No recipe today. I just need to share something that is on my heart for a minute. I nearly deleted this post 12,390 times, so I hope you stick with me.
Carrie from Bakeaholic Mama recently shared a post about our use of the word “skinny”, and it stirred up something that has been bothering me for quite a while. Have you read her post? No? Well, hop on over there and get to it. I’ll wait.
Back? Ok, good.
You see, a few months ago I was invited to a private blogger event primarily for baking bloggers. In the middle of the event, one of the other bloggers in attendance turned to me and said, “You know, we all hate you because you’re so skinny.”
Now, her tone of voice was upbeat, and she followed it up with a giggle as if she was kidding, but the stormy look in her eyes and the hollowness of her laugh told me that she was actually completely serious.
We spend a lot of time striving to be “skinny”. We repin pictures of women with the ideal “skinny” body onto “fitness inspiration” pinboards. We label recipes as “skinny” and then watch them go viral. We eat like birds in an attempt to look like the models we see in magazines. And then, when we are unable to achieve the figure that we think we want, we make backhanded comments towards those who are “skinny” or joke about them having an eating disorder.
That was not the first time I have had a remark like that aimed at me, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. If I had a dollar for every time I have heard, “How do you bake so much and stay so skinny?”…well, I would be a very rich woman. But what that woman, and most of those people, don’t know is that I have ulcerative colitis, a chronic digestive disease that prevents me from putting on weight. While this might sound like some kind of amazing gift, I would happily trade being “skinny” and chronically ill for a fully-functioning, healthy body in a heartbeat.
One of the points that Carrie makes in her post is that the word “skinny” is, according to the dictionary, synonymous with words like “gaunt”, “emaciated”, “skeletal”, and “scrawny”. We strive to be “skinny”, yet would we so quickly strive to be “gaunt” or “emaciated”? Not likely.
I have a loved one who struggles with an eating disorder. I have seen what the quest to be “skinny” can do to a person. I know firsthand what it looks like to watch your own body shrink away until you are so “skinny” that the people who care about you wonder if you are actually sick. I know what it looks like to be “gaunt” or “scrawny”, and it looks unhealthy. So now, when I go to the gym, I work out to be fit, and toned, and strong. I watch what I eat not to lose weight, but to know that what I’m putting into my body is helping to make it as healthy as it can be. I’ve stopped telling myself that I need to be a certain number or size, and have started paying attention to how I feel.
So let’s start to rethink the words that come out of our mouths (or, in the case of the internet, our keyboards). Let’s stop talking about how much we want to be “skinny”, and start striving to be healthy, instead. Let’s enter the gym and not be intimidated by or jealous of the “skinny” girls running on the treadmills, but instead pick up some weights and see what our own bodies are capable of doing. Let’s work to feel at home in our own bodies so that we don’t feel the need to put labels on the bodies of ourselves or others.
It’s not easy. Sometimes it’s downright hard. But it’s well worth it. Believe me.