Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Why being skinny just means there is less of me to love

I must be looking particularly frail lately, because suddenly everybody and their mother wants to tell me how skinny I am. "I mean, you're obviously not anorexic," my coworker informed me. "I can tell the difference. I mean, you have a butt, and boobs. Not big ones, but they're there."

"Um...thanks," I said, crossing my arms over my chest.

"I mean, you're not disgustingly skinny," my friend James told me the next day, à propos of absolutely nothing. We were on the treadmill cooling down after our workout, as I've taken to lifting weights to try to build up my puny, pathetic muscles.

"Wow," I said. "That's like, the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me."


"No. Are you kidding? That's a terrible thing to say."

"No, but I said you're not disgustingly skinny."

"Just stop talking. Oh, and by the way? You're not really that fat."


A few days earlier, walking around in class checking my students' wo
rk, I noticed one student had absentmindedly scribbled the title of a Bon Iver song in the margin of his notebook. Skinny Love, scrawled underneath two lines of notes on indirect object pronouns. And, not to read too much into a Bon Iver song, but...really? I mean, really?

I am a freak. I am a medical oddity. Years ago, I was lying on a paper-covered table getting poked and prodded by a physician's assistant, when-- "I'll...be right back," she said, backing slowly out of the room with a frightened look in her eyes. Back she came with the doctor, who poked and prodded in turn. "Right here?" the doctor asked. "Here?"
The nurse nodded. "That's a rib." The nurse looked at her quizzically. "Yeah, that's definitely a rib. The last one. Usually you can't feel it, but..."

"Have you always been thin?" the nurse asked me during a subsequent visit to the student health center during my college years.

"Yes," I said. "I have."

"And do you...eat?"

"Um, yeah, of course. Doesn't everyone?"

"And do you...throw up?"

"What? No! I mean, ok, last weekend, but that wasn't on purpose. I'd never had Jagermeister before, and... But anyway, I don't have an eating disorder, if that's what you're getting at." She raised an eyebrow. "Really!" I insisted.

"Hmm," she said, pursing her lips, and wrote something down on her clipboard.

So, yes. I am skinny. I get it. Hear that everyone? You can stop telling me about it now!

Though, if it makes you feel better, I am sure that will all be changing soon. The long, slow slide into the big 3-0 is rapidly accelerating into a free fall, as I find my birthday ever more quickly approaching. And, as everyone knows, or so various sources have gleefully reported to me, it's all over once you hit thirty. Your metabolism slows down, you start putting on weight, and your hair? It might even go gray. From there on out it's nothing but crows feet, age spots and spare tires, or so they tell me. And you know what? I'll take it. Anything to avoid another decade of hearing about how skinny I am.

Skinny and sis, 1989

Bringing skinny back, 2009


  1. Nobody has ever said the word anorexic about me... whether questioning, insinuating, or wondering. I should only BE so lucky!

    Really, though, as long as you're healthy, just count THIN as one of your numerous blessings.

    PS. And it's not over at 30. It's not even over at 40.

  2. Once someone told me that my face led them to believe I would be thinner.

    Thanks, douchebag.

  3. Like you, I'm afflicted with the malady I've come to call... "slight of frame"

    ... if it inspires people to feed me good food, then so be it!

  4. My sister and I both went through a phase in our early 20s when everyone thought we were anorexic. We weren't - it was just our metabolism at that point in our life. Don't let the haters hate, girl.

  5. I think you look great and I can totally sympathize. My scrawny 95-pound frame used to get criticized by well-meaning friends and doctors back home in canada, but ever since living in France, my tiny size has never been an issue. I guess I look sickly in north america and terribly chic in Europe...

  6. I get it too...I think you look great!

  7. I am so glad you talked about this! I am so not "skinny" but because I used to be overweight and am now slightly below the national average size wise suddenly I get called a skinny bitch all the time. Hello, I'm a freaking 10/12! I get it from friends, family, and people warning me I might not want to lose more weight (FYI, I'm not trying, I'm simply eating healthy and loving life). So I cannot even imagine how it must be for you who is thin. People need to quit hating and get over it. It doesn't matter what size you are, there will always be people to bitch about it.

  8. Being skinny doesn't necessarily mean you're healthier. I saw a program where the skinniest person was the least healthy and had the worst MBI index or whatever the fuck it's called and the highest body fat percentage. Surprising. And the fatter people were actually in better health. So don't let this put you in some false, misguided ease. Keep eating healthy, you skinny bitch you.

  9. Ahh, that's just the kind of tough love I need, JackC. Keep sweet talking me, baby.

  10. OMG, JackC. No words.

    Rachel, you are beautiful. And naturally and beautifully thin. I'm not a stalker, but that's not a bad thing to be.

    Best to you.

  11. Oh I plan on it honey! And also, on the topic of your upcoming thirtieth birthday; you know people say life begins at thirty (they do?) I'm sure they do. People say life begins at forty as well. And you know something Rachel, that's just what old people say to make themselves feel better about getting older and increasingly less attractive. Have a happy thirtieth! This is the last good year of your youth! It's all downhill from here! Pretty soon, people will be calling you ma'am! So look forward to that! And PS, at least you're not fat. So you got that. All joking aside, if you haven't discovered habitual drinking, try it. It works wonders.

  12. It really does bug me that people will think it's ok to comment in a negative way about a person's weight as long as the person is thin. These are people who would never walk up to an overweight person and say "you should really stop eating cheeseburgers, you know. you're unhealthily overweight." I used to get the skinny comments, but now that i'm 35 and have grown a little bit (hooray for finally having an ass!), i don't hear them anymore. And i agree with JackC. Back when I was at my skinniest, i wasn't necessarily fit. I still couldn't run a mile without gasping for breath, but people would actually make rude comments when I said something about needing to get to the gym. Don't put me down because you feel bad about yourself, folks.