I’ve written and spoken many times of my clunky mistakes in the early days of body love when, in a desperate bid to over-compensate for years of magazines featuring skinny models, I insensitively wrote about ‘real’ women having curves. More fool me.
The idea of ‘skinny bashing’ is not a new one and I’ve written about it myself here.
But in a response to many of the comments on this post, I received an email from a 38 year old MM reader who once had an issue with her weight which caused her huge stress… and I thought it worth sharing.
I found it frustrating, and although I had always felt uncomfortable about my weight (or lack thereof), all of this compounded my insecurities, and, consequently, it wasn’t unusual to find me in baggy, long sleeved shirts – even when the weather was a warm 30 degrees plus outside (to hide my thin arms, of course).
I think people assumed that because I was thin, I couldn’t have possibly had any issues about my weight. Only overweight people had those. Constantly, I was referred to as “a stick”, even told I was “lucky”, but that did nothing at all for my confidence. I searched Dolly magazine every month, in between all those articles on how to lose weight in time for summer, for an article on how to gain it, to no avail. Then, towards the end of that year, something happened that, had I been a different girl, could have pushed me over the edge. (Thankfully, it did not.)
One day in my Year 9 English class, I approached my teacher’s desk to ask her a question. The room was quiet with students working – a “you could have heard a pin drop” type situation. My teacher turned to me, and without even attempting to lower her voice she asked, “Jodie – are you anorexic?” Just like that. Right in front of my peers, she asked me. I don’t remember my exact response – I think I was in shock (but it would have been an emphatic “no”).
But I remember the moment it felt as though my heart stopped for a second, and I felt every pair of eyes on me. I was, to put it lightly, mortified. Never one to want my Mum to see me upset, I broke that rule that night as I cried my eyes out with her. My Mum was furious. Not being one of those mothers to constantly call the school about the treatment of their daughter, she also broke that rule and called the principal the following day. I received an apology from my teacher, and eventually, after the drama wore down, life went on.
Back then there wasn’t really a lot of parenting advice out there on how to handle such a situation. My Mum did what she could. She gave me a lot of love and all her support, and she made me banana smoothies every day to accompany my breakfast, complete with full cream milk, full fat ice-cream, a whole banana and a raw egg, in an attempt to help “fatten me up”! Whilst the smoothies, unfortunately, did nothing for my weight, my Mum’s support was paramount, and I got through those difficult years, with very few scars, I’m happy to say.
And now, years later, I find it interesting that whenever I read about “skinny” girls in articles, blogs, whatever…nothing seems to have changed. We still assume all those who are slighter in weight must have anorexia or bulimia. Yes – to me it’s quite obvious what the difference is. I still can’t understand why people assumed I was anorexic, when I compare my body shape back then to someone who actually has the condition. We are so quick to judge, and so quick to forget that people who are “underweight” or “slim” (my preferred description) can’t possibly also be struggling with their weight.
I never judge slim girls. I’m no fool – I’m quite sure that in the modelling industry especially, there must be girls with the condition, but I feel bad for celebrities who are constantly judged, but more so for the average girl or woman who is quickly labelled with an eating disorder, simply because of her natural body shape. It has followed me for years. When I went to see my Ob/Gyn for the first time after trying to get pregnant for a while, almost the first question from his lips was “Have you lost a lot of weight recently?” (I went on to have 3 beautiful boys.)
How about we consider the “skinny girls” for a change? There are plenty out there with body issues just as great as those that are overweight, and I’ve noticed a few comments about this subject under the comments section of your featured post. I’ve also seen your “Skinny girls are liars” blog. Although I have not read the responses..I’m sure there were some good ones!!!
And in case you’re wondering what happened with my Yr 9 teacher. Years later, in my late teens (and more accepting of my body shape) I went out one night to try a new restaurant with a group of friends, and who should turn out to be the owner?
My ex-Year 9 English teacher and her husband. How’s the irony in that?! I remember her looking quite uncomfortable when she noticed me at first which, to be honest, I was quite happy about. And then I made sure I ate three courses, finishing my plate each time, and didn’t make one toilet stop (because by then, many knew about the effects of bulimia and I wasn’t about to let her start thinking I could have that too!!!).
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