Where Logic Meets Love

Stop Telling Me I'm Too Skinny

Thursday, December 8, 2011

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Stop Telling Me I'm Too Skinny | Faith Permeating Life

If you got here by Googling a question, you might like this follow-up post!

Here's a question for you:

If someone you hadn't seen in a while said to you, "You look like you've been eating quite well lately," would you be offended?

How about "You certainly have a lot of meat on those bones"?

How about "Look at how fat you are!"?

If you heard someone say this to someone else, would you tell them their comment was impolite?

Even though these kinds of comments are undoubtedly said, I think it's pretty well understood among most people that telling someone they are overweight is considered rude (unless you're, say, a doctor talking to a patient). It's insulting to tell someone they're fat, right?

What I want to know is, why is it considered a compliment to say the opposite?

"It looks like your wife/husband hasn't been feeding you!" "You need some meat on those bones!" "Look how skinny you are! Come eat some food."

I'm not talking about actual compliments, like if a friend who was on the heavier side loses some weight and you say, "Hey, look at you! You look great!" That's congratulating someone on being at or moving toward a healthy weight, and in certain contexts and relationships, that's appropriate.

I want to know this: Why is it considered an insult to comment on someone's body weight if they supposedly have too much of it, but a compliment to comment on someone's body weight if they supposedly don't have enough?

I've been blessed to have a healthy body weight my whole life. I can't think of a time when I was much under or over an appropriate weight for my height and age. And yet throughout my life, people -- particularly older relatives or family friends who I saw infrequently -- have felt the need to tell me I'm too skinny. And never has it been in a way that implied they were actually concerned about my weight. Like, nobody ever pulled me aside and said, "Jessica, I'm concerned about how thin you look." It was always in this teasing way that I believe was intended to be a compliment.

Growing up, I never heard anybody chastised for saying things like this the way I heard people chastised for commenting on someone being overweight. And so it never occurred to me, until I was an adult, to respond in an offended way, despite how uncomfortable it always made me.

The same thing goes for age. It's pretty well understood, I think, that telling someone they look old is not very polite. Yet Mike and I are both constantly -- constantly -- told how young we look. Again, usually by older adults, and intended as a compliment.

And again, I never say anything. Because no one wants to be the one to turn a friendly conversation suddenly serious or sour. And in cases where I've tried to respond in a way that indicates I don't like being so young-looking, I always get the same response: "Oh, you'll appreciate it when you're older."

Well, 1) maybe I won't look young for my age anymore when I'm older, and 2) this negates the actual issues that this causes for me currently, like the fact that I'm constantly mistaken for a student at the college where I work, or the fact that it makes it more difficult to be taken seriously when trying to go about daily business as an adult (eating at a restaurant, dealing with customer service, etc.).

Despite the complimentary intent of these kinds of remarks, I find them offensive. I don't see what good can come from taking a look at someone and telling them there's something lacking there, regardless of whether it's meant positively.

I guess it's not surprising when the magazines and advertisements we see seem to have two messages: "Here's how to be thinner!" and "Here's how to look younger!" Somehow it's been extrapolated from this that the skinnier and younger-looking the better.

I don't want to be told I'm a toothpick who looks like a teenager. I am a mature 26-year-old with a healthy body, and I'm proud of that.

Anyone else know what I mean? Do you have any suggestions for responding to these comments without completely trampling on the light-hearted spirit in which they're made?

66 comments:

  1. THANK YOU so much for writing this!! I was 30 lbs heavier in high school, so I'm glad I never had to deal with it in my I-already-hate-myself-what-more-do-you-want! phase, but I lost all that weight when I got to college. For the first time in my life I had people saying these terrible things to me like it was a great joke. I HATE IT. I just don't let people do that to me anymore. People say something like that, they are treated to, "please don't make those jokes about my weight."

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  2. I've always been a pretty average weight, so I haven't gotten comments on either side of the scale, really. If someone says you're too skinny, though, I would just respond with, "No, I'm a perfectly healthy weight, actually."

    I guess what bugs me is when people choose being polite over being honest. It is weird that our culture thinks being "too skinny" is a compliment. And it's weird that mentioning that someone is overweight is an insult, even if it's true. It seems like people would be more likely to pull a friend aside an express concern over being actually too thin than they would to a friend who was actually overweight. We just kind of ignore it in our friends.

    On another tangent, as a pregnant woman, I get super annoyed when pregnant women get offended when people call them big. I mean, it's just a fact when you're pregnant. It's like mentioning your hair is brown.

    This was a good post. Our culture is so weird about appearances and what's okay to talk about and how.

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  3. Hey! I found your blog from a guest post somewhere, and I started following it. I hope that's not weird. Anyway, I wanted to share my thoughts on this (since you've made it very obvious you welcome random comments).

    Personally, I love it when people tell me I look skinny, even too skinny. I once had a normal-sized cousin talk to me about how she had gained weight and it felt weird, and all her friends were too skinny but she felt like she could talk to me about it because I was normal and not too skinny. I knew I shouldn't be offended by this, and I wasn't mad at her for saying it, but the comment made me sad. I've often thought about it since then. Why should I be sad not to be "too" something? Normally that's a bad thing, not a good one.

    I would grant, though, that the reason "too skinny" is more of a compliment than "normal" is cultural, and springs from a lifetime of hearing thinner is better. We are raised to believe that men want skinny women and women want to be skinny women. Whether or not this is true, when someone tells you you're really skinny, they're saying men want you and women want to be you, so, good job on that.

    Another facet of this is that we like our friends to think (sometimes via us telling them) they are better than average. That's what constitutes a compliment, right? You don't want to go around to your friends being like, "you are perfectly average in every way." So what? We like to be better than average (as a data person you surely know that statistic about how some 75% of drivers think they are above average, which is impossible) and so once we have decided what's better, we naturally want to encourage our friends when we see them embodying traits of being better than average. Obviously, though, the definition of "better" varies widely. Maybe it just seems safest to go with the cultural understanding, because for example you and I would respond differently to the same comments, and it might be difficult to discern in advance how to compliment someone without just saying, "your body is pleasing to look at for some reason" which would just be super creepy.

    As far as whether you appreciate their efforts or not, I can only say that part of my Christian belief includes a desire (if not always the ability) to see the innocence in other people. Maybe this will be something you have to take to God and be like, "look, can you redeem this situation and help me take each of these comments as a very well-intended compliment, and be grateful that people like me so much and see in me things they wish they had."

    You're lucky to be happy with your healthy body. That's a rare gift, probably because everyone is subtly pressured all the time to be under a certain weight. Good for you for resisting this.

    As far as responding honestly to a light-hearted comment without ruining the conversation, my goodness, if you ever get an answer to this I'd love to hear it.

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  4. Wow! Once again, an experience you and I have in common! I've never been overweight and was technically underweight at some points--after my 6-inch growth spurt, after having mono (my throat was too swollen to swallow solids for almost 3 weeks), and when I had a series of illnesses while breastfeeding.

    I've never felt comfortable with the kind of comments you mention, but I try not to let them get to me. There have been times, though, when I've responded to a snarky-sounding, "Look how skinny!" by saying, "Yes, I've been very sick. Thanks for noticing."

    I heard some really inappropriate comments, like, "You're so skinny you make me sick!" or a stranger GRABBING MY WAIST and announcing to her friends, "She doesn't eat." (The weirdest part of that one was that I was actually chewing at that moment!) I quit swimming laps at the YWCA in my 20s because women in the locker room stared and snarled at me. As if I have chosen my shape just to spite them!!!

    Something I do appreciate that's started to happen in my 30s is that people who've known me for a while, especially those who saw me gain the perfect 25 pounds while pregnant and lose it all by 6 months postpartum, sometimes ask me about my diet and exercise habits and actually listen. Partly I have a naturally thin body type inherited from my dad, but I also have some conscious habits that keep me BOTH thin and healthy, and I'll happily explain them to people who actually want to know--which is different from people who rhetorically chirp, "How DO you stay so thin?"

    I totally agree that if it's offensive to remark on a person's fatness, it is offensive to remark on thinness, unless you are doing it in a clearly complimentary way or expressing concern for the person's health.

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  5. @Macha
    Glad to know I'm not the only one bothered by these kinds of comments! I'm not quite as bold as you are in responding to them, but knowing that I'm not alone in how much it bothers me makes me feel more confident that I should say something next time.

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  6. @Ashley
    I think you're right that people are more likely to express concern about someone being underweight than overweight. I'm guessing that's because being underweight can be a symptom of some other issue, like being sick or highly stressed, about which a friend would normally show concern. Whereas being overweight is more likely to be due to a person's general choices about their lifestyle, rather than some new, immediate problem. That's my guess.

    I can kind of understand why a pregnant woman would get offended by being called big, only in the same sense of "Why do you feel the need to comment on the size of my body?" On the other hand, I do think the idea is weird that being smaller when pregnant is somehow better. One of my coworkers who recently had a baby said to me about another coworker who's pregnant: "She's so much smaller than I was at 6 months!" I didn't know how to respond to that--since when did it become "the women with the smallest baby wins"? Or maybe it's a compliment on how they're carrying the baby, as if women really have control over that. It's definitely weird to me.

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  7. I've always felt the same way. Why is it okay to tell someone they're too thin, but not to tell someone they're overweight?

    I think your response depends on who's dishing the "compliment". If it's someone close to you, then it might be worthwhile having a deeper conversation.

    If its' a nosy gal at the grocery store, keep it to yourself.

    I'm often the youngest person in certain social circles, and I used to be very bothered when people made comments about my age and how young I am. (I'm 27!) It doesn't bother me anymore b/c I realized more often than not, the people making those comments were insecure, unhappy older women.

    I won't always be 27, but I will always be healthy and happy!

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  8. @Karin H
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! You're right, comments are always welcome!

    I couldn't tell from your comment if you have been told you're too skinny, or just the one comment your cousin made made you wish she had said you were too skinny. Because I can understand being uncomfortable with her comment, which was basically, "You're larger than all my friends," even though she meant it in a positive way. Maybe if you constantly had older women yelling at you to eat more, you'd feel differently :)

    You're definitely right that everyone seems to want to be better than average, and since our culture has decided that skinny=good, telling someone they're skinny is a way of comparing them favorably with other "average" people. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure that, at least in America, the "average" weight is tending toward overweight, so having a healthy body weight is actually better than average in that case! So it really comes back to cultural norms and beliefs.

    I honestly have no idea how I escaped the pressure to constantly diet except that I read voraciously from a young age, so by the time anyone my age even started talking about body image I was prepared for it and knew about eating disorders and "lookism" (to use the term from Reviving Ophelia). The other thing that helped was that I was kind of insulated within the gifted program in middle school and made all my friends there, so even though there was still some talk of food and body weight, we'd all pretty much resigned ourselves to being unpopular, so there wasn't that much pressure to conform to any standard.

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts! They've given me a lot to think about.

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  9. @'Becca
    It never ceases to amaze me how positively rude people can be! Since I read a lot of adoption blogs and also larger family blogs, I could probably recite by now all the rude comments I can expect to get from strangers 10 years from now ("Are they all yours?" "This is your last one, right?" etc.). Why is it ever considered appropriate by some people to go up to someone you don't even know and comment on their body or their children?

    As if I have chosen my shape just to spite them!!!
    Exactly. I think it's just people who are insecure with their own body who feel the need to disparage other people's bodies.

    I would also be happy to share with anyone the healthy habits I have that help keep me at an appropriate weight, but I don't think anyone's ever asked me. Generally if someone's drawing attention to my body it's to make one of these offensive comments. It's a shame, really, because if they're jealous of my body for some reason, it would be better for them to ask for advice from me than to find a way to embarrass me about my body size.

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  10. @Vanessa Vancour

    I realized more often than not, the people making those comments were insecure, unhappy older women.
    That's an excellent point. Even if I draw attention to the rudeness of their comments, the problem is still with them and their insecurity.

    I won't always be 27, but I will always be healthy and happy!
    Amen! Thanks for the great reminder that the most important thing is my own health and confidence, regardless of what people may say about me :)

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  11. I agree with you Jessica. I think sometimes it's more of a backhanded complement anyway...it's not like they said "You look great!" you know? It's a way to get a dig in sometimes by implying that you are "too" thin. And, in regards to the pregnant size comment, I think I respectfully disagree a little bit. I mean obviously you are going to be big as a pregnant woman. I am okay with that. But as someone who kept getting "You're ONLY 21 weeks? Are you having twins? You are so big" kinda comments...I can definitely say that those comments can be hurtful. At the very least they can cause a first time mom to worry that something isn't quite right. "Why am I so big? Am I bigger than I should be? Bla bla, spaz spaz." Btw, I am measuring completely normal according to my doctor. I am just carrying her (singular!) all in front. ;)

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  12. @Caiti
    Exactly--what is the point of making comments like that?? ("Are you having twins?" etc.) I just can't understand why someone would feel the need to say things like that. Unless you're truly meaning to bestow a compliment or express concern for someone, I think it's rude to comment on someone else's body, whether pregnant or not pregnant, skinny, fat, or average. People are so weird/thoughtless sometimes.

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  13. I've been underweight since I was born. Add to that struggling with a serious eating disorder through my teen years, and again when I was 29, I'm a small person... And I HATE the supposed compliments...

    I usually don't say anything to people that I don't care to have a close relationship with. (ie my cousin, who insists on poking at my side, or pinching my hips whenever I see her.) But to people who I want at least a semblance of a relationship with, I tell them.

    "I know you don't mean that to hurt, but it hurts me when you say those things. I'd appreciate it if you didn't make comments about my body. I want to be seen for more than just my body. I don't see a thin body as a good thing OR a bad thing, it's just a part of me."

    I've never had anyone get upset by that, and most of the time it's started some really good conversations.

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  14. @jen
    That's really good to know that no one has gotten upset by being told to stop making those comments. I agree that the type of relationship you have with the person determines whether it's worth saying anything. In my case, I think the comments are almost always made by people I'm not very close to, so this is a good reminder for me that what those people think doesn't matter that much.

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  15. Confession time: That doesn't stop me from occasionally picturing myself grabbing my cousin's stomach really hard and pointing out that she has some meat on her... I would never do it, but picturing it helps me to smile and walk away.

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  16. @jen
    Haha, I can't say I'd blame you if you did that, but good for you for being the better person in this situation! (I almost said "being the bigger person" but that would have sounded strange in this context, haha) :)

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  17. Jessica,

    Hate to say it, but you WILL appreciate it when you're older!

    I too was always the thinnest person in the room, and have always looked at least 4 years younger than I am. I hated being pegged as younger for so long... but now at age 40... I'm offended if I'm not carded at a bar - or if someone doesn't express shock at the revelation of my age!!

    As for being thin... I didn't even break 100 pounds until I reached high school - where all the 'normal' girls did in 7th or 8th grade. In middle school, every day of my life someone squealed.... "You are SO skinny!" or "You are SO LUCKY you are SO skinny!" It was tiresome.
    In health class, we were studying eating disorders and when the teacher mentioned Anorexia and Bulimia the entire class turned in their desks to look at ME!
    I glared at all of them and said, "I KNOW I'm skinny. Read your text book... anorexia distorts body image. They are thin girls who think they are FAT! Good luck on the test!"

    Worse yet, in college people thought they were complimenting me by saying, "You're so lucky. You're anorexic." Including my best friend! Finally I told her how insulting that was. "Anorexia is a disorder. Would you feel complimented if I said, 'Gee, you look like an alcoholic!'?"

    Sure, it's born of jealousy... but I was never shy about pointing out that it's almost impossible to buy clothes. Everyone thinks if you're thin (I hate the word skinny. Malnourished people are skinny.) that all the clothes in the world are made for you... but the reality is most department stores don't carry anything under a size 6 --- and I have had to shop in the juniors department my whole life to find clothes that fit! yes. I'm 41 years old and I still wear clothes designed for teenagers. Try finding a professional wardrobe!!!

    Now when people go on and on about how skinny I am, I just say "Well, you're lucky you have boobs." Typically, it's one or the other... you can't be skinny AND have boobs!!

    And also... now that I've hit 40 it's harder to keep my shape. It's no longer the body I've always had. But if I'm honest - most women would still gladly trade places with me. It's just impossible for me to find jeans because my butt got just a bit bigger that I can't wear a 3 but a 5 is too big... and the even number sizing is too boxy on me... so I'm wearing skirts all winter or until I get back to my fighting weight!

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  18. @Tammy
    I am so with you on the difficulties of buying clothes!! The other night I was at New York & Company because they were having a big sale, plus I had a $50 off $100 coupon, plus I had a $50 gift card... which would have been fabulous if they'd had anything in my size. But all the Petite (short) pants, which is what I need if I don't want them to have to be hemmed, were sizes 10-14. I ended up getting a T-shirt and some scarves and tights. I thought about saying something about the lack of small sizes to the cashier when she asked if I'd found everything OK, but I didn't want to risk getting the "Oh my God you're so skinny I hate you" comments. (I'm guessing the pants just got bought up by other petite girls, in any case, since there were smaller sizes in the other lengths.)

    Ditto about the boobs, too... I'm sure there are exceptions, but it seems like you need curves elsewhere to have boobs! Ah well.

    I'm grateful no one ever called me anorexic, or if they did, I blocked it out. As if it wasn't enough of a problem to keep people from developing eating disorders, somehow it became a compliment to call normally thin people anorexic! Sheesh.

    Thanks for your comment! I'll let you know in about 15 years if I still look young for my age ;)

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  19. Ha, I totally get you on the looking young thing. I was once mistaken for Damian's daughter, can you say AWKWARD?!

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  20. @Hannah
    Super awkward! Wow! I guess that's one thing I don't have to worry about since Mike also looks young... people just think we're a high school couple :)

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  21. My goodness, I totally identify with this post! I'm always told I'm too skinny in that weird half-complementary way, and it makes me crazy! And it's awkward when my husband and I go out sometimes, because people will ask for my ID and not his. Big faux pas if you ask me. :)

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  22. @lifewithabean.com
    I'm amazed at how many women have had this same experience! And that's totally weird to card you and not your husband. Like I've said, Mike also looks very young, but my brother, who is two years younger than me, is 6'5" and built like an athlete, and everyone assumes he's older than me. I don't drink, but I'm pretty sure there have been instances when we've gone out to eat of Mike getting carded and not my brother. Annoying!

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  23. I can SOOO relate with this post!
    I am always cold. I hear from my colleagues, "Well... if you would just put some meat on those bones..."
    It makes me want to say, "I don't want to be fat to be warm!!"

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  24. @Dawn
    I am always cold, too, and I don't think getting fat is a good solution either! How silly.

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  25. @Jessica"I could probably recite by now all the rude comments I can expect to get from strangers 10 years from now ("Are they all yours?" "This is your last one, right?" etc.). Why is it ever considered appropriate by some people to go up to someone you don't even know and comment on their body or their children?"
    as a young mum with 3 young children i get this all the time...or "don't you have TV"!! even when from people i know i find them really rude and hurtful..and it always makes me feel guilty at the thoughts those words bring up...i didn't plan to fall pregnant the last 2 times..in fact we were trying to prevent it.. (now with our first..yes ok we didn't have TV!! :) )but since then we rarely have sex and the last two times i fell pregnant..no lie..we did it once that month with condoms!!( 99.9% safe-i got 2 doses of 0.01%!!!!!!) but while pregnant with my last i could not eat...i lost so much weight that my post-birth weight (done a few hours after leaving labour ward) was LOWER than my pre-pregnancy weight...i did start regaining weight but due to stress and tragedy i have lost even more weight...and now recieve the too skinny comments..i'm not ok...i can't eat..i can't force myself to eat..my throat closes and i feel like i am choking!! i get concerned comments like 'you do eat right' yes...i do..when i can!! but no-one says anything further!! but the funniest thing is most of my inner circle know what has happened in my life...and they should know that i'm not ok...i need help but when i say i'm too skinny and i hate the way i look i get told to stop complaining by my larger but healthier friends..or eat a quater pounder...not helpful.. i would if i could...and no..i am not anorexic..i do genuinely enjoy food..but i can't stomach the discomfort that comes from eating or the nausea or even involuntary vomiting it causes!! i don't even know where to ask for help!!

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  26. @Anonymous
    I'm so sorry to hear about the struggles you're facing with eating! People can truly be ignorant sometimes with the comments they make. I've found that the more I learn about other people's experiences (particularly through the blogs I read), the more I realize how many of the questions or joking comments people often make can be hurtful depending on who they're talking to. And if you don't know a person's situation--or even if you do--don't try to flippantly suggest solutions. What good does that do? That's what I don't understand. Sigh.

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  27. This has been my life story haha! It happened most frequently at restaurants I served at who would say things like, "How old are you? Are you even old enough to be serving me this alcohol?" Um, I'm 24 thanks. Or "What do you think about this burger...oh heavens you don't eat here do you!?" Just because I'm a small person doesn't mean I don't eat restaurant food...and just because I look young doesn't mean I want people pointing out that I look like I'm in high school.

    I have a friend who has it much worse than me. She is 5' nothing and is under 90 pounds. She had two gentleman in her work building laugh at her and ask if she was old enough to be working there. How rude is that? How is that considered acceptable behavior??

    Thanks for this post! It needed to be said! :-)

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    1. People can seriously be thoughtless sometimes. Your stories remind me of something that happened when I was in 3rd grade. My brother and I carpooled with another family who had girls our same ages, and the one who was also in 3rd grade happened to be extremely short. She and I got out of the car and were walking toward the school when this teacher said to her, "Hi, are you in kindergarten or 1st grade?" She said, "I'm in 3rd grade." The teacher laughed at her and refused to believe her, even though the two of us both very seriously insisted that she was. I have no idea what purpose the teacher thought that kind of comment/conversation served. All she did was humiliate my friend for no reason! Sigh...

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  28. Amen Sister!! I know EXACTLY what you are talking about - the last paragraph was spot on!! 36 years old 5'3" 110#....

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  29. I'm 5'6" and 124 lbs and it is seriously annoying how often people tell me how skinny I look and that I need to put on weight. I am toned, exercise and have a healthy BMI. The thing about me is I have a very long torso so I look about 5-10 lbs skinnier than I actually am. I am a nurse at a hospital and have to lift and move around patients (often overweight or obese) every day I work and I DO have muscle and can move them but they laugh at me and say things like "look at you, how can you possibly move me? imagine that!" and it will even be a patient around my weight that laughs at me and says that.

    My coworkers make fun of me for being thin (they are all overweight or very obese themselves). One male coworker who is actually very fit and exercises daily keeps asking me every time I've come in what I've had to eat that day. Then he actually offers to bring me in leftover food that his wife makes at home! It ticks me off so bad, like I can't provide my own food for myself? Stop trying to push me into your ideal weight for a woman because you are some chubby chaser, old man.

    And then random people in public tell me I am too skinny. One person at a gas station who last saw me 3 months ago kept going on and on about how thin I was getting and he liked me so much better when I had meat on me (I was only 5 lbs heavier then).

    Sorry, this rant is coming across harsh but it feels so good to vent to people who might understand. I am sick of the rude comments and wish people would leave their thoughts about my body to themselves. They don't do it in a complimentary way, they do it in a way to make fun of me or with my coworkers, it feels like daily harassment. I am HAPPY with my body and I am healthier now than I've been in years. People are just jerks, it upsets me every time someone says something about it. :/

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    1. Yikes, sounds like you really know what I'm talking about! I wish there wasn't such a cultural norm around telling people they look too skinny. Maybe if more of us who have experienced this push back -- tell people their comments are offensive -- we can start to change things. It's so frustrating!

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  30. And I also think a lot of the problem with hateful comments towards thin (but healthy weight) people comes from how 60% of America is overweight and 30% of all Americans classify as obese. We're used to seeing big people and it appears abnormal now to many people to see someone who is actually in shape and not out of control with their weight.

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    1. That's certainly possible. When I was writing this I had to be sure to say "healthy weight" and not "average weight" because, well, the average weight isn't exactly healthy anymore!

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  31. I know exactly what u mean. I am so sick of hearing 'real women are curvy'! Since most of the population is now overweight, is'nt this just a phrase invented to make that majority feel better about being overweight?

    I get told frequently that I am 'skinny' although by BMI is 22 and I know that I have a body that was intended for humankind. People have assumed that I must rigorously work out or eat healthily but I dont and my new dentist asked me if I was bulimic as I have bad teeth. Would he have asked me this if I looked overweight?

    On a night out a few years back, as I walked out of a club, a bouncer openly said 'try eating love'. I was so hurt, (since I always ate like pig)that I went home immediately and cried all night.

    I am 29 and up until recently I have striven all my teenage and adult life to be bigger so that people would find me more attractive and sexy by over-eating to the point where my lifestyle has become unhealthy and I fear I will one day suffer poor health due to high fat foods.

    I have come to realise that I am sexy and attractive as I am- I am me!!!! No matter what size you are, beauty really is only skin deep and people warm to people with good nature and kind hearts not curvy hips or long slender legs!!!!!!

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    1. Wow, it sounds like those comments were really damaging for you! I don't think people realize the impact their words can have. I'm so glad to hear that you've reached a point where you can love your body as it is!

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  32. Jessica,

    Thank you for pointing that out. I am thin and have always been thin. I work out regularly and maintain a healthy diet. That's it! I don't diet or anything, so I am definitely getting my fair share of food each day. I am sick and tired of my "bigger" friends (even though they aren't that much bigger" telling me I'm so lucky and that I'm so skinny. I want to look healthy! I am not lucky because I work for my body! I work out, I eat healthy. I feel that I am not taken seriously in my friend's conversations. They are obsessed with losing weight (yes, they need to lose a few pounds) and they are always looking into magazines and books and different forms of education to find out how to lose weight. Hello!?! If they would stop outing me because I'm thinner than them like I don't know what they are going through, I could teach them a thing or two. I hate being called skinny, lucky, or being judged by my friends for supposedly not knowing how it is struggling with weight issues. Put down the twinkie and take a tip from me! Sorry to sound very insensitive, but I am just sick and tired of the mistreatment I get from my friends.

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    1. You bring up a very interesting and true point, that people seem to often attribute other people's health to "luck." I think it is similar to how people believe other people's decisions are a result of immutable personality traits whereas their own decisions are due to current circumstances. "You are thin/healthy because you were lucky to be born that way; I am fat/unhealthy because such-and-such circumstances have prevented me from exercising/eating right/etc." This might explain why no one asks you or me for tips on staying thin and healthy.

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  33. ik what you mean... i may only be 14 but i am always being confronted and asked if i was starving myself..... i always said no. i always did. i wanted to say something but havent. not yet. it upsets me when my bffs say you need to put some meat on those bones. or tell other people im only skin and bones and cant lift anything... i wish i could say something to everyone... but to scared to live life w/out my friends. so i hide my feelings.

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    1. It's okay to get help. The friends and family who love you WANT you to come to them... They want you to live and be happy, not just pretend to be happy. Is there anyone you can talk to?

      I had an eating disorder that started at age 14. While I am happy with my life now, I feel very lucky that I am still alive to enjoy life. There were several close calls because I wasn't eating enough to sustain my body.

      I'm thinking of you.

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    2. Hi friend,

      I'm not quite sure what you meant by your comment. When you say, "I always did" are you talking about always saying no or always starving yourself? If you are struggling with eating, Jen is right that getting help is the way to go. However, based on the search that led you here I read your comment a little differently, that you're afraid to speak up and tell your friends to stop calling you skinny. I totally get that, and I said in this post, I still struggle with finding the right words to respond to people who poke fun at my supposed skinniness. But I will say, you may surprised at your friends' reactions if you do speak up. Sometimes people just honestly don't know that their words are hurtful, and while they may be initially defensive, it doesn't mean it will cost you a friendship. And if speaking your mind and asking to be treated with respect DOES lose you a friend, well... I don't think I would want to be friends with someone who wanted me to hide my feelings all the time and be dishonest. Best of luck to you.

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    3. Oh. If that's what you meant, then I agree with Jessica. Especially this quote:
      "Sometimes people just honestly don't know that their words are hurtful, and while they may be initially defensive, it doesn't mean it will cost you a friendship. And if speaking your mind and asking to be treated with respect DOES lose you a friend, well... I don't think I would want to be friends with someone who wanted me to hide my feelings all the time and be dishonest."

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  34. I am 13 years old ever since I begun 6 grade I've been bullied called names and even called anorexic everyone makes jokes about my weight even my family friends and teachers. I was texting this guy I liked and he told me he wasn't going to talk to me again because he was embarrassed by my weight and all his friends laughed at me I feel that no ones likes me that I don't belong in this world. I litterly cry every single day because of my weight I'm 4'11 and weight 80 I don't wanna grow anymore because then I will just look like a light pole

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    1. ::hugs:: I am so sorry to hear that people in your life are so incredibly rude to you. Middle school sucks for pretty much everyone, but it's even harder when people have found something to latch onto to tease you about. I want to tell you that things will get better over time, but I know how NOT helpful that is when you're struggling with the hurt right now.

      I'm not going to pretend I have an easy fix for this, but I can tell you what I think might help you get through it at least a little easier. I was inspired a lot from this video by John Green in which he talks about the importance of being in awe of your body's abilities. You may not be able to control what other people think of your body (though I strongly encourage you to talk one-on-one with anyone you feel comfortable talking with -- parents, friends -- and tell them how their words affect you), but you can take control of how YOU feel about your body. What do you like about your body? What can your body do that you're proud of? Are you putting foods into your body that give you energy, and avoiding substances that damage your body? Is your body strong, or have you thought about training it to be stronger? Take care of your body and find ways to take pride in your body. When you feel good about your body, it makes it more difficult for other people's words to hurt you as much.

      Is this something you've talked with your family doctor about? If you don't have a doctor you can trust, see if there's a way for you to try a new doctor. Believe me, life is too short to go to a doctor you don't like--I learned that the hard way. Your doctor can talk with you about whether or not your weight is actually an issue medically speaking, and should be able to give you suggestions for safe ways to gain weight and/or build muscle.

      If you want to talk more about this, you're welcome to send me an e-mail at jessica -at- faithpermeatinglife dot com. I sincerely pray that things get better and that you are able to find a way to feel more confident. God bless!

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    2. If a guy is saying that he is insecure. I used to be as skinny as you, weight a couple years and eat healthy nutritious food you'll fill out. When females make comments like that there jeleous. When guys say that, at your age there just insecure and their horemones want a thicker girl. But those girls that are thick at your age will be fat by there early twenties. In your early twenties your body will be on point. Don't worry :)

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  35. Great blog. I'm a 26 year old, african american female, 5'5, 115 lbs. It was especially difficult for me growing up, because in the african american community, it's frowned upon to be thin; black women are expected to be curvy, especially in the hips and booty. I've been told that I have a "white girl's body" and that black men wont find me attractive....which is 100% untrue, as I have no problem getting male attention from ALL races. Also like some of you ladies, I've had complete strangers come up to me and say, "O hun, u need a ham sandwich!" Or people straight up ask me, "What size do you wear??" "How much do you weigh?" "Do you eat?" Then of course my family always has their fair share of "you're too skinny" comments.....I struggled a lot with body image 2ndry to people's comments all of my adolescent life and my early young adult years, but I'm at a place now where I accept my body for how it was made...I'm a skinny girl, and proud of it. Are there days where I look in the mirror and wish I had bigger this, thicker that, wider that? Yes. But it is what it is. 99.9% of the time when women make comments about my body it's because they're jealous and insecure. Interestingly, even my friends who I think have gorgeous bodies, complete with boobs, hips and booty, make jealous comments about my body! I guess it's just in our nature as females to constantly compare each other...

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    1. That just goes to show that beauty means different things to different people, so all you can do is be comfortable in your own skin, because you can't please everyone! That's great that you have reached a place of acceptance of your body. I wish more people had.

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  36. I truly believe in prayer & leaving everything in Gods hands. I can honestly say, thats what gets me through all the bad comments & bad looks. My in-laws are always saying comments to put me down. I recently gained 10lbs. That still wasn't enough. I am 5'1'' & weight 112lbs. All that matters to me is that I am happy with who I am & my husband loves me just the way I am.

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    1. Sorry to hear you've had to deal with these kinds of comments, but glad you have such a positive attitude about it!

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  37. OMG! Yes! Thank you for writing this article! I can relate to every word you said! Finally an article that says what I've been wanting to say for a long while!!
    I am constantly being told I am too skinny and I look young for my age! I am 27 and STILL get told that I look 20/21. I usually just shrug it off and agree with the part about how it'll be too my advantage when I'm older because I too (exactly like you said) don't want to make a friendly conversation go sour.
    People always tell me I am too skinny! It really gets old and annoying! For one thing...i DO eat and I am typically a big snacker. However I do not want to snack even more than I already do! I'm getting older and I have definitely noticed a slight decrease in my metabolism. Just because it doesn't look like it through my clothes, I have seen an increase in weight in my mid-section area as I've gotten older. I can't, of course mention this discovery to people who aren't my size because then they think that I see myself as fat which is SO not the case! I'm very proud of my body/weight. All I'm saying is that I like to take care of myself and make sure that my eating habits and exercising get better in order to be in the shape that *I* want to be in.

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    1. I completely understand what you're saying about how you can't point out weight gain to people who think you're too skinny. It's as if the only options are to have a perfect body or to hate your body... but it's totally possible to love your body while recognizing that it's imperfect and not in the shape you want it to be.

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  38. I constantly got remarks about my weight from coworkers (more so when I first began working there) typically I hear things like wow she's skinny or I want to. feed you. Nothing meant to be mean, just remarks. I am a 18 yr old female 5'7 weighing in at 122. So I am healthy. Slim and tall but none the less healthy. A few months back a coworker said something and I made a comment similar to " if it is not ok to make commentary about someone being over weight in a work enviroment then why is it acceptable to make comments about someone being thin" my boss agreed, and that was the last I heard about my weight for quiet a while.

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    1. Good for you for speaking up for yourself! I feel like I would have a hard time doing that because I would be too worried about damaging the relationship, But I'm grateful for you speaking up and educating at least one person that comments about another person's weight, except when shared appropriately and out of true concern, are rude whether you're talking about them being overweight or underweight.

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  39. I am in a similar boat. I'm 24 years old but look much younger to some people (although others upon finding out my real age think I'm older because I suppose I act mature for my age) and I also am thin, but not underweight according to any scales and guidelines. I think it's important though to not get too offended because some people are just... insecure or ignorant to the fact that it's insulting (not that this necessarily makes it okay). The people that point out how skinny I am tend to almost always have their only issues with their body images (i.e. dissatisfaction with their own weight). And sometimes commenting on how much younger I look is a compliment in some cultures -- I remember getting blood work one day and the tech at the lab was so insistent on going on and on about how young I looked but I could see in her eyes she was trying to be nice (despite how terribly hurtful it was to have someone ranting at a 23-year-old who just got married, bought a house, started a new career, and beginning her graduate studies who definitely didn't feel like a teenager anymore and wanted to be taken seriously). Sometimes I do get really angry about these things, but then I remember that it's not good to be angry. Anger leads to reactions - reactions that may not exactly be Christ-like. It's a really difficult issue; a double-edged sword perhaps. On one hand, you don't want to make a huge deal out of something that may not be meant as hurtful by overreacting or lashing out. On the other hand, you don't want to stand by and allow people to bully you or walk over you or do nothing when hateful things are being said. Because sometimes people say these things because they do want to take a knife to your self esteem or belittle you. I think God would tell us to pray for them and forgive them, and keep in mind we must always be an example of Christ - especially when it comes to how we treat others (love thy neighbor).

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    1. And literally an hour after I wrote this, I went to yoga class and had someone remark that I looked 13 years old because of my new hair cut... and when I replied "That's not good"; she insisted it was a compliment.

      Oy.

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  41. I hate when people tell me I'm too skinny. Even my mom keeps telling me if I gain just 7 more pounds, I'd look better. Yesterday my co-worker told me You're too skinny. Then I asked, Did you just say I'm too skinny? Then she recanted and said Well, you're not too skinny, you're just really skinny. Gee thanks a lot for telling me that there's something wrong with the way I look. Being told you're skinny is the same as telling someone they're fat. It's just as awful.

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    1. they are just insecure with their own body, and wish they could loose a few pounds... when people are unhappy with their own body, they want others to suffer too. Its rare you see a confident woman with a perfect figure put others down.

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  42. I wanted to comment from a male point of view. I'm 23 and in a perfectly healthy way but all the time people comment on my weight, call my skinny jokingly without realising how offended I get by this and I constantly feel like sarcastically saying "Oh, really? I'm Skinny? Thanks for pointing that out". Especially being male, this is a hard thing for me. I eat double the amount any of my friends eat, I have huge lunches, but don't seem to gain any weight what so ever. Because being male and it's all about muscles and things, it's so frustrating.

    The thing is, I don't care if i'm skinny. I'm happy to an extent. It's when people start mentioning it that I want to eat even more and goto the gym to get myself "normal" looking.

    I have a big music career as a songwriter in the works with major companies and I'd much rather concentrate all of my efforts on that than care about my weight. I'm not anorexic but I guess you could say i'm conscious about my weight, I try not to wear t-shirts and I make sure I wear layered clothing.

    Why must people feel the need to comment on my weight, like I don't know already. So frustrating, i'd never do that.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your perspective, and sorry to hear these frustrations are familiar to you. I don't know why people make these comments either!

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  43. Hello everyone. I'm 18 years old and a nigerian. In my country, people don't fancy skinny women because they see them as not fleshy enough for them to hold. I'm thin, i've always known that. Later people started saying i'm skinny and most places I go, people seem to pay less attention to me because of my body appearance. I find this very unpleasant because I can't socialise or wear certain dresses. Even people that say they accept me for who I am turn around to make comments on how bony I am, and speak of how the wind can blow me away. I cry most times. Then I began to google how to gain weight. I do have eating disorder but that's because I sometimes feel depressed. I really do not like the fact that someone says I won't get a man to like me because I am skinny. I tell them that I am not the first person to look this way and I won't be the last. But they keep bringing up those comments and telling me I will never put on weight or get bigger at all. It really hurts because I find it difficult to go out or wear clothes

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    1. You shouldn't wan't men who view u as a piece of meat or just look at you for sexual purposes anyway. If you turn on the tv and open magazines, look at Victoria secret models and Miss Univerises, they are thin. Often women make rude comments out of their own insecurity. I am skinny yet most of the guys that go after me are African and Mexican, maybe its because I'm confident. Until you don't see your own beauty how can other people?

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  44. Thanks for this. I am 5'6" and 122 lbs and constantly have to hear 'eat a burger'. I have a very small chest, I honestly think if I had big boobs nobody would comment on being too skinny. It is genetic though, if I gain weight it ALL goes to my mid-section and I look ridiculous. I can grab fistfuls of fat on my stomach, but you can still see my ribs.

    I went to the gym for 1-1.5 hours of weight lifting 3 days a week for like a year and ate tons of food and protein shakes after every workout and gained about 6 lbs. It cost too much to do that, and is just too much of an effort for my lifestyle. I've kept some of that weight but have turned to fat now, since I wanted to focus on hiking for a trip.

    I really just want to be healthy and for people to not comment negatively on my body.

    I try to eat healthy, but have eaten a pizza in a sitting sometimes. I think I have a normal diet, maybe a bit too much eating out sometimes :) I really don't know how people can eat the portions in restaurants though. I want to scream 'no wonder you are fat!' at people finishing their massive heaping plates in restaurants, and like pints and pints of beer, when they make comments about me bringing like 1/3 of my food home. It honestly won't fit in my stomach... if you look at the plate/glass and look at me, where is it going to go?!

    I guess I just wish people could empathize more with others. I get that it's hard to quit sugar addictions and emotional eating, and I am able to keep my mouth shut when I see a body that I don't like, so why can't they?

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  45. Yes! Wow reading this made me feel so much better, like I wasn't the only one anymore. I'm 15 years old and I only weigh 83 pounds. I'm extremely skinny and NONE of my friends are the same way and I always feel so silly whenever they complain about their 'love-handles' and 'chunky thighs' and I'm sitting over here completely healthy and embarrassed about it. People never think I'm how old I am and consider me short but I am 5'2 and that's not necessarily short. I'm not tall or anything but everyone immediately assume I'm 11 or 12! I feel embarrassed in my own skin by the comments I get on my size and that's not right. I mean, if I had a nickle for everytime someone who struggles with weight or has at one point struggled with weight given me a dirty look, I'd have enough money to go to paris! I don't want to work to be friends with someone cuz they look at me in a negative way. I just want people to see me for me.

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  46. Please check out truly amazing facts about your body at- https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bendeb.amazingbody&hl=en

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  47. I am in high school and all my life ive been the skinniest person in my year, in my 1st year i had a growth spurt and now i look even skinnier. I hate my body because im taller and thinner than pretty much everyone i know. Plus i have bad hearing and find it hard to hear what people are saying. I also feel that people dont want to be my friends because they feel i have a eating disorder and am unstable and insecure. At the first year of highschool people started the year by calling me skinny and ended it by calling me runt and anorexic. This then made me want to be thinner for some reason and by 3/4 of the year i was depressed self harming and a little anorexic. I have also felt that the bigger people are more popular and have much more friends than me. I now have ankle problems, knee problems and a very slow digestive system. Despite this i am one of the most happy and upbeat person in my year and brush away the comments in public. I guess i want to tell people that i would much rarther be fit and over weight than thin and mentally and physically ill.

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