by Elizabeth G.
If you’ve seen me, you would probably say I am skinny enough. I would disagree.
- My jeans don’t fit. And dresses. Heck, even shirts. Since last year, I’ve gone from a size 4 to a size 6. Sure, that’s just one size. But what it really means is I’ve gained 4 inches on my waist, and I’d love to lose them.
- In the last year, I’ve gained 10% from my healthy weight from 2013. Have you ever felt an additional 10%? It’s not comfortable.
- My midsection wiggles when I walk, and it’s not comfortable. This isn’t even actually a weight thing, it’s a tone thing. I haven’t been able to do a decent set of proper sit ups in years, and I’d like to have abs again.
- My cholesterol is through the roof. Like over 260. That puts me in the “high risk” category for heart disease, despite what the scale says.
- I eat like crap. I eat a lot of fast food, fatty food, sugary food, and not nearly enough veggies. Switching to a healthier diet alone is going to strip off some pounds.
- I live a mostly sedentary lifestyle, which isn’t good no matter what your waistline.
- You can appear skinny and be unhealthy.
Despite all these facts, when I tell friends and family that I’m working hard to be healthier and lose weight, the reaction I inevitably get is: “But you’re so skinny!”
I get eye rolls when I pick a salad with grilled chicken over a burger and fries. I get snarky laughs when I lament that I’ve been too busy to go to the gym. Newsflash: you probably know nothing about my lifestyle.
I get it. You think you’re being flattering. But you’re not. You’ve made an assumption about my health or my goals based on the size you think I should be, but that’s not what I want. I want your support in living a healthier lifestyle.
I get that you’re worried that I’m anorexic, or have a body image issue. Most people aren’t close enough to me to make that judgement call, and if that’s what you’re worried about, reinforcing my skinniness as a positive quality isn’t helping.
Just as it’s inappropriate to make comments on someone’s lifestyle or goals if you think they’re overweight, it’s inappropriate to make a judgement call about my body goals if you think I’m “skinny enough.”
So next time someone tells you that they have a goal to gain weight, lose weight, spend more time at the gym, or improve something about themselves that will make themselves feel better, be supportive.* If you want to help, ask how; don’t assume.
*Unless you legitimately think they have an eating disorder/are in serious danger, in which case an intervention or serious conversation is more appropriate and effective than comments on their skinniness. Remember, eating disorders are mental disorders too and can’t be “willed” away.