Skinny Shaming

This morning I heard there’s a new Instagram account called youdidnoteatthat. I guess it “calls out” skinny and/or fit people who pose with greasy and/or fattening foods by declaring “you did not eat that!”

Huffington Post thought it was a genius idea. For me, it comes off as obnoxious and judgmental. Up until age 25, I had a remarkable metabolism. As long as I did cardio for 30 minutes/week, I could eat whatever wanted and never be bigger than a size 6. When I was thinner, I was a size 4 but my hips don’t lie so I really can’t fit into anything less than a size 4 no matter what my weight is! And when I say I ate whatever and was this size, I mean I ate whatever! I think I used to have like three desserts daily… after dinner (oh yeah and a dessert after lunch and sometimes after breakfast!). If I didn’t put in my 30 mins of cardio three times per week, I did gain weight. But 30 minutes of exercise three times per week was a small price to pay for all the brownies in the world. Am I trying to say I was ever as skinny as most of the people on this Instagram account? No. But I am, at this point in my life, surprised that I was ever able to eat like a boss and be the size I was.

At 25 years of age, my metabolism and gut rebelled and said “hell to the no more!” I packed on almost ten pounds within six months. This was also the age when I started working in the domestic violence field (coincidence? I doubt it!). For the first few years, I ignored it. After gaining the first ten pounds, the weight gain plateaued and I could still eat whatever I wanted as long as I put in a couple of hours at the gym per week. So I was little heavier? Maybe a size 8 or 10 instead of a 4 or 6? Whatever! I was too busy eating burritos and ice cream sundaes to care.

Then I turned 27. Coincidentally, or perhaps not so much, at this point I was going through an incredibly stressful period of my life and sleeping less/having nightmares/experiencing general numbness alternating with panic. And then the pounds began to pile on with reckless abandon. I was already ten pounds heavier than I typically had been and so when I gained another fifteen pounds (in leas than six months!), I realized I’d gained 25 pounds in just a couple of years. And there was neither end nor plateau in sight. The pounds just kept coming.

Weight sits strangely on me. Twenty-five pounds later, I of course looked different. But maybe not as much as you would suspect. Or maybe that’s what I like to tell myself… My stomach has always been relatively flat but my hips, butt and thighs take the cake (literally, haha!). And so while I didn’t necessarily look “fat,” (though definitely bigger than before!), I recognized that this may be an unhealthy trend. Especially considering the fact that there was no end in sight. So I decided to make a change.

Let me preface this by saying that this was the right choice for me. I think a lot of people who are chubby/fat are beautiful and I can see the ways my more pronounced curves can be quite nice. Again thanks to my hips, I always have had and always will have some curves! But really it’s about what you’re most comfortable with and what feels best for you. And for me that new endless weight gain was outside my comfort zone.

So I cut back on food and made sure I was exercising a little more. The amount of food I consumed was really what needed to be lessened. I tried in vain to extend my workouts in hopes of being able to maintain my typical eating habits through more hours at the gym. But no dice. I had to reduce my calories. It sucked. I had “cheat” days twice per week because no way in hell could I make it without a day or two each week of pigging out indulging. I dropped about 12 pounds and while I was still more than 10 pounds heavier than usual, I was okay with it. I cut back on calories and it sucked but it wasn’t too extreme. And I felt like it was manageable and I was not hungry too often.

When I got engaged, I did go on a more extreme diet. I knew my wedding day photos would be around for awhile and I wanted to look good by conventional standards. Was this a healthy, positive body image, feminist choice? Not really. Is making fun of my curvy hips and my weight gain any of those things? Nope and nope. But I grew up in an anti-woman, skinny obsessed culture and so I do have negative body self-esteem issues sometimes and I did want to be fit on my wedding day. I’m not trying to make excuses. I’m just putting my feelings and actions into context.

So I started a 1200 calorie/day diet. While I thought my previous weight loss diet sucked, that 1200 calorie/day diet sucked exponentially more with a capital S. I was hungry almost always and when I’m hungry, I am hangry. I did still give myself two cheat days per week. I am not being dramatic when I say that I never could have stuck to a diet if I didn’t take breaks. If I exercised I could eat more as long as my caloric intake was only 1200, with extra calories burned off through cardio. So I did go to the gym most days because that helped. Because I heart pizza and baked goods and wanted to still eat them. And come last August, I felt happy with how I looked and I made it through my wedding day. I wasn’t quite at the weight where I’d been once upon time but I weighed close enough and good enough. I was happy.

Then we were off to the glorious food-heaven known as Italy for our honeymoon. It was awesome. I knew I’d gain weight but come on, how often would ya get to live la dolce vita? And when we returned, fall was in full swing and work was super busy and I was stressed. All my pre-wedding weight decided to come and crash my party.

So again I found myself at a place where I was no longer comfortable with my weight. Again this is strictly based upon my own comfort zone. I had to do something. And I have been doing something and slowly but surely those pounds are shedding. I am not doing the frenetic diet anymore now that my wedding is over. It’s just not worth it. And I am not going to push myself to get back to where I was pre-25 years old. If it happens, great. If it doesn’t, I’ll make the best of it. There’s so much more to life than being skinny. I can be average, maybe even a little chubby, and be okay with it.

I’ve been cringing as I write this post. I loathe talking about weight and diet. I used to feel sorry for people (mainly girls and women) who talked about calories incessantly. It just sounded so mundane and tedious. And now that I’m in that position I can say that it absolutely is mundane and tedious. I also used to think that those girls and women shouldn’t worry about it so much. Now all I can think is, “Well that was easy for me to say then!” Because when your body and metabolism go all whacky on you and seem to have a life of their own, it’s disconcerting. And really, I didn’t feel physically as well with the extra weight. Not to mention the TMI that it is really uncomfortable to wear a skirt or dress in warm weather and experience the chaffing. I always experienced chaffing to some extent, tbh. But it’s so much worse with an additional 15-25 pounds :/ oh and it sucks to have to buy a new wardrobe and spend all this money because your clothes no longer fit.

So I’ve basically just laid out my entire weight and eating history. My point in all this is that we don’t know what is going on with anyone whose picture we see online so as long as they’re not hurting themselves or others, do we have to be so judge-y and mean? Can’t we consider the fact that these people might be fit and eat that food? I would’ve been pretty annoyed if someone had said/done that to me back when my metabolism rocked. I would’ve taken a picture of my skinny self and been all like “Heck yes, I ate those nachos and that cheeseburger… And those French fries…… Oh yeah and some cake.” And even now I have cheat days and when I lose enough weight to be considered thin, even skinny, I eat unhealthy foods sometimes. I’m allowed! And so is anyone else without being judged!

And maybe they didn’t eat that food, maybe they do have an eating and/or exercise disorder. And so then why would it be okay to shame them if that’s the case? There’s a correlation between trauma and eating disorders, whether those disorders involve over or under eating. So seriously, have we reduced ourselves to shaming people for their traumas and hardships? Oh wait this is the United States and/or the internet, of course we have reduced ourselves to that! Still it’s not cool to do that and it’s important to point this out. Maybe everyone else is doing it but do you actually, really want to be making fun of someone for the bad things that happened to them?

We’re just so damn obsessed with food and body image. And the United States in particular is not known to be healthy when it comes to either of those aspects. We turn to food for comfort and our food is overly processed and barely even food. We hate on our own bodies. Women in particular do this because of the toxic messages we get about our bodies. Then we hate on and publicly ridicule others for how they look or eat or both.

Bottom line, who cares if they didn’t actually eat that food anyways? And why are we so sure they didn’t?

Image

During my glory days…

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