13.5: Too Skinny

January 12, 2013

Normally I wouldn’t publish something that can be construed as political, but in this instance I feel that I have an obligation to say something.

I’m 22 years old, and I can’t reach far back enough into memory to a time where adults haven’t teased me for my lack of weight. I’m too skinny, I need to put meat on my bones, I should consider switching diets, and this has all been a subject of discussion at too many dinner parties.

It’s never a good idea to self-diagnose yourself, but if I had to guess, the incessant teasing and focus on my weight by others has contributed to any potential insecurities of mine. Much like calling an overweight person fat doesn’t fix the problem, calling an underweight person skinny doesn’t compel him or her to eat more — in my experience it has the opposite effect.

My resentment of being told that I’m too skinny has damaged my self image and I view being 120 lb at 5’8″ as too heavy. I’ll go days where I eat less than a full meal to try to get my weight closer to 110 lb if I notice that I’m nearing what I feel is heavy. I know that this behavior isn’t healthy, but if I’m not motivated to eat at all, what can I do?

I know that adults who tease skinny kids about being too skinny don’t mean any harm, I’m not implying that there’s malice in their jest. However if you’re an adult that has teased a kid for being too skinny, be aware that you aren’t special at least in that regard. It isn’t witty nor funny, particularly to the person you might be doing long-term damage to.

I didn’t start experiencing weight-related insecurities until I was probably 20 years old. The age is probably different for everybody, but if you’re underweight and you face this endless teasing, there will come a time when you realize that your favorite meals are spent alone.

Does every underweight kid face being teased for his or her weight? Probably not. We all grow up in different environments around different people, and some people understand that teasing someone for being too thin is on par with teasing someone for being too heavy.

I’m on my own path to fixing my problems. I meditate when I can, I vent when it’s appropriate, and since last month I’ve been unashamedly assertive when it comes to this whole issue. I hope that I turn out alright.

I don’t want to see kids who have a speedy metabolism develop the insecurities that I’m working on. If you’re someone who thinks that it’s okay to drill into a kid’s mind that he or she is too skinny, use me as an example of what that can do, and come up with different things to talk about at dinner. It’s better for everyone, and might make a skinny kid’s life a little bit better.

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