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No recipe today. I just need to share something that is on my heart for a minute. I nearly deleted this post 12,390 times, so I hope you stick with me.

Carrie from Bakeaholic Mama recently shared a post about our use of the word “skinny”, and it stirred up something that has been bothering me for quite a while. Have you read her post? No? Well, hop on over there and get to it. I’ll wait.

Back? Ok, good.

You see, a few months ago I was invited to a private blogger event primarily for baking bloggers. In the middle of the event, one of the other bloggers in attendance turned to me and said, “You know, we all hate you because you’re so skinny.”

Now, her tone of voice was upbeat, and she followed it up with a giggle as if she was kidding, but the stormy look in her eyes and the hollowness of her laugh told me that she was actually completely serious.

We spend a lot of time striving to be “skinny”. We repin pictures of women with the ideal “skinny” body onto “fitness inspiration” pinboards. We label recipes as “skinny” and then watch them go viral. We eat like birds in an attempt to look like the models we see in magazines. And then, when we are unable to achieve the figure that we think we want, we make backhanded comments towards those who are “skinny” or joke about them having an eating disorder.

That was not the first time I have had a remark like that aimed at me, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. If I had a dollar for every time I have heard, “How do you bake so much and stay so skinny?”…well, I would be a very rich woman. But what that woman, and most of those people, don’t know is that I have ulcerative colitis, a chronic digestive disease that prevents me from putting on weight. While this might sound like some kind of amazing gift, I would happily trade being “skinny” and chronically ill for a fully-functioning, healthy body in a heartbeat.

One of the points that Carrie makes in her post is that the word “skinny” is, according to the dictionary, synonymous with words like “gaunt”, “emaciated”, “skeletal”, and “scrawny”. We strive to be “skinny”, yet would we so quickly strive to be “gaunt” or “emaciated”? Not likely.

I have a loved one who struggles with an eating disorder. I have seen what the quest to be “skinny” can do to a person. I know firsthand what it looks like to watch your own body shrink away until you are so “skinny” that the people who care about you wonder if you are actually sick. I know what it looks like to be “gaunt” or “scrawny”, and it looks unhealthy. So now, when I go to the gym, I work out to be fit, and toned, and strong. I watch what I eat not to lose weight, but to know that what I’m putting into my body is helping to make it as healthy as it can be. I’ve stopped telling myself that I need to be a certain number or size, and have started paying attention to how I feel.

So let’s start to rethink the words that come out of our mouths (or, in the case of the internet, our keyboards). Let’s stop talking about how much we want to be “skinny”, and start striving to be healthy, instead. Let’s enter the gym and not be intimidated by or jealous of the “skinny” girls running on the treadmills, but instead pick up some weights and see what our own bodies are capable of doing. Let’s work to feel at home in our own bodies so that we don’t feel the need to put labels on the bodies of ourselves or others.

It’s not easy. Sometimes it’s downright hard. But it’s well worth it. Believe me.

33 Comments

  1. Well said! I get this. All. the. time. And, like you, I can edge over the side of too-thin due to a digestive disorder. You can have my skinny and my hair falling out and the dark circles under my eyes… Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Thank you for the comment! And yep, I know what you mean about the hair, dark circles, brittle and cracking fingernails…nope, no thanks. Hope you’re doing well!

  2. I’m so glad you found the courage to post this! About ten years ago my Dad was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. He’s on medication, but that too has nasty side effects and he still hasn’t gained much weight. People say things to him all the time about how skinny he is, even within our family. I can’t imagine the struggle. Thank you for helping bring awareness!

  3. I’m so glad you didn’t delete this post. Once we women hit a certain age and realize we have to eat well and exercise to maintain our ideal body image, our minds go berzerk. We under eat, over eat. Work out too much, don’t work out at all…repeat. And those of us who are able to maintain a healthy lifestyle do get pointed ridicule (as you’ve experienced). Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, so I share your attitude and say (to myself) just live your mo’fo’ing life.

    I totally clicked on and read Carrie’s post when you told me to – I am so happy she put a definition to “skinny” (a word I have never in my life considered to look up in the dictionary). Sure, not being overweight is a priority of mine, but looking gaunt and boney certainly is not. Totally put things into perspective. I love that you followed up with your own experience and discuss your disease. This was brave and hopefully women can see it as a huge eye opener. I enjoy reading other women’s take on health/eating/fitness, so I say let’s bring it on. Let’s talk about this stuff in the blogging world, because if we don’t, we may put off a false representation of what being healthy actually means. I just love you girly…and thank you for doing this!

    1. I love you, too! And yes, I too think we need to talk about these things more often. I mean, certainly I don’t just sit around and eat cookies and magically look the way I do (although, really, that would be nice), but if you just read most sites, you’d think that might be the case. We work, we sweat, we (often times) stress out too much. Rarely do we manage to get our acts together – and that’s ok! But let’s talk it out.

  4. Thank you for sharing this post. I think it’s so important for people to realize that just because you’re not calling someone “fat”, doesn’t mean that it can’t be hurtful. I actually posted on a similar subject today.. while it may sound innocent and possibly even complimentary to tell someone to go eat a piece of cake, people don’t know the whole story. You don’t know if someone suffers from an eating disorder, ulcerative colitis, or just plain worked hard to get to where they are.

    1. Thank you for your comment! Everybody has a story. I think sometimes we forget that those stories might be different than our own when we say things without thinking.

  5. Stephie, I love you. You are beautiful and amazing and this post is exceptional. I’ve been guilty of the “skinny jealousy” and you’re absolutely right that it is ridiculous. I don’t want to be skinny. I don’t want to be emaciated. And you, poor thing, are sick (my dad has ulcerative colitis too-he’s pretty little, save for his disproportionate beer belly)–but beautiful (not skinny, you do not look skeletal to me, just tiny :P). Everyone has their own experiences, their own ups and downs, and it’s important to remind us of that. Thanks love <3

    1. Thank you, darling. And I didn’t realize your dad and I were UC buddies! Maybe that’s why you and I get along so well – you understand the poopers! 😉

  6. What a great post, and so well written. I am trying so hard to change the way I look at myself and others. Stop comparing and start being happy and healthy. That look and that tone you get from someone who say’s “God, I hate you… your so skinny!” They play it off as if they are being funny and that it’s a compliment. But seriously, it’s not a compliment at all. I just don’t understand why women feel the need to comment on other women’s appearence all the time…. By doing so we make everyone around us including ourselves feel insecure about our size.

  7. Stephie, thank you so much for writing and sharing this post. Your thoughts (as well as Carrie’s) are so poignant, honest, and important to share. I hope there comes a time when the shapes and sizes of our bodies are not the focus of criticism. I field a lot of the same “you’re such a stick, you should eat more of your cupcakes!” types of comments, as well as a lot of comments about how I would “look better” if “put on some muscle.” The past several years of my life have been spent weaving in and out of disordered eating patterns, and while I’m a lot healthier than I used to be, I still have a ways to go. Skinny shaming is just as bad as fat shaming– it frustrates me that much of society has yet to come to that conclusion.

    1. Jealousy, that green-eyed monster, often keeps us from realizing that our words are hurtful more than helpful. Such a shame. Time to build each other up, not tear each other down (even unintentionally).

  8. Thank you, Stephie, for this post. I have always been a small woman. But now I also have physical issues that prevent me from being at optimum weight. I have tried to explain this to people my entire life, and you just said what I have always tried to say much better than I could. I would ask you not to doubt your posts anymore because as you can see there are many people who were just afraid to come out and say it. God Bless you.

  9. Oh, Stephie! Thank you so much for this post.
    I’m so tired of anti-skinny talk. I work hard to eat well & exercise, so, yeah, I’m not overweight. It’s a simple concept.
    I’m so glad to hear your side of the story. I had no idea about you colitis. I used to work with a woman who had it, and I’m sorry to hear you have it.
    Take care of yourself!
    And thanks for talking about this important subject 🙂

  10. Amen sistah! I have been guilty of putting myself in a bad place by not loving my body for what it is. I will tell you that being pregnant has definitely put a different spin on how I treat my body. It also made me realize that I can eat balanced and healthy and that shockingly, my body likes when I do that. It isn’t easy to take care of your body and work out but if you start thinking positively before you do that work, it makes it a bit easier. It starts from the inside out.

  11. Way to go, Stephie. This was really brave of you to share, and to say what was on your mind. Sadly, shame about our bodies comes in all shapes and sizes. Thanks for reminding us to show some love!!!

  12. Such a wonderful post Stephie. I completely agree… I’ve struggled with an eating disorder myself (luckily I’m healed now, praise God!) and I can’t read all of these so-called motivational posts anymore. They’re all self-criticism, self-obsession, bitchiness and dangerous dieting, disguised in a veil of positivity. It make me sad. Oh, and you know what? I get called skinny all the time too. People seem to think that it’s completely fine to poke fun at thinner people whilst it’s a ‘taboo’ thing to mock those who are overweight. Both are just as hurtful, in my opinion. Checking out Carrie’s blog now. Thanks for being brave, for posting this and for bringing her work to my attention too. Hugs xxx

    1. Thanks for being brave and posting your comment! So glad you are doing well now and are able to shut out the dangerous posts that encourage unhealthy lifestyles. xoxo.

  13. Stephie, thank you so much for this beautiful, honest post and reflection. I can relate to so much of what you shared, and it is such a good reminder to focus on what counts. Next time I’m at the gym, your words are what’s going to be in my head. You’re amazing.

  14. So lovely. My friend Kyla of Buttery Topping sent me your way. For years I was “average” then I gained more weight than I knew what to do with. Then I struggled with that. Then I was diagnosed with UC and in less than a year I became “skinny”. My family members (who love me and mean well) and some friends remark, “You don’t want to get TOO skinny” or things of that ilk. Mostly people who haven’t seen me in a while just tell me how amazing I look after losing all that weight. They mean well. But, while I’m happy to be at a “normal” weight and comfy place today, I know how quickly it all can change – and the way I got here was not fun at all. not one bit. I’d gladly trade the UC !

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