I Was Bullied for Being "Too Thin"
"Skinny Girls Have No Right to Complain"
I have been thinking about writing this article for years, but there have been a number of things holding me back. I'd felt like being naturally thin was a curse, but I never had an outlet to express how I felt. I'd get picked on at school for a number of reasons, especially for liking science, which was not "right" for a girl and for being so thin.
The biggest hurdle in writing this is that I've always been told that I should feel lucky that I'm this thin. So, what right do I have to complain?
I did also hear, "you're lucky." But I'd also hear nasty comments. I had a friend in high school who was heavier, and she would always complain about how large she was and how no guy would ever love her. I always thought she was so pretty and envied her beautiful, blonde hair. However, one day I overheard her saying something to the effect of, "Well you know, skinny girls are all b*tches!" She wasn't talking about me, but the comment still made me feel bad.
I never felt like I was allowed to be upset about being disliked for my weight. I was "lucky," whatever that meant. I never really cared about how I looked. I just felt like I had a normal body. Not that I'm drop dead gorgeous (wouldn't that be nice), but I just worried about other things like homework.
My Design Specifications
I am somewhere around 5 feet, 4 inches, and weigh somewhere between 100 pounds and 110. For those of you who are whipping out your BMI calculators, my body mass index is a little under 18.
Apparently, it's genetic. My mom was unusually thin as a child and would get picked on... and her mother... and her mother. There's this story about when she toured a bread factory on a field trip and they gave each child a slice of bread. One of the employees looked at my mom with pity/concern on her face and said, "You can have two."
Getting Picked On In School
It started in 4th grade when I wanted to play soccer with other kids on the playground. I was disallowed because I was too little. At this point, there was no real bullying, just little comments here and there. I was really into dinosaurs, anyway, so I pretended to be on geology and explorer adventures during recess!
I weighed 45 pounds in the 5th grade and as some of the other kids started getting their growth spurts, my small size attracted more attention. I remember a girl on the playground asking me my weight. She said, "that's how much a kindergartener weighs; you should be dead." The comments increased and there was more exclusion, but at this point, I was still a fairly happy kid.
6th grade is when things took a turn for the worse. My playground fossil explorer games weren't popular with other kids anymore. Boyfriends, perfume, and dark lipstick were super popular and some kids were even having sex at this point. The comments went from mean to cruel and I became really introverted almost overnight. When I came home from school, I would hide in my closet, crying until dinner. One day, I was picking through some pebbles in the same (my dad had shown me how to find fossils in the playground pebbles) and a kid playing basketball shouted to me that I was weird. I shot back, "Yeah, well you suck at basketball." The argument went back and forth and was likely hurtful to both parties, but otherwise harmless until our substitute that day, who'd been watching over us at recess, stepped in and said, "If she's annoying you, you can go at her, if you want." The substitute lost his job over this statement, which at the time I was happy for, but now I feel bad for. He was a college student, just a dumb kid. All the children in the playground, except for some girls on the swings who were acquaintances of mine beat me up. That's about 40 kids. Kicking me in the sand, pulling my hair, throwing sand in my face, until the substitute broke it up. The school district was really proactive over, they took it very seriously, but I couldn't face those kids anymore, so my parents sent me to private school for a few years.
After going to private school, I was pretty confident. I'd made friends and gotten involved in after school activities, learned to use (and love) computers, but private school was very expensive so I returned to public school in the middle of high school. I was terrified to face those kids again, but they were actually really nice by that time -- perhaps their hormones had leveled and, let's face it, everyone is immature in 6th grade.
In high school, most of the weight thing actually came from the guidance counselor. Like I said, the school system was really proactive about things and perhaps, the guidance counselor even saw things that weren't there. She'd set up meetings with me and drop hints about anorexia. At first, I understood her concern but assured her I was fine. In fact, I really didn't care -- other than the weight comments. However, with continued pestering, I started to feel really self-conscious about my weight. I denied being anorexic, but she said that denial is common among those suffering from anorexia. This just seemed to confirm her belief. So anytime I'd deny having anorexia, it was my "anorexia" talking. This is kind of funny, in hindsight, but frustrating then.
The worst of it came during my senior year of high school. I was called out of class by the guidance counselor. She took me to the lunchroom and got me a yogurt and sat with me making sure I ate the whole thing. The next day at school an acquaintance came up to me and said, "I heard you're anorexic. If you need anyone to talk to, just know I'm there for you." I was crushed.
At this point, I quit high school with three months remaining. The principal understood my situation and allowed me to finish my coursework at home so that I could still graduate on. The guidance counselor did not return the following fall.
Things That Suck About Being Thin
There are a lot of weight loss regimes out there. I see a lot of body shaming of heavier women and I suppose if I were a heavier, I would probably buy into it. I bought into being a "problem" for being too thin. I think everyone would like to have a skinny waist, but trust me, you don't want this!
- Pant size comes up casually in conversation a LOT! Here's how it happens. "You are so thin! What size pants are those? I bet you're like a 0."
- They don't stock my size in stores. Stores want to cater to sizes that people actually buy! Not even online stores stock my size! There have been so many times I've come across a really cool political tee with a great message on it, but the smallest size is small or medium. I swim in a small.
- No breasts. Not a huge problem, because I was never particularly concerned about breast size.
I still get called anorexic. It baffles me, I love to eat and I can put away a lot of food! People joke about how I eat salad. They call it "the soup AND salad" given the amount of salad dressing I use, and that's after I've loaded it with chicken breast and eggs. Even co-workers joke about the fact that I would down a huge lunch in seconds like I'm some sort of voracious animal. While I eat a hefty portion of food, I just don't put on weight.
When you see a really skinny girl, do you think she has an eating disorder?
How Being Underweight Can Be Worse Than Being Overweight
There are more and more people who are finding their weight isn't "ideal" because they wear something larger than a size 8. Perhaps this is due to busy schedules not allowing Americans free time to go outside and exercise and to the junk that is pumped into food. As more and more people are finding themselves overweight, everyone hears more about it.
There are literally hundreds of fad diets out there -- they all promise to be "the best way" or "the healthiest way" or allow you to "eat what you want." The word "diet" constantly being thrown in a larger person's face can make them feel like garbage.
With all these constant reminders, it's pretty much been stamped into etiquette that you don't call a person "fat" and you don't talk with the person about losing weight. It's seriously just not nice to make comments on how overweight a person is. It's hurtful!
When it comes to being underweight, society throws all that etiquette out the window. It seriously does not exist! If you're a larger person, you've heard comments about your weight. It makes you feel like trash! Imagine getting those comments all the time!
Coping With Low Self-Esteem
It's been several years since high school, but I still get a lot of comments about my weight from people. People still point out to me that anorexic people deny having an eating disorder. It makes me angry when people say things like that to me. Of course, I never show it. I've become fantastic at pretending things are okay until I get quiet time alone.
There are things I have to watch out for, of course, with being skinny. I have to make sure that I get enough to eat even when I'm stressed --and I have to watch my weight to stay in a healthy zone.
I know I don't have an eating disorder. I just need to work on no longer making excuses for being who I am. I wish people wouldn't assume it's an eating disorder. I'm naturally thin. I'm just skinny, not anorexic.