My Battle with Weight and People’s Perceptions

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I don’t often reveal my innermost feelings on this blog but today I’d like to talk about an issue that’s affected me personally – weight!

For as long as I can remember I’ve been clinically underweight, the only time I have been a healthy weight was after the birth of my first child and now.

In my school days I was extremely underweight and many thought I was anorexic. My classmates used to taunt me with the name Anna (short for anorexic). It hurt me extremely and more than once I reached the point where I felt suicidal. I would look in the mirror and feel disgusted. My ribcages would show and my collarbones jutted out and I felt I looked like a boy. I didn’t have the same curves that most of my female classmates had and it made me feel incomplete and to be honest I felt like a freak. I would avoid PE like the plague as it involved getting changed in front of the other girls. I even faked injuries and wrote fake letters from my parents to avoid having to take part. For years and years I tried to gain weight with no luck and it really knocked my confidence. When I arrived at adulthood and got to the point where I wanted to be intimate with my partner I would only ever get undressed in the dark – never with the lights on. Even my choice of clothes was affected by my weight. I particularly hated my arms and neck area so I would opt for clothing that covered this area.

My father was always very tall and slim too so I pretty much took after him. After the birth of my children I really thought I’d gain some curves but I always returned to my size 6/8 clothes and I felt a lot of despair.

The thing that always really upset me though was people’s attitides towards me. People always assumed I was intentionally that skinny even though I wished I was bigger and people would make hurtful comments and snide remarks that often brought me to tears.

It seems to be socially acceptable to call skinny people names in a way that you wouldn’t be able to about overweight people. It’s wrong and it needs to stop. All shapes and sizes should be treated with respect regardless of their size. My treatment at the hands of others has really affected my confidence and I believe it’s why I’m so painfully shy. The writing of this blog and the community I’m now a part of has helped immensely though, so for that I have to thank you all.

Finally I’m now at a weight that I’m happy with – having gained 12 kilos and I’m now a size 10/12. I feel happier but that’s just me.

What I’m really trying to say I guess is that just because someone’s slim don’t assume its okay to call them a skinny bitch and think they won’t be affected. We all have feelings whether we’re underweight, overweight or average weight. I’ve gone through a lot of battles regarding my weight just like someone who is overweight. I’ve fought my inner demons and come to the realisation that whether you weigh less than you’d like or more we all fight a similar fight!

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Comments

  1. My aunt had terrible problems keeping weight on – she was the only one of the family to have any issues with weight – under or over. People used to constantly ask if she was ill. But more seriously what it meant was that when she really was ill, she didn’t have many reserves to draw on physically and it took her a very long time to recover – far longer than it would have if she had had more weight. A couple of years ago I just dropped a couple of stone after an illness and came to dread people saying I was thin..now that my weight is actually a bit too heavy for my personal liking I have a whole load of clothes I can’t wear! From both those experiences I try really hard not to judge when people are super skinny.

  2. I can empathize with your experience because I used to have a coworker who was naturally on the very thin side and one day some guys yelled out to her on the street “ANOREXIC!” and she was clearly deeply upset by the it — I felt so sorry for her. Sizism is sizism and it’s sad that women’s (and men’s, though perhaps to a lesser degree) bodies are subject to commentary from anyone. But it just goes to show, there are nasty individuals in the world. I just hope the good outweighs the bad (no pun intended).

    Thank you for sharing your experience.

  3. It is so terrible that people judge others based on their body type. It really makes you wonder how the person making the nasty comment feels about themselves – almost as though they are so insecure in themselves they have to lash out at someone else. Sad.
    I found you through IFB – great blog!
    Much love,
    Lydia

    http://www.styleindependent.com

  4. Great post! In today’s society body image sadly is everything. We criticize people who are overweight and people who are too thin. What is the middle ground? I actually use to be obese. I lost 80 pounds and dropped 10 dress sizes. I didn’t do it to look better but for my health. I haven’t had any people really comment on my weight since I lost it. However, they did when I was heavier which is why I think I packed on the pounds to begin with (I was overweight in high school).
    Though one time which was really rude or was surprising was a year after I lost the weight I went in for a weight training consultation to tone up some muscles. The trainer actually said to me after he knew that I just lost all that weight that I should loose 20 more! I am clearly healthy and with average BMI. I would actually be underweight if I lost 20 pounds. Nevertheless, I never went back for another consultation.

    • That’s shocking. There is just so much pressure on people these days. Its no wonder eating disorders are on the rise.

  5. Taunts about the way we look are never OK! I endured my fair share as a child and teen…it is no fun, and I feel your pain. The great thing is we eventually grow up and most of us come to terms with loving ourselves the way we are, or we change what we can and feel better. And funny, most of the people who did the teasing, they never seem to fare well with aging. That I’ve noticed. Karma. :)

    I’m glad you’re in a better place!

    • Thanks V. Thankfully I’m a lot happier now, this blog and the reading of other blogs within the community have proved to be like therapy for me.

  6. I actually wrote about this a couple of weeks back, how “skinny” can be a very cruel word. I’ve been called that so many times, and weedy, and anorexic, I’ve even been told by an old friend that I need to have some food shoved into my mouth…this person is no longer my friend of course. It really annoys me how some people feel is ok to attack other people because of their weight, whether heavy, whether light, whether super heavy or super light. It’s toxic, people that label you with the skinny word and think you shouldn’t complain, that believe you have no right to moan and feel down about not being able to gain wait are people with problems themselves, jealous of you and your beauty.
    It’s not easy to just be, it really isn’t. Kudos to you for writing such personal stuff xxxx

    • Your experience pretty much mirrors mine. It’s sad that some people think its ok. I never realised you wrote about it too you must leave the link so that I and my readers can read it.

      • here it is
        http://www.fashionlimbo.com/2011/04/rant-skinny-no-more.html

        I mostly got positive comments and a lot of support, but I also had a few that said people didn’t mean it in a bad way, they are just jealous as they lust after your physique so be patient, then even a mean one insulting me and obviously trying to get a reaction, which they did: they were deleted, erased somewhere between the oblivion of cyperspace and loser-ville :P

        The whole “it’s ok to laugh at thin people because they have what I have” just has to stop..and it’s present in the media, at work, in the streets, at schools…

  7. Amazing post, I can imagine how many feelings it brought up while writing it.. Thanks for writing it.

    I myself have the same experience – I was always underweight. Even now, being 10 kilos more than during my teenage years, people ask me whether I eat anything, especially when they watch me skipping lunch. I just can’t help it, sometimes I can’t push any food through my throat (like today for example).
    I used to be very shy and hated the way I looked and it affected my teenage years very heavily. For many years my struggle was to get over it.. and thank God now I feel much, much better. I don’t care about people’s remarks anymore..
    Well, I thought I didn’t.
    Till about a month ago I saw this article one blogger wrote, about types of clothes women with small breasts should wear versus what women with big breasts should wear. When she was talking about shapes that were unflattering for girls with small breasts, she used intimidating comparisons like “your boobs will look like acne bumps” etc, while when referring to unflattering shapes for busty girls, she used “looking like a porn star” comparisons with obviously positive undertone.
    No wonder, because she talked about herself as having “a lot in bust area”. Why would she care?
    To say that I got angry, is a huge understatement. I remembered myself 15 years ago and how articles just like that affected me back then. But not only her writing annoyed me, to my surprise (or lack of it?) the readers reactions were very positive. “Hahaha! like acne bumps, so funny!”
    People are just cruel and ignorant. I wish someone had told me years ago that they all should f*ck off.
    It’s hard to believe in it when you’re a teen..

    Sorry for a long reply, I was considering writing to this blogger, writing about her article, doing anything.. and did nothing. Till now..

  8. Gosh, this makes me sad!! I’m glad you’re in a better place now, but I think about this stuff a lot. It is MORE than innapropriate to ever comment on a woman’s weight! It truly is!! I battled being very thin when I was younger, and the girls made fun of me since I was a “late bloomer’ and because I was so skinny I didn’t wear a bra until high school. They would say I was “as flat as my back.” Now that sounds totally ridiculous, but at the time it hurt me deeply. I longed for a different body. Karma happens though, and I’ve seen some of those people as adults, and well, I will leave it at that. :)

    Great post, dear! I am so glad you shared this. Thank you.

  9. I’d agree that skinny is a derogative term and should never be used.

  10. Thank you for sharing this with us, Faye. There is so much press about people who are “overweight” and what is/isn’t OK with that, I think those who are underweight, and their struggles, are usually overlooked. I am glad that you have been able to work through your self-esteem issues and that you are happy with who you are now.

    That being said, I don’t actually agree with this remark:”I t seems to be socially acceptable to call skinny people names in a way that you wouldn’t be able to about overweight people.” I don’t think it’s socially acceptable to do either, people just DO it without always realizing that it could be derogatory. In a comment above, someone deems the term “skinny” as derogatory. I would never consider it such. Skinny bitch? Yes, certainly. Skinny by itself, no. Further above someone says that likening busty women to porn stars is more positive than likening flat women to acne bumps. As a busty woman myself, I find both appalling. It’s the same way I find the term fatshionista horrible, while others love it. Similarly, the fact that their is a Plus Size Fashion Week drives me bananas. Why is that necessary?!

    Our society has a LOT of work to do before we get past the name-calling and labeling. We are all women, right? Can’t that define us on its own? As long as people keep speaking out, the way you did here – there is hope that we can get past the labels and name-calling one day. One day.

    • While I agree with the majority of your comment I disagree that skinny isn’t a derogatory term. Slim is acceptable but skinny is not. I take huge offence when someone calls me skinny even if they don’t mean it in a harmful way. skinny basically suggests someone is all ‘skin’ as they’re so thin.

      I don’t think it should be socially acceptable to call anyone skinny or fat but I know many people IRL who’ll call me ‘really skinny’ without a second thought but they would never call someone ‘fat’ to their face and that was the point I was trying to get across.

      • I see what you are saying, but at the same time, you refer to yourself as skinny and use the word a couple of times in your post. I guess that is my point – we are so desensitized to labeling that even those of us who opposed certain terms find ourselves using them. I hate labeling, yet I don’t see the negative connotation in the word skinny that you do. I’m not saying I am right – I totally see your point – I just view the word differently. I think the same could be said of the word thin or slim or fat and heavy and curvy – some people find all of those derogatory. Which is why we need to get pats the labels and start referring to ourselves as women. Our sizes don’t define us!

  11. It’s so wonderful that you were able to open up and share this with us, even as intimate as it is. I think everyone whether they admit it or not, has something if only 1 thing that they may be a bit self conscious about, or have once in the past and overcame. I don’t ever think that It’s okay to label or call names, just seems too silly, since no one is perfect, especially when it comes to someone’s appearance. We often are so affected by society where it tells us, what should be ideal and acceptable. (But, society doesn’t care about understanding the sensitivity of others who do not meet their supposed hourglass image; emotionally or physically). For me my self-confidence comes from my family, because I will never fit in the ideal image of society, but i do fit with “my” beautiful. The best part of beauty is the vast diversity (in cultures), and the fact that what one calls skinny or curvy & meant as malicious another calls it true beauty, I take the positive! I think once we find the beauty & confidence within ourselves, then despite what others may say, it will no longer matter— we know that we are beautiful. I’m truly happy that you feel alot happier now! ;)

  12. I too have been naturally slender my entire life and I ABHOR the word “skinny”!! I have had people say stuff to me too. I once even went to someone’s supervisor at work after they said to me “You’re so skinny. You’re so skinny it’s disgusting!” That was the last straw!! It is definitely not acceptable to negatively comment on people’s weight – over or under.
    Glad you are at a place where you are comfortable – I am too! :)

  13. As someone who was only 52 kgs and 5′ 8″ till a few years ago I understand what you went through. It’s only when you are skinny that you realise names like ‘broomstick’ and ‘ironing board’ can really hurt. Funnily enough when I stopped worrying about being underweight, I put on some and settled on my present size of 12 (UK).

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Fuyume – My Battle with Weight and People’s Perceptions: I loved this post by Faye of Fuyume.net. Here she opened up and gave her readers some insight into her personal struggle as someone deemed clinically underweight. She discusses the negative impact of our society’s propensity to label and categorize people based on their weight and/or body type and begs the question – when will we stop defining one another by our size? [...]

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