Talking about weight is never easy. The general stereotype is that if you’re overweight then it’s okay because, if you look around, most people are, but we still have to be mindful that people do not want to be ‘fat’. As a society we have been taught not to heckle overweight people as it’s seen as rude and inconsiderate. But it would seem this ideology only applies to the ‘heavier’ crowd. I find it completely absurd that we cannot make remarks to someone carrying a bit of extra weight; however it’s perfectly fine for people to constantly make comments on someone who has the opposite issue.
Growing up, I was always underweight. I yearned for nothing more than to be of average size. I didn’t skip meals (although I admit I was a fussy eater) and I ate more sugary and fattening food than most kids. Fair enough I would ride my bike around my small village, but I tended to do far less exercise than most kids my age. It was baffling as to how I managed to maintain a fatty diet and little exercise yet still keep my excruciatingly petite frame.
My secret? A ridiculously high metabolism.
It was not so much of a gift as it was a curse. Countless people would constantly make comments on how ‘skinny’ I looked, whilst others would say I looked ‘anorexic’. Even strangers would occasionally stop and stare and mutter under their breath about how much I resembled a ‘bag of bones’. It was an awful feeling.
During my teens, a handful of girls I knew envied my flat stomach and tiny thighs. They would call me skinny as if I were lucky. What they didn’t realise is that beneath my baggy clothes (clothes never fitted me properly, they just kind of clung to my skeleton) I had bones jutting out in odd places and I hadn’t developed a chest or a bum like every other girl. I looked and felt like a 12 year old boy and I would have given anything to have put on weight and to be able to wear a bra that amounted to more than an A-cup and to wear clothes that weren’t from the children’s section.
Eventually, when I was 16, I started to gain weight and to fill out. At first I thought it was incredible; I was finally developing and I had graduated to a size 8 in a matter of months. I felt amazing.
That is, of course, until people started to make remarks on how ‘chubby’ I was getting and how I was developing a ‘little tummy’. Even though I knew I wasn’t overweight, I sure felt it. And that’s when the many dieting attempts started and I hated the way I looked. I noticed stretch marks and rather than taking it as a sign of being a normal girl, I felt obese.
It made me realise how damaging it is to be called thin all the time. I realised that all of those people who had contributed to calling me anorexic had actually impacted my view on my weight forever and had totally destroyed my self-confidence as, when I started to put on weight, I felt fat.
It’s about time people acknowledge that being slim isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and calling someone a name based on their weight can be just as devastating if you’re underweight as it can be if you’re overweight. It’s so double standards how we know not to comment on an overweight person’s body mass yet it’s still seemingly okay to say whatever you want to someone who’s underweight.
People think that calling someone thin is going to make them feel better about themselves and the general attitude is that if you’re petite you don’t have a right to complain. This way of thinking is wrong. Take it from someone who has spent most of their life being underweight: skinny isn’t a nice feeling and feeling fat is equally as unpleasant.
Why can’t people just learn not to comment on people’s weight? Happiness isn’t measured by a bunch of numbers on a weighing scale. Happiness is how you feel. So long as you feel comfortable, it doesn’t matter how big or small you are. No one can tell you your self-worth based on numbers. I’ve learned that no matter how much I weigh, I will never be entirely happy. I never want to be underweight but I never want to feel fat. Being happy lies somewhere in between those two; however I’m not sure I’ll ever land directly in the middle because people will always tell me that I’m too thin or that I’m really starting to get quite chubby.
When we accept that calling someone thin is just as harmful as calling someone fat, then the world will be a happier place for people like me who have been at both ends of the spectrum. In fact, not talking about weight at all would be a grand idea indeed for no matter what size you are, you are beautiful in your right.
Featured image: Anna Efthymiou