Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Jenna, Labor Day and the skinny on things...

Yay for Jenna starting Mothers Day Out today! Yay for me having time to blog! And get work done! And watch shows I can't watch when she's around! Yay!

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.

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  • At Tue Sep 02, 09:47:00 AM, Blogger HW said…

    My sister is underweight and she SAYS she's trying to gain but eats yogurt for breakfast, yogurt for lunch and rice and lettuce for dinner. So it bothers me that SHE says she feels bad about her body but really is not trying to change it.

    I do understand that all women have issues with their bodies and it is very rude to make comments either way. Most of the rude comments to thin women, I believe, come out of jealousy because, let's face it, it is more acceptable in our society to be thin than it is to be overweight. I am overweight and am very envious of women who are thin. But I promise I don't hate them. If I say anything it's usually, "you look so good.." or something like that.
    I'm glad you wrote that letter to the paper.

  • At Tue Sep 02, 12:48:00 PM, Blogger Sarah said…

    Bravo, bravo! Thank you for comments from the thin side!! I DO struggle with my weight -- but I'm generally winning because I WORK HARD (like, perhaps, the target of the columnist was -- she was in a gym, for pity's sake, not at Golden Corral)to fight it. I hear snipy comments, too, about being thinner than my friends. I want to tell them, "when you work out 6 times a week, come talk to me, 'till then..." I'm just a little bitter...

    I should no more have to defend my size than the Lane Bryant shoppers should -- which means: neither of us should! And, no doubt, it is SO hard to raise girls in this society to view their own body to be a beautiful gift of God. Next soap-box: shopping for a swimsuit for your 12-year-old daughter (who isn't a tiny little gymnast-y -type). Bless. Next year we'll do therapy FIRST, then shop.

  • At Wed Sep 03, 11:38:00 AM, Blogger Karen H TX said…

    I totally agree. I recently lost 30 pounds. I feel so much better. I did it for me, not anyone else. But now that I have, some women are resentful,jealous or make some rude comments. You can't seem to win no matter what size you are. I would love not "worry" about weight, but my genes are different. I have to watch what I eat and move more. But, it's worth it to be healthy.
    Check out my blog, I updated today.

  • At Wed Sep 03, 12:19:00 PM, Blogger Kayla Hewitt said…

    Thank you! I totally agree with you. In high school, I was very thin without really trying. I also had a weird schedule, so my lunch period wasn't until 2:30 p.m. I would usually eat a small snack in one of my classes. One day my teacher said, "I don't know how you stay so thin. Every time I see you, you're eating." I was very embarrassed. Another teacher stopped me in the hall one time and asked if I was anorexic. Any attention drawn to your body as "abnormal" is uncomfortable, especially when you are a teenager. Most people would never ask an overweight person how they can eat so little and still be fat. Likewise, I don't think it's appropriate to ask a thin person how she can eat so much and still be thin. It's personal.

  • At Wed Sep 03, 01:39:00 PM, Blogger Beaner said…

    I'm skinny too - always have been. My favorite line is "Just wait until your metabolism slows down." Gee, thanks!

  • At Thu Sep 04, 02:31:00 PM, Blogger NinjaPrincess said…

    It's sad that so much of how we view each other is based on how we look.
    Thanks for shedding light on a part of the story that largely remains untold.

  • At Fri Sep 12, 05:23:00 PM, Blogger Vicky said…

    Kuddos to you for an excellent post. No one should have to defend their weight.

    All my life I was extremely thin. In college, my friend would find candy bars and chips all over my dorm room.

    It turned out that my body used an exorbitant amount of calories battling my inner demons brought on by childhood abuse.

    Fast forward and I am 40, normal weight and free of the past.

    Fast forward and I am 48, dx'd with multiple sclerosis and put on 80 pounds due to steroids.

    All this to say, no matter whether I was thin or fat, all the comments left me feeling bad.


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