I want to delete these two words from the world, skinny and fat. I was perusing pinterest last night before I went to bed and kept stumbling across these “Thinspirational” images.
Can I just take a second to define skinny and fat?
Skinny: (of a person or part of their body) very thin.
Synonyms: thin, scrawny, scraggy, bony, angular, rawboned, hollow-cheeked, gaunt, as thin as a rake, skin-and-bones, sticklike, emaciated, waiflike, skeletal, pinched, undernourished, underfed.
Fat: (of a person or animal) having a large amount of excess flesh.
Synonyms: plump, stout, overweight, large, chubby, portly, flabby, paunchy, potbellied, beer-bellied, meaty, of ample proportions, heavyset.
Neither of these words sound constructive. When you refer to someone as skeletal, what are you really saying? Or how about when someone is heavyset? Body image is a serious problem and we need to fix it. I seriously want to omit skinny and fat from our vocabularies and this is why; calling yourself or others skinny or fat is self destructive. I have struggled with my body image for most of my life. It started when I was a kid and I let it stop me from seeing myself as beautiful, I let it hinder the way I carried myself, and I let it stop me from believing I was desirable. When I was in elementary school I wasn’t tall and lean like my friends. Then I would sometimes get teased, as all kids do, and I’d get called fat or hippo. Slowly I started believing that I was fat.
In April I was on the subway heading home from work when I overheard two very young girls, maybe 12 or 13, talking on the subway. They were having a conversation about how they believed they were fat. They were discussing how they needed to lose “like 20 pounds.” These girls were not in any way, shape, or form at unhealthy weights. They looked like two incredibly healthy and beautiful tweens. I wanted to scream. It broke my heart to see these two young girls refer negatively about their body images.
Growing up I was never overweight. I was never very small but I perceived myself as "fat" when in reality I had an average body type. Then when I went to college I ate poorly and stopped exercising. I gained 15-20 pounds and that was the first time I really saw myself at an unhealthy weight. Then my brother passed away and my weight spiraled out of control. Brownies and binge eating seemed to be the only way my friends could help me feel better. It felt like it happened overnight. At my heaviest I was over 200 pounds and I didn’t want to anyone to know that I was spiraling out of control. My Mom sensed that I was drowning in my own skin and offered to pay for a weight loss program. For months I declined because I was mortified that I needed help and was terrified I wouldn’t be able to lose the weight. When I started the program and started losing weight I got excited that I was finally going to be "skinny." 6 months later I was back to my healthy weight. I wasn't the size 2 I assumed I would be at. I was a healthy size 8. Shockingly I wasn't disappointed, I was happy I felt like myself again.
Once I lost the weight, I became hyper aware of everything I put into my mouth. I started feeling guilty every time I ate. I developed bulimia. Then I got into therapy and I started to learn about my issues with my body image. It took months for me to realize the problem wasn’t what I was putting into my body but my relationship to it. Because I spent so many years fixated on being skinny, an ideal that I couldn’t even define, I defined and created an unhealthy relationship with food. I learned why I was binge eating. I got the help I needed to help put an end my self destructive fixation with being skinny.
I wish, I wish, I wish we stopped being consumed by fad diets. I wish we instead just learned to embrace fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and physical activity. I wish we stopped describing and defining ourselves and others as skinny or fat. The digs and put downs need to stop. The “I just want to give her a sandwich” or “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” need to stop. You don’t know what someone is enduring. You don’t know what someone is going through or how someone got to the weight they are at.
People laugh when I say I run to keep my cupcake habit in check but that isn’t a joke. I run to eat. I've worked very hard to develop a healthy relationship with food and running was the final straw that helped me let go of my irrational obsession with being "skinny." When I started running I thought I was going to lose weight and become this lean skinny machine. 2 years later I am about to run my second marathon and I am the exact same weight. A healthy weight I am happy to be at. Do I have thunder thighs? Yes! I have huge giant thighs because my quads are so god damn strong. I have a muffin top and yet I run over 40 miles a week. If I go out to eat, I don’t feel guilty about eating carbs because I am an endurance runner and my body needs fuel.
When I am at work, surrounded by tall lean women, I still feel like the fat girl in the room but then I’m like cut the bullshit you are the strongest and healthiest you’ve ever been in your life. Are you really that upset you aren’t that coveted sample size 2? No, no I’m not. My body just isn’t cut out to be a size 2. I like eating friend chicken after a long run. Could I reach for a salad? Sure, but I eat really healthy and allow myself to splurge here and there. Do I have friend chicken on the daily? No, just after my long runs and it’s totally worth it.
Every single body is different. No one body type is more beautiful than another. I will say I am much happier now than I was when I was over 200 pounds. I have more energy, I am more confident, and I am stronger. The hardest step was admitting that I needed help and that I was unhappy with the way I looked. But once I got on board, I got motivated. I wanted to succeed. If you want to lose weight, do it the healthy way. Don’t do a juice cleanse and don’t diet. Just learn about portion control and eat healthy! Make that your routine, make it a habit. Cut out the processed foods, the refined sugars, and the simple carbohydrates. You don't have to give anything up, you just learn to eat it in moderation. Ask for help, you don’t have to do it alone.
And STOP SHARING THE BULLSHIT IMAGES. If you want to lose weight, do it for your health. Start seeing yourself as beautiful. Start believing in your worth. Stop referring to yourself as skinny or fat.
Until Monday friends, #RunSelfieRepeat.