My kids are all long and lean. They get it from their father. He’s never known what it is like to struggle with losing weight because he struggles with the opposite. His whole life he’s tried to keep weight on his thin frame by lifting weights, making changes to his diet, and drinking weight-gainer shakes.
He was self-conscious of being thin. I can tell my kids may struggle with the same body issues.
They have all been teased by classmates for being “too skinny.” My daughter has been told she has no muscle and needs to eat more, as kids taunted her about her thin arms and legs, which caused her to want to wear long sleeves and pants all year to cover up.
My teenage son lifts weights, eats raw tuna by the bowl full, and looks at old family photos and literally shames his younger self, talking about how “ugly and skinny” he used to be. He was teased, and it has impacted how he viewed himself.
Why do people who are thin try to put on weight? For the exact same reason someone who thinks they need to drop a few pounds cuts back on calories and increases their exercise: They aren’t happy with their body, and they want to change it. Believe it or not, the thing about being naturally slender is you are self conscience about your body too.
We all talk about how no one should be fat shamed, judged by their looks, or made fun of for their size. That we all come in many beautiful shapes and sizes and should be accepted regardless. But many people struggle with body image. It’s a journey to accept yourself as you are, and some of us never do.
Commenting on one’s size, what they put in their body, or what they put on their body isn’t appropriate. There’s no reason for it — it’s no one’s business.
So why do people think it is acceptable to tell anyone who veers on the thin side to “go eat a cheeseburger,” or ask them if they remembered to eat, or call them a skinny bitch? It’s just plain rude. You are treading in dangerous waters. You don’t know their story, and you shouldn’t comment on their body.
We all know if you said, “Why don’t you try snacking on some celery instead?” to someone you believed was overweight, you would be crucified. And rightfully so, but it goes both ways.
Both of these examples are extremely offensive. And just because someone doesn’t know what it feels like to be overweight doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling with being uncomfortable in their body. They may share the same feelings, and they deserve compassion.
But somewhere along the line it became acceptable to shame folks for being thin. Suggesting thin people can only achieve their body by starving themselves is not only ignorant, but can be incredibly damaging. Making comments about their body and suggesting they eat more or less can cause a huge amount of anxiety. Same goes for laughing at them while they eat, or try on clothes, or mocking their clothing size.
It’s a blow to anyone’s self-esteem to be made fun of for their body.
No one needs to be criticized for their size. And chances are, the person you are about to shame by suggesting they go eat some cheesecake because they look like a skeleton is already fighting their own demons, so keep it to your own damn self. If you feel the need to tell someone to eat an entire cake, why don’t you down one instead? That way no one gets their feelings hurt and you aren’t projecting your feelings onto another person.
And we all end up a little better for it because it’s very clear to me our kids are listening to these so-called “all in good fun” messages we are exchanging about various bodies. They think it’s okay to tell their friend they are less-than because of their size and make fun of them. I’ve seen firsthand how it can make our kids want to hide behind their clothes and change their body. It affects them mentally and physically, and it’s bullshit.
So don’t ask someone how much they eat or weigh, or dole out unsolicited advice about their body composition.
There’s so much going on in our world, in our lives, and all around us. We can come up with better things to talk about than our dress size.