You’re brittle and straining
Transparent and weak.
A ghost of a smile
Fading before your poisoned eyes
A skeleton locked in a treasure cove.
You live amongst valleys and ridges
Not hills, rounded and lush and lovely
But thrusting peaks
Sharp and wicked and demanding.
Living in a world
Defined by our fragility and
Consumed with our anxiety.
Running circles in a vortex of
Questions and jests, the
Accusing and self-deprecating who
Love to hear themselves speak.
We’d better hibernate come winter.
Curl ourselves away from the owl’s eyes
And Mudwasp lies.
Hide so the cruel, bitter wind doesn’t
Whisk us off with the rest of
The Broken leaves.
Now why the tears, my Tender Snowflake?
They drink in your fineness.
They all call you thin.
don’t remind me.
When I was fifteen going on sixteen I was really depressed about my weight, but not for the usual reasons. I’ve always been thin. I have thin genes, a high metabolism, and I started dancing when I was eight. I was one of the smallest in my group of friends in high school. My best girls all had gorgeous, voluptuous curves – bodies I would have killed to have – and several of them faced the body issues society imposes on larger women. Then I had my growth spurt – I shot up 3-4 inches but only gained 2 pounds. When strangers met me they would first and foremost remark on how skinny I was. They would say things that made me feel like a reminder of their self-perceived imperfections. They would make little snipes and comments about my eating habits, making snoopy inquiries and judgmental implications. If anyone knows me, they know I’m a pig. I love food, which almost made me feel worse.
I remember putting on the long black dress I wore to the heartthrob dance that year and bursting into tears. When I looked in the mirror all I saw was bone. I thought I looked sickly and asked my friends to let me know if they ever thought so. I don’t eat much when I’m depressed, and of course I didn’t make that connection until college. So when I realized I was eating less and less I panicked and asked my doctor if it was possible to have an eating disorder without consciously making the decisions that go along with them. That’s not a thing, but it was a very real concern of mine at the time.
I was also in that stage where every girl wants a boyfriend and was convinced that my lack of success had to do with my nonexistent boobs&ass. I remember our sixth grade history teacher talking about different time periods where larger women got the husbands because they had bodies more suited for bearing children and were thought to be more proficient at providing their husbands with hearty meals. Everyone joked about how I would always be single. Even now there are people who say that curvy women are the “real women”, which is infuriating. It took a long time for me to believe that skinny can be sexy and just as long for me to appreciate the possession of “willowy elegance.”
Over time I’ve come to appreciate the curvelessness of my body and can even say I’m happy with the way I look. But there are still times I’ll wear something that highlights my boniness and I’ll cringe and change my clothes. And because my bones protrude from my body there are certain warmups or moves in dance or yoga that are painful for me and cover me in bruises. I also can’t do a regular somersault. Also, being skinny does NOT necessarily mean I’m in shape. I constantly feel the need to make this clarification.
While I may be more accepting of my body, I still try to stick to environments that don’t make me feel guilty for being thin. My first week of college someone asked me if it was my genetics or if I worked out regularly, and she wasn’t accusatory or disgusted when my answer was the former. I still don’t like the question, but she was so polite and genuinely interested in a conversational way that I wanted to squeeze the life out of her in a hug. I still get exceptionally uncomfortable when people talk about my weight. Comparisons make me want to scream. I don’t know why I felt like sharing this story with you today. Maybe it’s because I chopped all my hair off yesterday and am feeling strangely empowered. Every woman (and man) should find something about themselves that’s empowering. It does wonders for the mood 🙂
It’s frustrating when people say us skinny folk don’t have a right to be insecure about our bodies. I will never claim to have faced the same discrimination or judgements other women have and will never pretend to know what it’s like to be in their shoes. But to say I don’t have a right to talk about body issues is denying me the right to my own story which isn’t something that should ever be done to anybody.
In a perfect world no one would find anything to be self-conscious about. But it’s not a perfect world. Don’t trivialize someone’s insecurities just because they’re not yours. Everyone has their own journey. Let’s try to respect that. And going further, let’s move toward a world where everyone can rightfully see beauty in every various form. Because to those reading this (and to those who are not), you are beautiful. I can promise you that.