You always see these articles online with titles like “What It’s Like To Be The Average Looking Friend” or “How It Feels To Be Fat And Black” but you very rarely see an article depicting what it’s like to be the skinny friend. Until today that is.
I’m the skinny friend and I’m about to change your perspective on those women you judge and envy on the sidewalks. I’m one of those tall, skinny, blonde, blue-eyed girls that everyone nicknames ‘The American Dream’ or ‘Miss Barbie’ – one of my actual nicknames is Barbie. I don’t enjoy it at all, it makes me uncomfortable and I don’t really know how to respond when someone shouts “Hey Barbie!” from across the hallway.
Here’s how conversations with new people I meet go down:
Stranger: “Hey, do you play fill-in-the-blank sport…OH MY WORD YOU DON’T WHY NOT YOU’RE SO TALL AND PERFECT FOR IT.”
Me: “I’m not. I can’t even touch my toes or do a pushup, I hate to break it to you.”
Stranger: “Do you model? You have the perfect body/face/look for modelling! My cousin’s best friend’s sister-in-law models; I could get in touch with them if you want!”
Me: “Sorry, no. I don’t model either. My parents are against it, as they believe I’d be put in too many suggestive/inappropriate situations.”
Ever since I was very little, the first thing people would notice about me was my naturally thin frame as well as my bright blonde hair. No one ever said, “What a smart young girl,” which I was. No one ever said, “I think it’s great that you read so much,” or “What are you thinking about?” Comments were only ever regarding my looks which made me believe that my looks were the most important thing about me. It also made me feel like I needed to take extra care of myself because I didn’t want people to comment when I looked ‘off’.
When I hit puberty I got even more stares and comments. I constantly felt violated even walking down the hallway in school. It doesn’t help that I have a natural swing to my hips when I walk. Up until I was 13 I weighed 100lbs and was a size 0. I cried when I went to the doctor for a physical and she told me I weighed 102.7lbs. I cried for being over 100lbs – does anyone else notice something wrong with that picture?
By the time I was 15 or so, I had hips. The things just couldn’t be avoided, especially in my skinny jeans. Guess what people (even women) say when they aren’t sexualising and objectifying my body, “WHAT HIPS?! YOU DON’T HAVE ANYTHING YOU LITTLE TWIG. GO EAT A HAMBURGER.” I don’t really like hamburgers, thanks anyways. Yeah, my hips may not be that big in comparison to yours or other women but for my frame they’re pretty big dang hips. Why are you being so cruel to me? Why are you accusing me of eating disorders? Why are you telling me I’m not a real woman?
Skinny shaming does exist and it hurts. I’d stay up night after night, poking and prodding at my body, wondering what was wrong with it. I didn’t want people to accuse me of eating disorders but I didn’t want them to point out that I was gaining weight either. I didn’t want people to tell me what they wanted to do to my body. I didn’t want to feel like a sex object for disgusting, middle-aged men to ogle at. I was so self-conscious of my body because people, even strangers, felt the need to stop and comment on my looks. I started to see fat where there was none and tell myself I should skip lunch because I always eat too much. Why did I let people have so much control over my emotions and how I treated my body? Why did I care what those people thought? Why did I cry over the fact that someone asked me “How on earth could you have stretch marks?!” I don’t know how. maybe because I grew, just like everybody else on this flipping planet?!
I’ve spent so many years hating my body. I told myself that I was purposefully treating my body badly and that I needed to start eating more. I told myself that I needed to be kinder to my body in all aspects. It’s been the biggest struggle, learning to love myself and gaining weight – I’m 115lbs now. I feel grossly overweight some days and I have to remind myself that I can still see my hip and collarbones. I remind myself that it doesn’t matter how many stretch marks I have, how many bones are sticking out, how pale my skin is, how much I choose to eat in one day – I’m a lovely person and I am more than my looks. All that matters is that I’m trying to be healthy.
So, next time you go judging that beautiful, slender woman walking down the sidewalk – think twice. Chances are she has just as much insecurity about her body as you do. Whether you think she should or not is irrelevant. As we all know, we are our own harshest critique. Everyone is on a journey to love themselves.
“Are you anorexic?” “You look like a skeleton with how pale and skinny you are!” Comments like this stay with people for years. Build people up, don’t tear them down.