It’s that time of year again where people are making resolutions on the 2013 New Year. Many will make diet promises….but what of the skinny folk? I know what you’re thinking….”Shut up with your little skinny girl blog post…I don’t want to hear it!”…but hear me out on this one. Just like being on the ‘thick’ side, the ‘scrawny’ side has its own unique experiences. It takes a lot of backbone to bring this up….and I have plenty of protruding backbone. So, let’s start with the comical and blend in the psychology.
Take a recent exchange:
Former Boss: “Look at you….you’re still a skinny bitch aren’t you?”
Could you ever replace the word ‘skinny’ for ‘fat’ in this sentence and still continue a friendly conversation? Just sayin’
Here’s another example:
“You’re so skinny…you make me sick.”
Again…replacing the word ‘skinny’ with ‘fat’ would earn you a well-deserved slap…but keep it as is and it’s intended to be a complement.
I’m used to this double standard and can wholeheartedly laugh about it. Once in college I called one of those medical studies to see if I could earn a few bucks. When the lady asked me my weight she said, “Yeah….maybe eat some fries and shakes and call back.” Again….on the flipside…if an overweight person called and heard “Yeah…maybe lay off the fries and shakes and call back”…I think there’d be some sort of lawsuit in the works.
A few weeks ago, somebody asked me if I was a runner. I practically laughed in her face. See…in high school I ran a ’10 minute’ mile. I remember looking bewildered seeing my ‘smoker’ friend pass me. I’d end up cheeks flushed, pains in my side, short of collapse into the field. So…no..not a runner…not even a jogger…really not all that into cardio as I need to hold tight onto every calorie that I absorb. Which takes me to the gym.
A skinny person in the gym enters with the same thought as an overweight person…”What the hell am I doing here?” While the overweight person regrets that last meal, the skinny person forgot to eat it before entering the gym. Or maybe just me…..I’d make it there by some miracle. Kids in the nursery or on my way home from an outing. Then it would dawn on me that my personal trainer told me to always work out on a full stomach. I would walk past the treadmills and bikes to stretch a few minutes…then off to reset all the machines down to 20-40 lbs.…do you still spray if you don’t break a sweat?…probably. If done right I would get a burst of energy afterwards…all while realizing that it takes some fat to turn into muscle…but still feeling a boost of endorphins.
There are a couple annoying drawbacks to being skinny. Like the fact that you don’t outgrow anything…so it’s up to you to get rid of clothes because they are way out of style. You have a hard time finding anyone except 10 year old nieces to give away your hand me downs to. You awkwardly accept a bag of clothes outgrown by a 14 year old. After having a baby, you hastily give away all of your size 3 jeans 6 month post baby….only to have to repurchase 6 months later….o.k. that one deserves a slap in the bony face.
There are two categories of skinny for girls…. Skinny with boobs and skinny without boobs. The former being somewhat more socially acceptable than the latter. In middle school….after first admiring my picture….a boy commented that I looked smaller than my picture. I’m pretty sure he meant that he thought I was taller with boobs….I obviously went on to date him. Later in high school…a boy told me that ‘If I put on 10-15 lbs. he’d ‘get with me’. I did not go on to date him…too much work. Is that how it feels when you’re fat and someone tells you that you are ‘pretty in the face…if only you lost 20 lbs.’?….maybe. Alas, people spend thousands of dollars to add on fat or taketh away fat in various places…..I jokingly suggest ‘fat transplants’.
I wonder if anyone else out there caught the show ‘Super Size vs. Superskinny ‘? It was a show from the UK that played on the OWN network. We downgraded our cable, so I don’t get OWN anymore. Just like the lady on ‘Extreme Cheapskates’ who pees in a jar…we save $10 a month. It makes about as much sense as the lady who pees in the jar when I miss a good show on occasion. Anyways…on ‘SuperSize vs Superskinny’ the participants swap diets for a bit, starving one…stuffing the other….then a dietician comes in and gives them their ideal diet. One loses weight…the other gains…harmony is restored. Like ‘Magic Mike’ is to male strippers….’Superskinny’ was a nice little tribute to the rare breed.
Once in awhile I’ll forget how thin I can get….you heard me. It’s reminiscent of the time last year when I pulled in to the bar parking lot to meet with my high school friends in my mini van. I realize that it happened…over time…I had four kids…and drive a French fried floored…car seat clad…handprint smudged symbol of motherhood….but I hadn’t been paying attention until it was so blatantly obvious. Sure…I drove a mini van in high school, but that defeats my point. Just like an overweight person who sees a picture that betrays what they see in the mirror, underweights are susceptible. Which brings me to my Britney Spears spoof.
“Oops… I did it again”
”Oops… I Did It Again…..I got way too thin..
Lost too much baby weight… no more babies…baby.”
Oops…I better eat up…drink protein shakes from a cuuupp.
In all seriousness, I know that eating disorders are very real dysfunctions in society. Every fall in the child development course I teach, we cover eating disorders in adolescence. I have never had an eating disorder, though I’ve had to defend this. I suggest someone read Portia de Rossi’s book entitled, “Unbearable Lightness” to better understand eating disorders. Portia talks first about losing weight when modeling, later doing things like doing lunges across the house to burn calories, measuring her food, control issues with food that shows the manipulation of an eating disorder. My husband knows a man who doesn’t like other people watching him eat out in public, I know girls who’ve had eating disorders. Not a laughing matter at all. Even now reading this, people range from always being skinny, to never being skinny, to once being skinny and trying to get somewhere back there. There are true feelings around weight and body image.
When people ask me, “How do you stay so skinny?” I do ( internally) laugh because no one would say, “How do you stay so fat?” and then I laugh it off by saying that I chase after the kids and they steal my food. This is not even me being sarcastic. I do chase after the kids and they take my food. I like to eat when I can relax…I’ve never been a picky eater, but in reality I’m a bit of a food snob. I like to go out to eat, order the salad, appetizer, dinner, and desert…have leftovers and indigestion for a couple days. That’s the whole ‘forget that I’m skinny’ thing again…except not only do I forget that I’m skinny…I forget that I’m a skinny WHITE girl. I order things with too much spice and seasoning that my small Caucasian stomach rebels and curses me later. So yes, maybe I turn my nose up at the generic mac and cheese I just served the kids or the hamburger helper I prepared for my husband….I’m holding off for the elaborate steak and lobster dinner…indefinitely. On vacation I eat like a fat person….I seldom go on vacation.
I suppose like the overweight, the underweight can follow the amount of food they eat as one source of the ‘issue’, though genetics do play a great deal of the part. Being the skinniest in the family might feel like being the tallest…you play the ‘genetic pool’ game and say things like “My paternal uncle is 6’4”…I guess there’s where I get my height.” I’m not exactly sure who I get my frame from, but I do know which kid of mine takes after me. Poor guy…has my skinny but hopeful arms….thin legs…as well as my tendency to distract away from hunger cues and block out the world at will. No matter which foods, drinks, or medication he will intake, he is destined to be thin. While his more muscular older brother will continue developing his athletic build and his younger brother will be careful not to let his tummy grow doughy with his blurting of ‘I’m hungry and I want cake’ during late night T.V. watching, my middle son will be destined to be offered extra sandwiches and slices of pizza at parties.
Now truth be told…when people go so far as to say they can’t tell I have four kids….there are the signs. The ever so slight widened hips, the forever-changed belly button, small stretch marks, the extra skin that I can softly hide with a certain postures…but slouch in a bikini and then ask your kindergartener to come over, point, and count the tiny lines. Maybe it’s just the four screaming kids emerging out of the French fried floor, car seat clad, handprint smudged van that gives it away. You know the ones who either follow me or I chase them around…while they eat my food. Some will think it’s lucky to have memories of being in a size 6x (a girl’s size 6x) for what seemed to be five years, lucky to be in her mid 30’s curiously waiting for the metabolism to slow down. I can laugh about it. Last skinny moment…I promise.
McDonald’s Clerk: “Would you like skim or whole milk with your Peppermint Mocha?”
Me: “I’ll take the whole milk…I can use whatever calories I can get…people would talk.”
It is what it is…the skinny on being skinny.