If I were to tell you that someone I know has often faced weight discrimination, would you think this person is over-weight? Magazine covers are often graced with waif-like models. Ribs, bikini bridges and thigh gaps are desired body features. Well, today I would like to introduce you to *Nicole. An acquaintance of mine who is underweight, not by choice, but because of her genetics. Nicole has all of the above, a thigh gap and a bikini bridge, but that doesn’t mean she is free from social ridicule. From her story, you will see that life can be hard the for thin, and people can be just as cruel. Life isn’t always rosier on the skinny side.
Last month I was in Shopper’s Drug Mart with my daughter. We were buying her feminine products for her first menstrual cycle. It was an emotional time for both of us. My baby was growing up, and she was anxiety-ridden about the whole life change. We were nearing the checkout counter when I noticed two middle-aged women in same aisles. As I passed, I heard one mutter quietly, but not quiet enough, “someone get that girl a sandwich.” They both started to giggle, upon which, the other said, “do women that size even get periods?” I was with my daughter, so I took the high road and just ignored them. When I was in bed later that night I was overcome with emotion and I began to cry. I was just thinking such negative thoughts, questioning my ability to be a good single-parent, thinking about those cruel comments I overheard in the drugstore. I also started to feel insecure about my body again.
Years ago, I had gone out night clubbing with some friends. We were pretty drunk, and as we ran across the street in the rain to catch a cab, I tripped over a sewer (one of those sewers with the bars.) A so-called “friend” yelled out, “hurry Nicole! Don’t slip through that sewer. You could probably fit!” It was just so natural for her to tease me. We were also with a heavier girl that same night. Never did she mention her size. Around this same time, I became pregnant with my daughter. My body changed a little and my breasts and thighs became fuller. My ex (my daughter’s father) often made comments that he liked my new booty, and bigger chest. After giving birth, my body returned back to skinny. I think I lost even more weight from eating less to care for a baby. When my boyfriend began to cheat on me, I turned a blind eye. I was at home, cleaning, cooking, changing diapers and feeling horrible about myself and he was out picking up girls. Don’t get me wrong, my child is my life and I couldn’t imagine life without her, but those few months after her birth were tough. I was often sad and lonely. This was around the time J-Lo became famous and everyone was talking about how beautiful her curves are. I often spent the time looking at my body in the mirror and hating how I looked, wishing for fuller hips, and thighs. Just as a big girl may wish for skinny legs or a flat stomach, I was wishing to be bigger. Maybe if I had a bigger booty, he would love me again.
It wasn’t always like this. In high school I was envied by many girls. They would all tell me how lucky I was to be skinny. I got a lot of compliments for my boyish frame. Some were jealous that I could eat anything I wanted and never get fat. It was true. I loved Big Macs with extra fires. I loved jumbo Oh-Henrys and bags of chips and I wouldn’t gain a pound. Everyone would ask me my secret to being so thin and not gaining weight. Did I purge in private? Did I take diet pills by the bottle? Did I do non-stop aerobics? Nope. I did none of those things. As a matter of fact, I hated exercise. I never exercised. I was just a natural string bean.
Presently, I’m still pretty skinny, but I have changed my thinking and lifestyle. I cannot eat whatever I want now, because any size I gain goes right to my stomach. Not just for me, but for my daughter. I have to be an example to her, so I love and accept who I am. My daughter is very curvy (sure didn’t get it from me!) Never do I want her to wish to be smaller or different. I tell her God made us who we are and we have to be thankful. I cook healthy foods for us and rarely do we go to fast food places, and I quit smoking. Before I moved up North, I went to Zumba with Char (Tigress) and our mutual friend Desiree a few times. I loved it because I love to dance. Now me and my daughter go to Zumba two times per week at the local community centre in my new city. She loves it too and I want her to be active. Not a couch potato like me at her age. As for my love life. I’m single and skinny. Any man who is with me will love me for me, and that’s non-negotiable. I love myself and I love life.
Thanks for listening to my story.
Thanks to you Nicole for sharing your story. Skinny, large, short or tall, it’s never acceptable to comment negatively on the appearance of others, because you never know who will be crying tears on their pillow that night from another person’s words. Compassion and respect go along way.