"You are so lucky you are so skinny"
"Must be nice to eat anything you want"
"Wish I could keep my weight down like you"
"You're so tiny and childlike"
"You could be in high school still"
"Wow you're thirty, you look 16"
or hearing these replies:
When I say I need to gain weight, "huh, Give you some of mine"
Always hearing I'm "cute or adorable," never hearing I'm "beautiful or sexy".
All these things can really hurt my feelings. But let me explain further where this post is coming from.
Today a friend shared on Facebook about how some posts are body shaming & lots of people don't realize it. For example she showed this picture:
It's not just this post, but I hear lots of people say things like " I'm not afraid to eat a hamburger. A man likes some curves." Or I hear remarks how all people who are size 0-2 are unrealistic and anorexic, etc. I understand a lot of times people may mean to help boost body images for girls who wear bigger sizes. I understand people wanting all girls to feel beautiful (especially considering the size of most models & society's views right now "needing" to being so tiny). But I wish people really understood the gravity of these types of posts or things they say.
I'm 31 years old, I only weigh 101 lbs right now, I wear little girl's size jeans, I'm carded for everything, I'm mistaken as a high school student still. While I don't blame someone for carding me, it is tough when it's always followed by "Wow, I never would of guess you were 31, you're so tiny and young looking." I usually follow it up with " Yeah, I will love looking so young when I'm older" but deep down it hurts my feelings.
Why you may ask.
I'm 31 years old, I'm proud to be 31. I have worked REALLY hard to be alive today (not that those who aren't with us haven't), but I'm proud of my age. I want to be a mother, I have a career, I'm married. I do NOT want to look childlike still. I have Cystic Fibrosis, was born 12 weeks premature, do 10 breathing treatments & consume calories like crazy to try to stay healthy!!! Here are my thoughts that run through my head when I hear those top quotes I hear all the time:
"You are so lucky you are so skinny" -------- No, I'm not. I'm skinny, because my body doesn't digest food properly, I take enzymes every single time I eat. I struggle to keep my weight and therefore energy up. Being tired from not having enough calories is exhausting. Not having energy to carry laundry to the basement, not being able to climb the last flight of steps. Needing a Stomach feeding tube for 17+ is a big deal. I worked hard for 5 years to get to a point where I can maintain my weight without the need of a G-tube and you telling me how tiny I am minimizes all my work and effort. It just reminds me how unhealthy I am thanks to my Cystic Fibrosis.
" Must be nice to eat anything you want"---- Correction, I can NOT eat everything I want. I actually have trouble with fast food, anything fried or greasy, I can't drink soda pop or any caffeine anymore (not too mention alcohol). Good bye coffee and non decaf tea. PLUS, I have to eat so much there are days I have to force feed myself. If I eat too little I don't get enough calories, so I push myself, which sometimes means I overeat. My stomach feels full and bloats super easy. I also, don't get to eat a lot of food I love. For example, Pickles, Grapefruit, Salad, fresh fruit some of my favorite foods! None of these things have enough calories. I have to consume at least 3,500 calories a day to maintain my weight, so I can't waste stomach space most days on the low calories foods I love. I force myself to drink 2-3 ensures a day in between my meals too. Try being in all you can eat contest and pushing yourself to win. Then you will get a glimpse of what I feel like.
When I say I need to gain weight and hear "huh, Give you some of mine" or
"Wish I could keep my weight down like you"--- I understand some people struggle to keep weight off, but by saying this, you obviously don't realize how Cystic Fibrosis has impacted my life or why I'm underweight. Saying " I WISH I could help and give you some of my weight, is different. That is showing you understand my struggle and want to help. But usually I hear "huh, Give you some of mine" - this is saying your extra weight is a hassle and you'd be glad to get rid of it. In a way it says your extra weight is more of a struggle than mine and I should realize my luck. What luck??? I struggle to keep my energy up enough to do daily chores around the house, not to mention keep up with my job as a Realtor, add on the fact I need to work out and push my lungs with exercise every single day (which makes it even harder to keep weight on) to try to keep my lung function at 50% as long as I can.
"You're so tiny and childlike"
"You could be in high school still"
"Wow you're thirty, you look 16"
Always hearing I'm cute or adorable, never hearing I'm beautiful or sexy.--- I can group these 4 together, as they all address similar points. I don't feel like people take me as serious, because I'm tiny and therefore apparently"cute." Think about it, if I was 6ft tall and weighed more would you still pick me up when you hug me or swing me around? Would you still like to rest your arm on my head while standing next to me? Most people assume its good to look younger, because that is what society tells us to think. But, you thinking I don't want to look my age is disheartening to me. I was a Pre-/Post school age day care teacher and trying to take authority over 8 year olds larger than me was difficult. I have worked so hard to reach this age and I want people to recognize me as an adult. Friends and Family, please say out loud really quickly words to describe me. Cute, Tiny, Small, Adorable? Any of those come up?
Not to mention being referred to as cute, skinny, tiny, young looking plays a big role on how I view my body. I struggled a lot through high school and college with being proud of how I looked. When I first got my feeding tube in 7th grade and was gaining weight, I loved the energy it gave me. But I felt uncomfortable not being as skinny. Hearing how skinny I was all my life, started to be part of my identity. No longer being the tiniest scared me. Did I lose that part of me? Was I not as cute? Then when people started to add that they could see the weight gain & I looked healthier with a bit of "chub in my cheeks" I started to freak out. Chub in my cheeks?!?! I was always the skinniest one. It's all I felt I had. I wasn't the strongest, fastest, smartest, most athletic, I was just the skinniest, the tiniest, the small one with CF. In high school, I was super healthy and saw how the extra few pounds (110) helped me. But, I fought myself a lot to gain weight in college. I always knew I needed to gain weight and be healthy, so I honestly did and I tried. I didn't let my fears of body image really affect me until my last year in college. I had one boyfriend that would make lilttle comments, during that one year. And I failed to try and gain weight, letting it drop to my all time lowest under 90 lbs. With help of my roommate Stacey, I broke up with him and worked through the issues, and got my weight back to 100s.
Being the "skinny one" and identifying as it was just part of my problem. Another huge issue, I still struggle with today is the feeling of not being "beautiful or sexy." The thankful part is I have the most supportive and awesome husband. I actually told him I could not date him for a few months (after he first asked me out), since my last relationship before him was 2 years prior and the unhealthy one I spoke about. I told him how while dating I put meds on the back-burner and struggle with my weight. We had a long open talk. He proved to me he would put my health first in our relationship and eventually won my heart and hand in marriage.
While, I still don't usually think of myself as sexy or beautiful and still struggle with always feeling young & cute. I'm working on it. But this is one BIG reality to being so tiny (for all CF patients & non- CF patients alike). As a 31 year old women, or a teenage going to prom, or a women on her wedding day.... believe me we don't want to be "cute" anymore. Breaking down those preconceived ideas is hard after hearing the same word "adorable & cute" to describe me from age 2-31 years old. In fact, here is what I really think I look like: a frog. Most days my stomach is bloated or upset, so it sticks out. Almost where I can look a little pregnant sometimes. I have tiny limbs, no muscles, and CF patients can have clubbed fingers (from lack of oxygen). It's hard when I look in the mirror and see a frog...
Adding to the fact as that I have so many scars all over my stomach from previous surgeries, as well as a mediport in my right breast. I also had a feeding tube for 17+ years. I haven't been embarrassed of my scars, mediport, or feeding tube. I'm not afraid to show people and never hide them, since they all have saved my life. I'm blessed and proud to be alive and those scars show struggles and obstacles I have overcome. But adding all those scars along with my weight and body image struggle, it just adds to list of reasons why I'm not "sexy or beautiful."
Right now I am too low in weight (101, when I tend to stay around 105-108) and that was due to illness & hospitalization in April, along with work picking up more. But I'm getting it back pound by pound, thanks to my fitbit. And here are some current pics ( Post Below-I just took them.).
Please understand the struggle we go through to gain weight, keep our energy up, and stay healthy. Don't minimize it. Understand the impact of words.
I wrote this post, because I think this is an issue a lot of people have when they have a similar situation to me. Kudos to my friend for posting about that picture on Facebook. I just want to open everyone's eyes to the fact body shaming & body issues are so unique depending on the person and don't always pertain to the same case. Please keep this in mind.
And to all those struggling with similar or their own weight/body images feel beautiful in your body!!!
Stay tuned to hear about some AMAZING NEWS next week & all about next weekends vacation, and CF Walk on June 25th!!!!