Jenna, Labor Day and the skinny on things...
We usually do something as a family for Labor Day, but this year, it was just Chad and me. The girls stayed with a friend from church and we went up to Heber Springs to stay at a cabin that belongs to some friends of ours. (I've decided to always have friends who will keep my kids and friends who own cabins.) Sunday night, we drove over to Eden Isle Pike and ate at the Red Apple Inn. Other than that, we slept a lot and watched Gustav updates on TV to make sure our Beaumont, Baytown and Houston friends and family weren't getting blown away. Oh, and we played Mario on the old Nintendo -- one of my favorite things to do at the cabin.
Now for my latest soapbox, which I promise to blog about this one time and then not bring up again. I PROMISE. Something's been nagging at me and I think if I blog about it, I'll have some peace.
Last week, a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette wrote about a woman she sees at the gym. The woman has apparently had several children and is still thin and in great shape. The columnist kept using words like "alien" and "anomaly" to describe this woman since she doesn't appear to be lugging around any baby weight. I looked up "anomaly" to make sure I was understanding it right. My dictionary defines it as "peculiar" or "abnormal."
All right. Can we talk about this for a second?
Let me lay it all out so you'll know where I'm coming from. I don't weigh what I did in high school (I was ridiculously thin back then), but I do weigh less than I did before getting pregnant with my first child. My jeans size is still in single digits. I've never had to struggle with my weight, and I realize I am blessed.
The truth is that thin people still have issues about their bodies and can be sensitive to negative comments. Here are some examples from my own experience:
1) "I hate you because you're skinny." Or "You make me sick." I got this a lot in high school. Not so much now, which is good because I never figured out a way to respond to it.
2) "How did you get so skinny?" This is usually accompanied by what I call "The Onceover" -- a frowning person looking you up and down like something has got to be terribly wrong with you. I still get this one, and I don't know how to respond to it, either. I've thought about telling these people that I have stomach cancer, because that would be easier to explain than the truth: this is just the way I am.
3) "She has GOT to be anorexic." This wasn't said to me, but about me by a group of girls at my high school who didn't realize I was in a stall in the bathroom they had gathered in. I hid back there until they were gone because I didn't want them to know I had heard.
The truth is that no one, no matter what they look like, wants to have their body picked apart and criticized by people using words like "hate" and "alien" and "abnormal." Or "skinny bitch," as the classy Joy Behar so often calls us. There is an assumption that thin people have no issues about their bodies, and it's not true.
There is a more significant issue here. Here's part of the letter I wrote to the columnist:
"What I truly hate about our society is that when it comes to body
types, women can't win. If we're overweight, we're criticized and
ridiculed. If we're not overweight, we're ostracized and considered
fair game for comments such as the ones I listed above. This doesn't
happen to men, and it's not fair."
Why can't society just leave us -- and I mean ALL of us -- alone? I'm trying to raise girls in this craziness...girls who, no matter what they grow up to look like, will at some point be made to feel bad about the way they look.
What I have learned over the years is that true friends don't care about what you look like. Real friends will never ask why your body looks a certain way, or say that they hate you or you sicken them because of the way you look. I just wish we could all view each other this way and forget about what we all look like.