sorry shocked embarrassed to say that I struggle to not think of my body in the context of fat OR skinny.
Of course, there is a huge grey scale of bodies, mine included, that fall between “skinny” and “fat” yet I still fight the voice in my head that says “if you’re not skinny than you must be fat”.
It’s really just a language issue.
And a personal issue.
A few times over the last year I’ve gotten the comment that someone liked my body because I’m “not skinny”. It was incredibly genuine and not meant to be anything but a complement and a comment on my strength and fitness. I heard it for what it was and appreciated it, yet this little voice in my head still nagged “they are saying you’re not skinny Faith, if you’re not skinny you must be…the F word”.
I was a fat kid for a few years, my memory is from about 8-11 I was heavier than I really needed to be. My memory is that I was eating to much; I was a grumpy pre-pubescent with thick bones, dense muscle, and a big appetite. I wasn’t very comfortable with my chubbiness, which was pointed out by several of my parents friends, and didn’t understand yet that my body would be many great things but skinny was not in my destiny nor ultimately a healthy goal for me.
A few days ago I had a little interaction with someone, kinda like with the dance costumes, that made me question how I see myself. I was shook to realize that I kinda reverted to 9-year-old chubby little me when a dear friend, intended as a complement, pointed out that I’m not skinny. My first reaction was definitely a bit of “Wtf? You don’t point that out to a woman. Especially a dancer, especially a fit woman who obviously prides herself on staying ‘in shape’ and being healthy”. As I thought about it more I realized how it really bummed me out that still when I am referred to/complemented as not skinny that my mind twists it around to being called fat.
Of course, I know I’m not fat. I’m not skinny either. Don’t plan on ever being either. I’m also not fat or skinny bashing in writing this, I’m merely recognizing what I see as my own, personal, not always so healthy, relationship with both words, particularly skinny.
Just what is the grey scale between fat and skinny? Lean, strong, thick, fit, solid, thin, full, heavy, muscular, soft, round, curvy? All these are good physical descriptions but is it just me or do they not carry the same cultural relevance, weight, and definitiveness as fat and skinny?
Come to think of it, do fat and skinny actually even exist? Think how few people in your life you would describe as “fat” or “skinny” if asked the first physical adjective to come to mind when describing them.
I broke it down for myself the other day, had a little “come to jesus” moment in my head. I said, “Faith, skinny refers to having a lack of body fat and very little muscle strength and density. Fat refers to having an excess of body fat and very little muscle strength and density. Take away the cultural overtones and the emotions. You don’t fit either of those descriptions. Not even close to either. Most people don’t. There is nothing derogatory or negative about being called fat, skinny or anything in-between, unless that is the way it is intended.”
Truthfully I’m a bit embarrassed to admit I’ve given it this much thought but the older I get the more I realize; we’re all in this together and for most people, especially women, this includes being acutely aware of where you fall on the long line between skinny and fat.
Please understand that I am generally quite content, happy, and proud of my shape, weight, and size these days, however the idea that I still cringe at the thought that I’m not skinny makes me…cringe.
So where does all this soul searching and word ruminating get me? Honestly, it’s started to shift the way I think about my body. It’s helping me more fully embrace what I am (thick, muscular, soft and curvy in a few key spots, strong, dense, small, proportional, and fit to name some off the top of my head) and let go of any attachment or emotion to what I’m not; fat or skinny.