Picture this, you’re young, not even a teenager coming into your own body and you’ve been conditioned to loathe your own body. Or, picture it as being your sister, your niece, your daughter, even your son. Would you wish that for them or anyone?
For the majority of my life, I lived in long sleeved T shirts, baggy jeans and anything that would hide my figure. Why? Because I was “too thin”. This was a body insecurity that lived on in me for years, stemming purely from cutting remarks and quick judgement’s. Now at 20 years old, it’s hard to look back on but so important that others don’t have to come to hate their bodies too over someone else’s standards.
Now, I’ll rewind a bit and go from the very beginning. As a young girl, I was always extremely thin. Although I am now able to recognise that this was through no fault of my own and was purely down to genetics. My brothers were thin, my mum was thin and so was my dad. It wasn’t hard to see that we were just all naturally thin. Completely natural. We were always well fed and always eating, but simultaneously, always running around in the countryside. I had a high metabolism, “Having a high metabolism means your body burns energy from food at a faster rate than your peers”
At school, in both Primary and Secondary, I was used to being known as the “skinny” one. At the time I perhaps didn’t realise the significance of how this would have affected me but I can now see that this only fuelled the feeling that I wasn’t supposed to be like that. What many children at the time and even adults fail to understand is that even small harmless comments made to someone about a specific thing can add up until it becomes a major insecurity. Regardless of whether it was being thin like me, or being slightly larger. Throwaway comments can make a lasting impression. I was called “Skinny Minnie”, “bones” and once told that I “had the scaffolding, just need the brickwork now”, which just made me feel more insecure because that particular comment was made by an adult.
In secondary school, during a PE lesson, I once overheard someone saying “She’s so skinny” and it made me just want to take a backseat for that game so I wouldn’t be up in front of everyone at the time. Although I had these comments said to me sometimes, I must put across that I was not bullied and had plenty of friends. It was simply what people seemed to think were harmless observations. Unfortunately for some, whether they had the same issue as me or slightly different, where they are bullied on a daily basis beyond belief, and it’s shocking.
It did not take me long, even whilst being under the age of 10 years old to want to hide what I could of my arms and legs. I had tiny wrists, tiny ankles and bony elbows and wanted them to be hidden out of sight so that they wouldn’t invoke more “observations” or attention. I lose count of the amount of times that people use their thumb and finger to link around my wrist to measure how skinny I am and what I was already aware of for their own views.
When choosing clothes, I chose tracksuits, jumpers, baggy jeans. I wore long sleeved tops in public even throughout the summer. Only in the comfort of my own home and family homes did I feel comfortable to have my arms out. I specifically chose clothes that could conceal and create an illusion that I wasn’t as slim as I appeared, even though I was. During school, my jumpers and fleeces were never removed for the same reasons.
Oddly enough, one of the few places I felt comfortable enough to wear a swimsuit and get my arms and legs out was when I was on holiday, surrounded by people I did not know and would never see again. I knew, or I thought that I wouldn’t receive comments while on holiday. Until in 2008 on a trip to Mallorca, I was sat with my family in a restaurant when a man and woman passed by, the woman looked over and said to her husband, loud enough for us to hear, that I “clearly wasn’t fed”. Despite the fact I was sat in a restaurant and eating a large burger right in front of her! Which leads me to another remark I often received about “needing a burger”, when for what they didn’t know was that I was always eating!
A couple of years ago, my best friend (who is also naturally slim) was called an “anorexic rat” by a boy just because she was defending another friend in an argument. This was completely disgusting to me that because she too was thin, that the first conclusion and insult someone could jump to was that she had an eating disorder. Having an eating disorder is not an insult. It is a serious mental issue and should be treated as such.
Fast forward to the present and I am now 20 years old and surprising even to myself, am able to dress for my own body and wear whatever I want without worrying that someone else might not like it. It took many, many years for me to reach this point and a gradual rise in confidence. I grew into my body after a while, and while I am still “skinny”, I don’t care as much as I used to. I used to shy away from dresses, but now I love wearing them and anything tighter. The reason for this was that I simply learned who to surround myself with. Those who made comments before, were gone and replaced by much nicer and more considerate people who taught me that your body shape is who you are and you don’t have to change to fit the standards of everyone else. I knew I was fed, so what did it matter that people thought I was too small.
Many when they read this will probably scoff and say “what do you have to complain about?” when there are people who are trying to lose weight. But If we all thought that we couldn’t feel a certain way because others had a contrasting view then where would we be. I was insecure and hated my body, just the same as someone who may be slightly on the larger side. It’s not a competition over who has it worse. From experience, to me calling someone skinny can have the same negative effect on someone else who has been called fat. Different circumstances maybe but the same feelings and judgement’s. This is the damage that can be made from the insensitivity of others by making unnecessary comments and judgement’s. This same damage, again from experience, can and will be overcome in time.