Why It's Not A Compliment When You Comment On How Skinny I Am

Photo: Ilyuza Mingazova via Unsplash
Why It's Not A Compliment When You Comment On How Skinny I Am
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Self, Health And Wellness

By Skylar Jones

Yes, I said it: “You’re so skinny” isn’t a compliment. But before you start telling me how lucky I am, read on.

For the last 9 years, I have been an advocate for all body sizes. I’ve also spent a lot of time in allyship and challenging fatphobia.

During this time, many people would pipe in and remind me that being “too skinny” is also oppressive and hurtful.

RELATED: The Lifelong Damage Of Telling A Big Girl She Has Such A Pretty Face

After hearing this, I thought, "What? Too skinny? What does that even mean?" We are talking about Western ideas of beauty, where being skinny might as well mean winning the lottery.

Whereas our bigger beautiful ladies are left out of the conversation, or even condemned for their weight. While times are certainly changing and acceptance is increasing, it still remains a huge problem.

My story of being “too skinny” started about a year ago. I began going to the gym and made efforts to reach my optimal health.

However, after a couple of months, I started to feel really ill and a mountain of unexplained symptoms followed shortly after. Doctors were of no help.

So, I started to get a little worried, but I thought that I could manage it myself. I started losing weight — very quickly.

Fast forward six months later, and I had dropped 70 pounds. I am not a big person to begin with, but I still had fallen all the way down to 120 pounds.

To give you some context, I am 5’7" (and a quarter), but even in my teenage years when I was a competitive athlete, I never fell below 130 pounds. I knew something was wrong.

My uncomfortable symptoms persisted: heart palpitations, lack of focus, insomnia, irritability, digestion issues, a racing heartbeat. I felt helpless.

My family, friends, and coworkers commented on my changing body. Basically everyone I knew had something to say.

Finally, I advocated for blood testing in order to finally figure out what was happening. My heart dropped once I got my results. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. It felt like a death sentence.

Following my diagnosis, my mental health declined. I withdrew from my social life, and stopped all my extracurriculars that made me so happy. Instead, I immersed myself in research, treatment plans, and reading up on other people’s stories who shared a similar autoimmune disease as me. 

Today, I am 116 pounds. I am a size 0, and the scale will not budge. I am skin and bones. I’m avoiding the dreaded medication and attempting to heal my body with an abundance of healthy foods. Is it working? Stay tuned.

RELATED: You (Yes, You) Are Worth Way More Than A Number On A Bathroom Scale

My diagnosis is new to me, since it’s only been a couple of months now. I’m still working on trying not to obsess over it, (I also have anxiety issues) so you can imagine my terror. My clothes don’t fit anymore, so I have to buy new ones.

It usually starts with feeling hopeful for a while, but then I drop more weight. After that, I cry and go out to buy more clothes in different sizes, while my old ones are stored away awaiting the day I’ll be healthy again. 

So, when people comment on how "skinny" I am or how they want to “feed me,” I get angry.

Some people have even started rumors at my place of work that I have an eating disorder — which you can imagine was a fun time for me. It’s bad enough I feel betrayed by my own body, but having everyone’s two cents puts me over the edge.

It is not a compliment. It is a nagging reminder. A reminder that I am sick. A harsh reality I spend most of my time battling, researching, and treating with no avail.

Do not comment on my weight. You do not know me or my story. You also don’t have any business inserting yourself (so rudely, I may add) into my life and internal perceptions.

Leave me alone. It shouldn’t matter to you that I am working with my doctors to create a health plan to get back to myself. It shouldn’t matter to you that I have some difficult decisions to make in the near future about how to treat my auto-immune issues.

All everybody sees is a tiny tall person who needs a sandwich. Trust me, I eat nine meals a day. It’s a super frustrating time.

Stop thinking that I am superficial or shallow for being thin. Stop thinking that I starve myself or that I don’t belong in a world of ‘normal’ women. But most of all, stop gawking at me.

However, this situation has also given me some empathy about the things I’ve never really had empathy for. It has taught me so much.

But that’s just it — it’s mine to experience. It is mine to navigate. Not yours. 

If one more person comments on my “tiny” body, they might just be greeted with a fist. 

RELATED: Curvy, Thin, Whatever: All Women's Bodies Are Beautiful. Period.

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Skylar Jones is a writer who focuses on health and wellness, self-care, and self-love. For more of her health and wellness content, visit her author profile on Unwritten.

This article was originally published at Unwritten. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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