The Skinny On Being Thin in America

According to the American Sports Data Inc website the number of obese Americans is now over 4 million and the average woman weighs an “unprecedented 163 pounds”.

Subtract anywhere from 40 to 35 pounds and you’ll find me… distinctly very un-average I suppose.

 Which was highlighted to me in a very public way at Krankies coffe shop yesterday…. Yes, folks after I was ending a business meeting with a former colleague yesterday Mia, a girl sitting in the corner, tried to stage an intervention on my behalf…but I am getting ahead of myself..let me give you a little back story.

With the increasing desire to be thin in today’s society there is a pendulum swinging out there that makes life very confusing. Starlets are criticized for being too thin (seriously Angelina does need a biscuit or two, I’m worried about her) but that doesn’t stop them from landing major ad campaigns and contracts…I just poured over the May issue of Vogue last night and there were a few spreads that had me wondering how the model had the energy to even make it to the shoot. They must have wheeled some of them in on a Gatorade drip…

Then those that go from obese to thin are held up as heroes and everyone wants to know their secrets and those that say they embrace their fuller curves get photo shopped within an inch of their life so as not to mess with the aesthetic of the magazine cover that has a headline talking about their aforementioned curves. It’s like a bad conditioning experiment from one of those Stanley Milgram psychology films they showed you in college …However , there is one group of resident aliens in society that doesn’t fit either one of these prior examples and that are the recipient of some pretty nasty backlash…no we’re not obese and no we didn’t diet to the size of drinking straw, we are naturally thin and it just isn’t acceptable.

I know as I’ve been the diet dart board my whole life. Much to people’s chagrin I was born with a high metabolism and  a small frame. So I am one of those people who loses weight too easily if I don’t eat correctly (at least 2000 calories a day) and I can eat anything I want whenever I want…which is why my cholesterol level is through the roof and also apparently why complete strangers feel that it is perfectly ok to stare, ask me if I ever eat or as one coworker told me years ago when I was shoving a Twix bar in my mouth “I hate you”.  It’s kinda not fair –most people don’t decide they hate me until AFTER they get to know me…

What has always bothered me is that in our sometimes overtly politically correct society if I weighed 200 lbs not many people would question me about my weight. However, because I am relatively thin strangers and even friends think it’s perfectly ok to ask me such inane questions as “so REALLY what do you do to stay thin?”  And I think we all know what the underlying meaning truly is in that question. I used to answer, well I have  a deep breath of air for breakfast, a Marlboro for lunch and another deep breath of air for dinner. Some would laugh at my obvious joke, others would say “really?”.

 Really.

Today, I weigh around 128 pounds and I am adjusting to my new curves. That’s code for I am still pissed that I can no longer fit into my size 2 pink sequin shorts that I modeled in a Samadahi Fashion Show 4 or so years ago.. So that means I weigh about 13 more pounds than I did in high school and 5 lbs more than I did when I was 25. 10 pounds on my frame is like 30 on most others so I admit it has been a bit tough to squeeze into jeans and give away some of my designer threads that fit perfectly 5 years ago but now look like casing for a sausage. 

Still I guess I have to apologize to the world at large. Apparently I am still too thin and that is still too unacceptable. Despite the fact that when I look in the mirror I see a woman with a not so flat stomach I like the new me…after years of struggling to put on weight, asking nutritionists what was wrong with me, and looking at calories on the back of items to make sure they were as high as possible,  I have finally reached what I consider an acceptable weight for me. And Spanx are always within reach.

Unfortunately none of this mattered for Mia the coffee house intervention specialist.

So flashback..my former colleague is a string bean as well, well over 6 feet tall and rail thin…we have joked about our mutual misfortune of people thinking he was sick and I was pointing my index finger towards my gall bladder. He told me his wife was going back to school to be a nutritionist and I exclaimed. ..”How great!” and told him of how a nutritionist I saw years ago when I got tired of people staring at my Olive Oil arms figured out that I needed at least six meals a day, more calories than most and I needed to exercise….ugh four letter word in my book. 

I relayed how I had gained 10 lbs over the past 6 months and my friend joked so what are you 105 now? That kind of ribbing from him was ok…but I proudly stated noooo I am over 120 lbs now ! We joked some more and as we were gathering up our notebooks, checking phones, etc all of  a sudden a woman appeared at our table and handed me a note. She smiled and told me she had overheard part of our conversation and hoped I wouldn’t be offended that she was coming forward. I thought she had a line on a Marketing job b/c that was what 90% of our conversation was about and then I read the note:

Accidentally eaves dropped and I apologize in advance for any misinterpretations and or any rudeness you may find in this, but there’s a support group off Hawthorne (2nd Mondays @7pm) for people with eating disorders…so if you consider yourself recovered, they may draw hope from your experience. Even if you struggle, maybe they can offer you strength.”

Wow, did somebody just 12 step me?  I got up and commented to her thanks but I don’t have an eating disorder, I…and then I stopped myself…what was the point… ? I thought I looked pretty cranking in my black sweater dress and funky heels…and whatever part of our conversation she had heard, she had also obviously assumed appearances are everything.

Still..I couldn’t resist trying to right a wrong. I called her and left a message. I told her that I knew she probably didn’t mean any harm but that she hadn’t eaves dropped enough to understand what we were talking about , and as I found myself trying to explain to some stranger something that was quite frankly none of their business I decided to stop and I hung up the phone. But not before telling her to text me her email addy, because I wanted to send her a copy of an article I had written about the struggles of being naturally thin in America…it was published in a national mag in 2006 and I guess 5 years and a few pounds later I am right back where I started from.

In the final analysis I know we have to accept ourselves and try and not worry what anyone else thinks. We are sometimes our own worst critic, judge and jury and in my humble opinion there isn’t any more room in this “courthouse of life” for those who find comfort in bringing others down.

So the next time you see a thin person don’t assume the worst and most importantly, don’t assume it is ok to cross the line between curious and combative. Respect is everyone’s right and at the end of the day that’s what carries the weight.

 Now, if you’ll excuse me there’s a pound cake muffin and a cup of coffee waiting for me and I can only hope that the guerilla weight gain troops are not.

 

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About kimthore

Freelance journalist, writer, arts and entertainment guru.. I'm a reviewer, music critic, publicist, columnist, writer, marketer and artist.... In a weird combination I am also a Process Improvement Expert with 15 years experience in Six Sigma, CPI, ISO, etc...so I can tell a corporation how to work more efficiently with Dio playing on my IPod
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