Skinny People Have Feelings, Too

By Vanessa Rasanen

Imagine you’re in your office break room heating up your lunch. A coworker walks in and pulls out a frozen meal. You look at her and at the less-than-nutritious food in her hands. “You really should have a salad instead,” you note, adding a smile to let her know you mean well. She shrugs silently. “You should try to take a walk since you sit all day. It would really help you lose the weight.” She makes a comment about how she does exercise regularly, but the weight is slow to come off. “You disgust me,” you say with a chuckle so she knows you’re being funny before you walk out.

If most of you are shaking your head in disbelief, thinking this is awful harassment that  should be reported to HR, you certainly aren’t alone. I cannot imagine an office environment where coworkers struggling with their health and weight would be berated, mocked, teased, and encouraged to try harder to be healthy. Yet, somehow this is seen as acceptable to do to those on the other end of the weight spectrum.

Early on as a kid I learned skinny girls don’t have feelings. Or at least this was how everyone around me acted. I grew up hearing comments about how I needed to eat a sandwich, that I didn’t need to exercise, and that I shouldn’t worry about making healthy food choices. I was already skinny, so why did I need to focus on being healthy? What mattered most was my weight, not my health, because my figure was what counted to the world.

Sadly this has continued into adulthood and has only gotten worse as I have had children. I am regularly told that I need to eat more, and that it’s not fair that I’m still skinny after having four kids. I’ve even heard the occasional “I hate you”, always paired with a smile and a laugh so I know they’re just being funny. I smile and nod. I try to laugh it off. I even blame my family genetics for my size. I know they don’t mean to be mean, but I still struggle to shrug it off as light-hearted banter, knowing if the tables were turned it would be considered unacceptable fat-shaming.

Despite all recent efforts to show that health is more than size, we’ve somehow failed to apply this understanding to those in the lower weight ranges. As I’ve hit middle age and still battle postpartum depression, I’m choosing to do what I can to counter the effects of a lower metabolism and medication that causes weight gain with prolonged use. I’ve completely cut out soda, and cut back on alcohol and caffeine. I’ve cut back on my sugar intake and aim to walk more and be more active overall. Yet because I “look great”, I’m told I’m silly for being concerned over a sudden unexplained jump in weight.

This reaction isn’t limited to my peers either. Years ago after our second baby was born, I lost too much weight while breastfeeding. Friends rightly expressed concern and encouraged me to see a doctor to determine if hyperthyroidism might be to blame. However when I met with the doctor to request a thyroid panel, she laughed at me noting how many people would “kill to have that problem”. Being underweight is unhealthy, but thanks, doc, for making light of the situation.

I know I need to thicken my skin a bit, and I certainly need to learn the art of keeping my mouth shut and not talking to people about my personal health concerns. Yet I also want to encourage us all — regardless of our weight and health — to consider two things. First, our weight (as I stated earlier) is not the sole indicator of good health. Second, eating well and exercising regularly is beneficial to everyone.

Our bodies are a blessed gift from God, a gift we should strive to take care of so we can serve others more fully. Let’s strive to show grace and understanding to those around us and consider the words we say to one another — always remembering that some may sting no matter how much we temper them with smiles and laughs.

Cheers to you and your health!!

Photo credit. Creative Commons License

Comments

Skinny People Have Feelings, Too — 4 Comments

  1. I had a BMI of 13 while nursing my first child. I was asked repeatedly throughout high school if I was anorexic. I know exactly where you speak from, and sometimes it is nice to hear from someone else in the same boat :-)

    Not only do we have feelings, we have health problems to deal with too. I have chronic neck aches / head aches because along with skinny comes small muscles that are overworked and very hard to build up and thus constantly tense. My cholesterol hangs out in the too low range, which doctors think is sooo wonderful but without enough cholesterol, I don’t produce proper amounts of hormones to keep my cycles regular. Not wonderful. And so on.

    But I am thankful I have always been mostly content for the way God made me, and I pray if I pass anything on to my children, it will be the ability to be content in their skin, whatever its size. We all can and should work to make our bodies – God’s temples – the best they can be for his sake, but it must be a work of joy and not of anger.

  2. Tanya Arora February 12, 2018 Weight is a tricky and sensitive issue: one that’s on everyone’s mind. Part of the weekly Monday morning ritual now is not just getting ready for work, but also one’s weight on a weighing scale. And as you do, you can’t help but wonder –  am I the right weight? Well, to know that, you first and foremost need to know that there’s no proper definition of what constitutes the ideal weight of a person. You see, plenty of factors play a role in determining your ideal weight and there are several ways to calculate it too! Each method uses a different technique to calculate your weight, taking into account widely varying factors such as waist and/or hip size, your frame size, height, etc. Some commonly used ways of measuring your weight include BMI or body mass index, body fat percentage, and waist-to-hip ratio. However, the commonest and most widely accepted way of measuring one’s ideal weight is to take three major factors into account: your height, your gender, and your size.

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