world I am covered up with a T-shirt and I assure it it’s not because I was cold.
I knew people would like the picture, my friend and I are pretty amazing and that campground was the definition of heaven on earth. I expected any comments on the picture to be about the campground or the longing for summer weather or the 80s fashion, most were but one comment really stuck out to me. A friend of my friend (who also knew the campground very well) said: “Priceless you haven't gained a pound since”. Seems innocent enough, unless you really think about it.
I have been struggling with this topic for a long time, it’s not a secret that I successfully lost a good amount of weight a little over a year ago and for a long time after that I struggled to keep weight on. It wasn’t because I was still dieting or (as others assumed) starving myself, I was at the lowest point in my life: back home after 8 years and feeling lonelier than ever with a marriage on the edge of disaster. My in my months of misery I heard the same thing over and over again “you look great!”. That was it, I was thin I must have it all under control because I couldn’t even fill out my size 2s.
It’s everywhere, not the need to be skinny but the need to look skinny. Even today, now at a happier and healthier weight, I still feel that surge of glee when someone says that I look skinny. Why is that? I have so much more than being skinny to be proud of. In the past year my husband and I have worked our asses off to move from near divorce to stronger than we’ve ever been, my girls are smart and funny (but not as funny as they think they are) and happy, I go to work every day at a job who is desperate to keep me and with people I don’t mind seeing every day. I am in a great place but…well, wasn’t it nice last winter when not a single ounce of me jiggled as I jogged?
Back to my friend, I asked her if I could write about that picture I posted and the comment about her weight and (obviously) she said to go for it. She didn’t even notice that the comment was weird which isn’t anything to do with her intelligence but just on how we are as a society. Yes my friend is still very skinny but it’s not by accident. If someone asked me to describe her I am sure “skinny” would be on the list somewhere near the end but up at the top would be “healthy”, “inspirational”, “strong”, “dedicated”, “fearless”. Like I said, she’s not skinny by accident – it’s not like what happened to me where life literally sucked the fat out of me – she is constantly training for half marathons along with her husband. While I sit at my desk in a comfy office chair she sits on an exercise ball. She fuels her body with what she knows it needs and then, her healthy lifestyle allows for her to treat herself as she pleases. You may see her eating junk food surrounded by her kids and think that she’s a lucky bitch who gets to be skinny because of the good genes afforded her in the genetic lottery but you would be wrong. She’s worked hard and overcome so much to live the life that she has chosen for herself, that is not luck.
So yea, she’s skinny but she is so much more than that. I am so much more than that. You are so much more than that. We know this, so why is it that when we want to reassure someone our go to compliment is “you look so skinny!”? As if that is the only thing that matters. I wish we could stop, I have been trying to stop. I am trying with my girls, sure they know what a calorie is, they see my Polar watch/heartrate monitor, they know that a calorie is a measurement of energy. TC has started to ask me why she can’t have junk food all the time and I’ve started to explain (as much as I can to a 5 year old) the idea of energy in and energy our and being healthy and happy. I work so hard not to call myself fat/skinny/fluffy….any of that around my girls. I hope they never get that feeling of glee that I still get when someone tells me that I look skinny.