A Slice of Life

Being Skinny

My Own Slice of Life on Being Skinny

At nine pounds, five ounces I made my way into the world. As a kid, my weight gain was steady and my overall look was chubby. I don’t remember when I started to slim down but by high school I was very thin. My grandma thought too thin, but I thought I was just normal. People at school called me skinny and I grew to hate that word very much. Once my dad told me I was starting to look Ethiopian which was his clever way of saying too skinny. My Uncle Terry pulled me aside at a family gathering once and asked me if I was eating enough and gave me a short lecture about the importance of a balanced diet. By the time I reached college, I had hit my maximum height of 5’4” and barely cleared the one hundred pound mark. Again, I thought I was just normal.

One day I entered my history classroom at Saint Xavier and my male professor gave me a weird look as I approached my seat in the front of the room near a friend. As I sat down and started settling in I could feel his eyes on me. He began lecturing and stopped abruptly by asking me to please stand. Unknowingly I stood up and looked at him with a puzzled expression. He then asked me to turn and face the wall. I did. Then he asked the class if anyone could see me? As I slowly turned back to the face the front of the room, he yelled out “Oh, there you are. We lost you there for a minute when you turned.” I thought that would be my last living day on this earth. I looked at my friend as I slid back into my chair and she shrugged her shoulders and gave me a look that said “He’s an idiot.” So there I was sitting in my history class after my teacher announced to the room that I was skinny, almost transparent. From that day forward I hated any type of attention being drawn to my weight or my size, even more so than before. My thought was if you weren’t going to approach a person that was overweight and call them fat, then you better not approach me and call me skinny. I felt like these words were just as harmful.

Funny thing is that now after I’ve had two kids, to hear the word skinny used to describe me is kind of flattering. My husband calls me skinny sometimes but I think he is doing it to make me feel appreciated for bringing his children into the world. I’ll take it though. It’s crazy how that word – skinny – was such an ugly word for me for so many years. It’s also weird how I don’t remember that history teacher’s name, the course name, or anything I was supposed to learn in that course but his harmful words stuck with me for a decade.

So, I’ve decided that I was normal then and I am normal now. I’m not chubby and I’m not skinny. I’m not Ethiopian or starving. I’m not invisible or transparent. I’m also not giving that incident another second of my time. I’ve learned over the past two years that there are little eyes watching me and little ears listening to me even when I’m not paying attention to what I say and do. I’m raising a little girl and I want her to feel normal always and I’m going to model being comfortable with me so that hopefully she will be comfortable with herself because she is absolutely perfect. And I am her very normal sized mom.  

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Comments on: "Being Skinny" (5)

  1. If only society would care as much about our spirits, our kindnesses, our deeds. Perceptions and appearances are no way to go. Here is a quote from Panache Desai tat you might appreciate, “The key to changing the world, to changing your life, and to empowering those around you is authenticity – the willingness to be yourself – the willingness to be vulnerable – the willingness to feel – the willingness to live. I’m simply reminding you of who you truly are, supporting you into self-love and acceptance by eradicating the judgement that you’ve imposed on yourself and society has opposed on you.”

  2. My heart is breaking for the college-aged you. I cannot imagine what would possess someone- a teacher- to call you out in front of the class and say such hateful things to you. I’m very sorry that happened to you, but I’m glad that you’ve decided to move forward and let go of the past. It’s interesting how those hurtful things people say to us tend to stay with us, and the positive things can float by the wayside. Thank you for being open and sharing this with us.
    ~Jennifer

  3. Good for you for saying all these things! Even more so for saying you are going to be a model for her to be comfortable with herself!

  4. I can’t believe that your history professor would do that to you. What was he thinking? I love that you’ve turned that around and are so aware how to be a role model for your daughter. She’s a lucky girl!

  5. Stunning post. Seriously. You gave me something to think about, but I am also thinking that this a great candidate for publishing in a local newspaper, magazine, etc. I’d even show it to our 8th grader students as part of our monthly school-wide bullying discussions. This is, hands down, one of my favorite posts (so far) during this SOL challenge…

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