I’m a Beached Whale!

Summer 2002. I had a waist!

I used to be skinny. Didn’t we all? Society says we all should be, right? All women should be a size nothing, with a thigh gap.

Until you are, and then people think it’s ok to say things about your too-small size.

What I wouldn’t GIVE to be skinny now like I was 15 years ago. Even 10 years ago. I mean, I wouldn’t give up my ice cream. Or most foods. Ok, I love food, and if you tell me I have to give it up to be skinny again, I’ll have to take a pass.

When I WAS 115lbs, at 5’8, people saw nothing wrong with making comments about my being too skinny. Asking questions like, “do you ever eat?” Some would wait until I left the room and then would ask my friends if I was anorexic, and heaven forbid if I went to the bathroom after eating, because obviously I must have been making myself throw up.

Why is it so hard to accept that some people are just twigs?

I had some pretty awesome friends back in the day, and I earned some ironic nicknames: Shamu, Fat Chick, Chubby Fat-Ass. These names were given in response to the ridiculous questions people would ask my friends. Like, “does she eat? Does she have an eating disorder?” The people I was close to knew these questions drove me crazy! I was self-conscious enough about my bone-protruding figure. Their responses would be something along the lines of, “that fat chick? What are you talking about!? She’s HUGE!” I always appreciated the people in my life who stood up to the skinny-shaming in my defense.

Of course now Justin smiles and says, “oh Bubba,” when I throw my Fat Chick sweatshirt on. Not because I AM fat (he’d say otherwise. Because he loves me. He has the self-esteem of a 14-year-old girl, so he can’t say anything), but I’m certainly not the underweight waif I once was.

I’m writing this in honor of a young friend of mine. We work out together. She has the elusive thigh gap, and she’s somewhere in the most desirable size 0-2 range. And she hates it. HATES it.

I can’t take myself seriously.

Let me take you back in time, to the summer of 2015. I had just been hired on as a lifeguard, after my 6 year hiatus from aquatics. Starting back at the bottom. Easily 12+ years older than everyone. And here was this super skinny girl with a bubbly personality, who laughed at everything, and was obviously liked by everyone. I immediately thought, “if only 18-22 year old me had that confidence and was happy with her size. This girl knows what she has.”

Come to find out, she doesn’t. Protein shakes, cheeseburgers, and lifting, all in an attempt to gain weight and shrink her thigh gap.

Shrink her thigh gap?!?! Is she crazy?!?!

In the time that I’ve gotten to know her, I realized she is equally the self-conscious skinny girl I once was.

If it isn’t ok to walk up to a person who is overweight and say, “damn, you’re huge,” why is it ok to say to a skinny girl, “do you ever eat?” Or “you look like you just escaped a concentration camp,” or “where’s your butt?” These people aren’t funny, and they aren’t friends. It is not ok to make fun of anyone, but don’t for one second think that skinny equals happy. We all have our own self-esteem monsters we’re fighting.

Her frustration is not lost on me. I know all too well the way people talk. Is it jealousy, or envy, or do they honestly think it’s funny? We are told every day that we, as women, should be no bigger than a model size 6, and anything larger is “overweight.” So, why tease the girl who indeed IS the “proper size?”

Every time she complains (probably because she’s sick of the “too skinny” comments), and says, “I WISH I could gain weight!” I warn her-be careful what you wish for, because someday you’ll be in your 30s, and you’ll weigh 50lbs more than you did at 22. And you’ll wish you could just drop 20lbs without giving up your ice cream (this is by far, the most important stipulation to any serious diet and exercise plan–do I get to keep my ice cream). And you’ll think, “I wish I had been less self-conscious then.” Telling her these things is my way of telling 20-something me to be happy and comfortable being skinny.

Everyone, every day, should wake up and look in the mirror and focus on the positives! If we could just stop wishing we could be something else. You’re fabulous, whether you need to lay off the ice cream, or enjoy another pint.