Recently my life coach brought up how I am not standing in my power after I confided feelings of shrinking and hiding from life. It seemed like everyone had an unsolicited opinion to give, which made me feel small. Do you ever feel that way?
Why are you so skinny? You should eat more. When are you going to get drunk? When are you going to get a new man?
Every time I went out on the town, I was exposed to beautiful souls completely in their power, as if to reinforce the message: this could be you. From the empowered drag queens at El Convento Rico on College, to the tell-it-like-it-is, hips don’t lie gay man in Yorkville, to the overwhelming energy from an enigma at The Drake (we danced grade 6 styles and tore up No Scrubs).
It inspired me to
wax poetic rant on some truthful subjects I haven’t touched on before. I hope it comes across less as complaining and more as tough love to get us all more in our power!
A History of Feeling Self Conscious About Being Underweight
I am perpetually trying to gain 5 lbs and contrary to popular belief (“everything looks good on you”), finding clothes that fit well can be a challenge on my petite, 5 “1” frame. Before you get all “poor little rich girl”, hear me out.
I’ve been underweight since birth. In my toddler days, people accused my mom of starving me, which is far from the truth (I just refused to eat, a post for another day). My mom developed such anxiety over what people thought of us, that I developed social eating anxiety disorder by osmosis. I would worry that people assumed I was anorexic and that I had to prove them wrong by eating a lot, which ruined my appetite, creating a self fulfilling prophecy. Many restaurant visits ended in feelings of shame, frustration, anger and long periods of hiding out in the bathroom stall.
In my tweens I developed lactose intolerance. Acid reflux and IBS came in my late teens. I felt a lot of shame around my IBS symptoms, which were exacerbated by stress or anytime I lied to myself really. I didn’t accept them and in turn, neither did those around me (like my mom or first serious boyfriend), so the symptoms worsened.
I tried to control my diet to avoid digestive upset – it literally ruled my life up until February of this year. Anytime someone commented on my size, I felt like crying. I worried about wearing shorts and a tank to yoga, imagining fellow yogis silently judging (“she must be obsessed with working out“), which really defeats the point of being all “namaste”. I bought clothes that made me look fuller.
The Naked Truth (or Potentially Awkward Causes) Behind The Skinny
To make a long story short, after many medical tests that ruled out conditions like Crohns or Colitis, I focused on the psychological and nutritional components. I am more or less forced to eat clean: coffee, chocolate, milk products, alcohol and fried foods bother me and my metabolism is either German or Japanese engineered because that sh*t is efficient. Literally.
What bothers me the most is that society is too politically correct to voice when someone is overweight but has no qualms when someone is underweight, when both can be caused by mental or physical health conditions.
Call it a compliment or passive-aggressive bullsh*t but it puts me on the offensive.I feel compelled to comfort the “I want to feed you a burger” commentator with tales of my hyperactive metabolism but really, it’s not my job to make strangers feel better and no one has to know my personal business (except you my dear readers).
The Solution: Accept Your Own Body Shape & Discard The Rest
The point is to think twice before you comment about that skinny b*tch in yoga (or silently admonish that large person). Rarely is anything what it seems and everyone struggles with their shape and appearance. Where is the value in trying to relate to others based on external appearance (“You’re so pretty“. “No you are!“). What matters most is relating via heart and soul…
Anytime we make a judgement, it is generally an indication of suppressed shame or pain within us. Believe me, I learned this the hard way through shadow work post recent break up. Let’s focus instead on sending love and compassion to our own bodies, just as they are. And to everyone we come across.
And while we are at, let’s not support media outlets or brands that prey on our insecurities by cultivating a narrowly defined body image ideal.
So tell me, Am I alone on this one? Add to the conversation, whether you agree or not, in the comments!