Health And Wellness

Being Skinny Will Never Make Me Happy

Photo: Oneinchpunch | Canva
Woman embracing her body

I've spent more than half my life on diets. 

I started cutting calories in eighth grade, and by the time I was in high school, I'd tried probably ten diets. It was disordered and deeply unhealthy. I'd never had a weight problem, but that didn't matter.

Dieting was like breathing to me. 

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When I was in my twenties, I heard someone — ahem, Kate Moss— say that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, and it really stuck with me. 

Living in Los Angeles and working in fashion, it felt like skinny was the only thing that mattered — even though I was also in school at UCLA, having relationships, and growing friendships.

Skinny was more than a goal. It was work. My body was a thing I maintained like a job, though now I understand that it was more of a compulsion. 

And being skinny never made me happy. Not one time.

The "good" feeling that came with being skinny wasn't happiness, or satisfaction, or even a sense of wellness.

It was like being trapped in a hamster wheel, and I was sick all the time. I caught every cold and flu. I had horrible mood swings.

Working full-time and putting myself through college, I needed all the energy I could get, but instead, I treated my body like a piece of trash.

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It took another ten years to kick these ridiculous words out of my head forever. I heard Kate Moss say them, and I thought about how horrific a role model she was in propagating this myth. 

But by the time I figured it all out, I was a mom to two little boys and simply miserable. I had to choose to stop prioritizing thinness and start valuing experiences — particularly happy ones.

Even if they involved high-calorie foods or lazy days without cardio.

And now I know. Kate Moss was full of it.

Lots of stuff tastes better than skinny feels. Trust me, I've been there.

Cupcakes, cuts of steak with heavy marbling, burgers with buns, nachos, spicy tuna rolls with mayonnaise and sriracha. French fries dipped in aioli, crispy duck skin, and butter on baked potatoes. Pancakes. They all taste better than skinny feels.

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I still prioritize healthy foods. I try to think about nutrition above everything else when choosing what I eat.

I eat at least seven huge, colorful salads a week and only eat meat once or twice a week (I'm trying to cut back on meat for ethical reasons). I try to avoid processed sugars. I rarely drink alcohol anymore and I exercise regularly, even when I'm not in the mood for it.

But all of that is based on wanting to have a powerful, healthy body and a happy mind.

Not because I think I need to look like some skinny celeb or have a flat belly. (Hint: I don't have a flat belly.)

And sometimes I want a cupcake or some cookies. Sometimes I want a box of candy at the movie theater. Every once in a while I want to order a big icy Coke with dinner. So I have them.

Eating what I want, with an eye on happiness and health, has changed my entire life.

Listen, Kate. I'm doing a different thing now. Happiness has won out because I know that my life has value far beyond the size of my clothes. 

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Joanna Schroeder is a parenting writer and media critic whose writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and more. She is co-author of the upcoming book Talk To Your Boys from Workman Publishing.