Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash

I’m done being attacked for being thin

Not long ago I read an article on Medium (my apologies, I can’t find it at the moment) by a young woman who is naturally thin. She had been recently ill, and as a result, she’d lost some additional weight.

Suddenly people were taking notice, advising her to eat a sandwich already, on and on.

Will you kindly get a fucking grip, people. She was annoyed at the unwanted, unsolicited attention, for good reason, and so am I. As are most of us who are subjected to unsolicited opinions about our physical forms, of any type.

Her primary point, and I am all for this, is that first, her size is none of anyone else’s business. That she is slim naturally is what she is. She didn’t necessarily sign up for that, any more than someone else who was born a short endomorph signed up to be an egg on legs. In many ways, especially when we are young, it’s what we have, folks. As we age, as our bodies go through puberty and then adulthood and especially, if we end up having kids, our bodies do what they do.

How you and I take care of them has a great deal to do with the end result. I wasn’t born slim, as this woman was, my brother was. So was my mother. However, after two kids, late in life, she gained heft, a fact my father never ever let up about, as though by virtue of marriage he had the right to remind her that she had offended his sensibilities by gaining weight after presenting him with progeny.

No matter that he himself had put on plenty on his gut, something my mother had the kind good sense not to note to his face.

My father also felt it well within his purview to comment on my broadening hips as I entered my teen years. As if I could do a fucking thing about it, thanks to the genes on his side of the family.

This morning I read this piece

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Thin (or please stop talking about my weight)
Fat — and how to mitigate it — is all around me at the moment.

by Medium writer @Sunita Rappai, which also speaks to this issue. In it, she mentions something that I watched last December while in Ethiopia: how men at an open market grab the bodies of animals for sale, which is precisely how women are treated. Someone is always commenting on what padding we do or don’t have, as though it’s their God-given right (no it isn’t) and that we are all on display for others to opine about.

Mind your own goddamned body for a change. Thank you.

In my early thirties I sported an additional 80 lbs. I worked my ass off to get it off and have kept it off since. That’s 33 years now. Since then I have been subjected to endless comments about needing a sandwich (thank you no I don’t) if I come back from a long trip after a bout with food illness, or someone notes that I’ve got a slight muffin top after I put on an additional five or ten after a bout with stress. Or people have to comment at all in the first place.

When the ex was living with me, and this is a guy who is utterly obsessed with his body as a lifetime bodybuilder, one time he sat down next to me with a thud on the couch. I noted with some surprise that his great and abiding love for donuts had begun to express itself across his middle. At the time, he was 49, and still eating Krispy Kreme as if he was twenty.

Did I comment? No. Not on your life. His body is his business.

He is well aware of what is or isn’t on his belly.

But he felt free to comment on mine, if I were down ten or up ten, as though it was his right. It wasn’t.

You and I can notice. But in no way is it appropriate to start commenting about how someone is too thin or too fat or too anything.

In Medium writer Louise Sawyer 2.0’s piece

You All Love Those Slim Girls
Until you slap her ass and it sounds like a screenshot

she goes after the love affair with thin that we have in our society. Look, while I very much get her point, I had to comment on how thin-shaming is just as bad. There are plenty of folks, and I was among them, who end up painfully thin as a result of horrific eating disorders. That awful condition, and I paid for it dearly, is no more happy than a morbidly obese person who truly wishes they weren’t. Our bodies are our battlegrounds, and all too often we are playing out our heartbreaks in them. Commenting icily that someone needs to put on padding or take it off is ugly. Period. Because honestly it is none of anyone else’s business. You and I are not privy to the private angst or pain that someone else is living out, which is all too often expressed in their body shapes.

Increasingly we are a big society, which has a great deal to do with Big Food and Big Marketing, with very sophisticated food chemists’ ability to make things so tasty we can hardly stop eating them. There are indigenous societies who, after being introduced to processed sugar and flour now for many generations, now give birth to obese babies. Obese babies, thank you. That is one trend that is very hard to stop. They didn’t start that way. Introduced foods did it. (Please see The Case Against Sugar, by Gary Taubes.)

Or we aren’t affected by food at all, as the first writer I mentioned was expressing. She’s just fine, she is thin naturally, and by rights she’s tired of having people make her thinness an issue. And as someone who’s maintained my own mostly-svelte body now for 33 years I am just as tired of people hurling accusations at me at how easy it is (go screw yourself, kindly, you have no clue how hard I have to work on it, especially as I age) or how I’ve been this way all my life and it’s a breeze (kindly, go screw yourself, you should see the photo of my fattie self that lives on my fridge door, just in case I’m in a midnight mood to raid the fridge).

None of us has a single clue what someone else is going through that happens to be expressing itself physically. That any of us makes the monumentally unfair assumption that anyone else “has it so easy” being thin or at the other end, is a lazy tub who eats all the time simply because they are big is not only abusive, but you and I are likely completely wrong. Just WRONG.

My body is not here on display for you to comment on because you’re mad at yours. While I appreciate a kind compliment, and who doesn’t, I do not appreciate nor do I invite invasive judgments. Nobody does. Those are far more indicative of others’ hatred of their own physical forms. And, with respect, it’s also a statement of the work that we all have to do to come to terms with the vehicle that drives us around, if you will.

Ultimately, my thinness, or lack thereof, or a BF’s burgeoning belly, or lack thereof, or your spreading hips or lack thereof, are meaningless. What we do with our physical selves, the care we take to ensure our health and fitness are far more important. The body is what it is, we care for it or we don’t, it ages, it deteriorates, it dies. The soul that inhabits it never gets fat or thin. It can be diseased, however, and that dis-ease if you will is expressed when we attack others’ bodies, which are bloody well none of our business, just in case I didn’t make that point clear the first two times I said it.

So kindly, look, think what you will, please do not opine about my form or anyone else’s. I have done it far too many times myself, until I stopped, because I finally realized how private someone else’s physicality is. I might offer a compliment, but if I can’t say anything supportive, I keep my pie hole shut. And with respect, that’s not a bad thing for more of us to do, out of respect for people’s privacy.

Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy on Unsplash