After my first pregnancy I became too skinny, sick. With my second pregnancy I had trouble gaining weight despite eating fatty foods, right or wrong. Afterwards, I would receive comments all the time about how people wished they looked like me after having a baby (or two), but in the early months all I could think about was the struggle, the fear, I had faced. I might even tell them about this in a simple, “I did everything I could to gain weight but couldn’t” because it’s true. And when they say “I wish I had that problem,” I think, ‘No you don’t’. I’m going to say that people may be envious of me but I don’t feel I should be envied. I wouldn’t wish the worry I went through on anyone. Yet, it was only in this space of time that I felt I met society’s standards of beauty. I have long had the thought in the back of my mind that I don’t meet those standards because I’m too little. This struggle isn’t a recent one, it’s one I’ve faced for years.
I remember when the health craze hit society. It was a wave of diets and counting calories. Meal replacement drinks and an escalation in gym memberships. The skinnier the better. Or at least that’s how it appeared to me. At the time I was in my pre- and early teen years. I was aware enough to see what was going on but to not really be affected by it apart from wanting strong abs (which I gained and didn’t maintain).
Then came the articles and ads of how this new diet crazed world was a bad thing for girls. This world was giving young girls a bad body image. Maybe it was but I wasn’t one of them. What followed didn’t give me a bad body image but I did become embarrassed about my weight. When it came up I would duck my head and mumble the number. I’d smile sheepishly and my cheeks were probably pink. Even now, years away from those early years, I’m often reluctant to talk about my weight. I can even be reluctant to talk about healthy eating and exercise. Why? Because while those ads and articles were trying to build up the confidence in other girls, I was reading a different story.
Before I go any further, I want to say specifically that the issue wasn’t about building other girls up at all. It’s not about telling other girls there is nothing wrong with their body type, because we do need that. Nobody should be killing themselves to reach an “ideal”. Our bodies are what our bodies are. They fluctuate and can be healthy or ill depending on how we care for them but we cannot change what healthy looks like for our body type. Read that again. And again. Got it? If not read it again. If you do then please continue.
In the post-diet crazed world, bigger became celebrated. Wanting to be skinny became like a dirty little secret, if you wanted it you didn’t say it. And for people like me, well we didn’t fit in that world either. I read a write up from another woman who is “little” in which she stated that society made her feel wrong because of her naturally thin physique. Reading that I had an “Aha” moment and immediately empathized with her. I, too, felt that society had made me taboo simply because I was born with a small body.
I’ve felt good about myself but in the back of my mind there’s this caution area and in that area there’s a warning that tells me to be careful of how I present myself. In all honesty, I think it’s rude to call someone fat. If I have to describe someone who is overweight I try to use another word and even then I’m reluctant to say it. I don’t remember when I started thinking this way, I just do. Maybe part of it comes from being smaller than the majority of the population around me. Another thing is I don’t talk about how small I am unless it’s about my height. I may dress according to my size but I won’t often talk about it. I was once trying on a pair of jeans that were too big for me, I made a weight loss joke and my friends laughed. I laughed. I also immediately felt horrible for making the joke.
Here’s the thing, I may be small but I still have to work to keep a toned body. Being skinny doesn’t immediately mean healthy or toned. It just means that’s my body type. I can’t change that. No one can. That’s something I’ve had to come to terms with. I’ve had to learn to live with my body just like everybody else. So when you see me, please don’t just look at my size. Don’t compare yourself to me, it’s unfair to both of us.