Skinnyfat ever heard of it? You probably haven’t, that’s ok. It’s a word I coined, and I’m just waiting for Webster’s to get back to me when they are going to publish it in their dictionary. Since that could take awhile, you know “due to Covid, all representatives are currently working remotely”, I thought I would provide you with an in-depth preview that I think you should read.
We need to talk about something that is never talked about. The reason it’s not discussed is because nobody sees it as an issue, or better yet it isn’t seen as an actual problem. In fact it is an issue that many people struggle with and the effects can be damaging. Body shaming isn’t just for overweight people so stop talking about my kids with your complimentary words. Those good-hearted words are actually hurtful and cut like a knife.
We are taught early on to choose our words properly and to think about how they would make someone feel. What happens when words that appear to be complimentary are actually derogatory, mean, and down right hurtful?
You’re so skinny. Little twig. Thin as a rail. You don’t even cast a shadow. Must be nice to be so thin. I wish I had that problem. You’re so lucky to have a fast metabolism. Those things all sound harmless, right? What if they are followed by comments like, “Do you eat?!” Or, “You need a couple cheeseburgers”. (usually followed with a quick chuckle). Does that change the way you perceive the conversation?
I could go on and on with the things people have said about growing up skinny. I’m willing to bet 99% of people who make comments don’t think for one second about what they are saying. Being thin is awesome, right? It’s what everyone wants to be. This is a particularly prominent body shape when we live in a society that is seen through the perfect filters of social media, so why would anyone see this as a bad thing? Models are skinny, Hollywood is skinny, 2 million people have blogs, vlogs and websites about making themselves skinny. So obviously this is what we are supposed to be.
Let’s flip the script for a moment. Would you turn to a person you perceive as overweight, and say things like, “You’re so fat” or “Wow, you are huge” or “Maybe you should skip dinner tonight”. If I’m having trouble even typing those things, I hope nobody would actually say them. Yet for very thin or underweight people, things that are said to them are just as hard to hear and process, and produce the same type of negative body perception.
Being super skinny is NOT a blessing, it’s NOT easy, and it’s NOT always beautiful.
You’re probably thinking this is the craziest thing you’ve ever read, you work our ass off to lose 5 pounds and I’m here complaining about naturally being thin. You’re right, and that’s why I’m talking about it!
My kids have always been tiny. We as parents genetically failed them. Read that again? Imagine that, imagine feeling as though you genetically failed your child by creating naturally thin humans. I’ve lost count as to the amount of times I’ve said this. I cringe when I hear people start to talk to or about my kid’s body shapes, and in order to take the negative focus off of them I turn it onto me, as if their body shape was something I purposely created.
Imagine you’re a sophomore in high school and you decide to put your pride aside for the sake of giving your mom her moment, and enter the school’s fundraising fashion show with her. You show up to the department store to try on your fashion show attire, along with 10 other high school boys, and can’t find anything that fits you. The advisor steps in and says “Oh goodness you’re so tiny we will have to go check the children’s department for you”, as if that’s cute or sweet! Hell no! That’s embarrassing and demoralizing, especially to a 16 year old boy. Not to say that the children’s department doesn’t have nice things, but I’m pretty sure no 16 year old wants to be rocking a smocked Easter bunny sweater down the runway.
Or how about being 3 months into cancer treatment when people start commenting on how great it is to see you finally putting on weight. I’m sorry what??? This kid takes extremely high daily doses of steroids that could take down a horse. He has gained 40 pounds of water weight, and you could pop him with a pin, and NOW you say things like “it’s nice to see you with a little weight on your bones”. Shame on you!
I have watched my kids be called names, excluded from sports, laughed at, questioned their ability to perform physical tasks, asked about their eating habits and health. I’ve listened to parents and coaches make comments about other children too, and it breaks my heart. Judging someone based on their physical appearance rather than their abilities is wrong – STOP!
I’m going to give you 7 compelling reasons to reconsider your words before you comment on a person’s weight – or better yet, lack thereof…
People assume you have an eating disorder
The first impression people have when they meet you is that you must have some kind of an eating disorder. How else could someone possibly so thin? This can’t possibly be natural. This is because the answer to their question is easy to answer in their mind, if they focus on a negative aspect. It’s a natural human reaction to believe something that appears off, is bad.
People assume you are using drugs
This usually has the same thought process as having an eating disorder. One of the first things people think of when they think of a person suffering from addiction is underweight or malnourished.
It is ridiculously hard to buy clothes
Imagine walking into a store and seeing the perfect pants, but when you try them on the only way they fit your waist, is if they are 4 inches too short. Everything you buy needs to be tailored because they don’t make 26×36 pants for men. Most of the time you need to purchase clothing online because stores don’t carry odd sizes because of the lack of need. We have Big and Tall stores but I’ve yet to find an extra small and tall shop.
People think their comments are flattering
Everyone assumes that words like skinny and tiny are flattering. When a person is constantly told how slender they are, especially when they aren’t trying to be, those words invoke self esteem issues.
You can’t change your metabolism
Unless someone has severe medical issues due to their metabolism, there is nothing you can do to change the way your body naturally processes the intake of calories. Your body is always tired because of the rate of speed your body is burning through the calories you put into it. Having a fast metabolism is normal and perfectly healthy…period.
There’s no difference between boys and girls
There is a misconception that girls care more about their body image than boys. That is FALSE! Boys and girls alike have self esteem and body perception concerns. Don’t think that boys don’t care, they very much do too.
There are damaging mental effects of comments
The comments may not initially cause harm, but over time these words are internalized and have the same impact as physical bullying does. When a person hears things that they perceive as negative, over and over, they begin to believe it as truth.
You get teased/stared at/laughed at
This right here is the truth! Tormenting someone because of their size is unacceptable. Underweight people should not be bullied because they appear easy targets.
You get excluded from sports
I’ve seen this so many times. People automatically assume based on appearance, that a person is weak, awkward, or not athletic due to their body shape. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Bodies change at different rates, and puberty can play a large role in this. Disallowing a child to participate because of their size can be detrimental to their physiological development. Allow them the opportunity to prove themself before you cast your opinion. You’ll probably be surprised!
So what is skinnyfat? Skinnyfat is the struggle to be confident in your own body because of the perception others have of you based on your size, and not what’s inside of you.
As the mom of a 6’2 135 pound, perfectly…healthy…child, I thank you personally for reconsidering your “complimentary” words…they hurt!
As the saying goes…Don’t judge a book by it’s cover!