The Skinny On Being Thin 5/07

May 2007

toes

A week at summer camp at the age of 12 was a time of harsh discovery. My cabin mates were sprouting breasts of all sizes while my boyish figure held fast. We were not created equal after all. The well endowed were embarrassed about their fluffy pillows and the boyish embarrassed about their lack.

Perhaps we laid a pattern for self-image and self-acceptance in that cabin in the woods. Some women continue hiding under the covers and some regret their tiny pillows.

Having been thin my whole life gives me a rather unique perspective in a population that continues to gain weight. For those of you who think that maybe the skinny Minnie’s have it made, that life would be so different, that you would be so happy, if only you could be thin, this story’s for you. Allow me to dispel the myths, or share the skinny, on being thin.

First of all, while being thin reduces certain health risks and the need for weight loss, it is not, in and of itself, a ticket to happiness.

So here’s Myth #1. Being thin makes you happier, healthier and more successful. I hate to break the news, but thin people can be miserable, depressed, dreadful sick, and in dead-end jobs just like their larger counterparts.

For me, thin is just the way I am and I’m okay with it. I don’t even think about it, until of course someone reminds me.

This brings me to Myth #2. Thin people don’t have to put up with rude and insensitive comments. Oh yeah? I was once asked, “Are you healthy or do you have Crohn’s or something?” It doesn’t end at curiosity or criticism. Being thin seems to make me fair game for bad jokes too.

Myth #3 Shopping for clothes is so much easier when you’re thin. That’s not necessarily so. Larger sizes have become mainstream and some stores or departments don’t even carry my size. To add to the shopping experience, sales clerks aren’t always helpful with comments like, “Oh, that makes you look too . . . thin.” (back to Myth #2) I promptly bought the dress, which happened to be a perfect fit.

Myth #4 When you’re thin you can eat whatever you want. Yes, and so can the rest of you. Are you depriving yourself of foods you love or suffering about what you just ate? Try enjoying what you eat, eating what you enjoy and paying attention to how it makes you feel.

It’s true that what I eat doesn’t show up on the outside, but my insides certainly know the difference – like anyone. What I want and really enjoy is chewy brown rice and steamed broccoli. No kidding.

Don’t assume the slim are living on chocolate cake, because they can. Most know what they can get away with and what they can’t and eat accordingly.

Myth #5 You can never be too thin. One need only examine the eating disordered to dispute this myth. By attempting to be thin, happy, valued, accepted and successful, the “too thin” court self-destruction and are still unhappy. Being happy is not about appearance. It’s about acceptance.

So if you’re working at losing weight, keep at it, because there are a lot of healthy benefits to be realized. Please don’t use my story as an excuse to stay stuck. However, make sure you also pay attention to your emotional health. The happiness you feel when you lose weight, and the loss itself, can be short lived unless you learn to accept yourself with or without the lumps and bumps. Trust me, you will not develop self-acceptance just because you are thinner.

Remember that happiness is a choice. It has nothing to do with how you look, the job you’ve got or whether your kids have taken up residence at Harvard or the nearest penitentiary.

Set about to get what you want weight loss to bring: be it confidence, good health or steamy romance. Stop hiding and start acting like the fit, healthy, gorgeous person you want to become and the weight just might take care of itself.

As for fluffy pillows, enjoy them while they last. They might be the first to go when you lose weight.