Don’t Hate the Skinny Girl: Beauty of a Woman Blogfest

This extra post is my belated contribution to August McLaughlin’s Beauty of a Woman Blogfest. (Unfortunately, I was unable to post yesterday.)

For most of my adulthood, I have been a size 4 or below. Wait! Don’t stop reading yet. Please hang in here with me.

I remember when I finally passed 100 pounds on the scale, between my junior and senior years of high school.

I didn’t remain there, though. I recently picked up a journal I kept during my first pregnancy, in which I wrote about starting my journey toward motherhood at all of 99 pounds. (Don’t worry; I gained a healthy 32 pounds.)

But much of my adult life I’ve been the “skinny girl.”

I have long advocated that we need to stop putting forth unrealistic ideals about women that include eating-disordered models and plastic surgery as a foregone conclusion. I loathed it when people slammed Alicia Silverstone for her body when she played Batgirl back in 1996. (I thought she looked awesome). I hate that half of the magazines prominently displayed at the grocery checkout chronicle the ups-and-downs of celebrities’ weight or feature covers with models who have been airbrushed into comical proportions.

I wish we would stress health. An unrealistic ideal woman is not healthy. She is quite possibly a size 12 starving herself to be a size 2.

However, some women really are size 2. That’s their body structure, build, and reasonable weight. And being the skinny girl in the room ain’t always the picnic you think it is.

What you don’t know about the naturally skinny girl in the room (one or more of the following are true):

  1. She’s still shopping for bras in the girls’ section, desperately hoping someday that her buds will become breasts.
  2. Her family or friends keep interrogating her about anorexia and bulimia, even though they’ve seen her eat and never once had any reason to believe she’s gagged herself.
  3. She gets “complimented” with comments like these: “You’re so thin, one of these days a big wind might just up and blow you away” (Like being compared to a tumbleweed is good?). “I could fit you in one of my thighs” (What does one say to that?). “You’re so skinny, I can see your bones” (No, you can’t! That’s my belt buckle).
  4. She struggles to find clothes that fit. Maybe the runway models have access to size 0 and size 2 fashions, but they are much harder to find in real stores. And forget shopping in the misses department. Her butt couldn’t fill a ramekin, much less a made-for-a-woman pair of pants.
  5. No one ever thinks she can lift anything or do any task that requires strength.
  6. She feels guilty eating in front of people who hate her for being a skinny girl.

As a woman, there are various challenges with being various sizes. I don’t know what it’s like to be a size 12, but some of you don’t know what it’s like to be a size 2. And before you start saying, “I only wish I had your problem,” I’d like to call on us women to stop the comparisons altogether.

The funny thing about my skinny self then (not quite so skinny now) is that my weight never played much into how I felt about my health. I knew I was eating enough and getting enough exercise. But it did play into how beautiful I felt. And I didn’t feel beautiful because I didn’t look like the women I aspired to be.

Beauty is not about comparison. It’s not about wishing you were that airbrushed model; discovering how to lose 10 pounds from some actress with a nanny, a dietitian, and a personal trainer; or even hating the skinny girl.

What does it matter if one woman is size 0 and another 16? They can both be absolutely beautiful in their own right.

Beauty is more about confidence. The way you see your body, the way you treat your body, the way you carry your body shows that you either know you’re beautiful…or haven’t figured that out yet. Appreciating who you uniquely are is the first step to being confident about your own beauty.

I am was the “skinny girl.” I’ve long since realized that I’m not ever going to have curves like Selma Hayek or Sofia Vergara. And that’s okay. I can still be beautiful…as just little ‘ol me.

What do you think? What makes a woman beautiful? Have you struggled with comparing? And if you did a Beauty of a Woman Blogfest post, please share the link below!

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56 thoughts on “Don’t Hate the Skinny Girl: Beauty of a Woman Blogfest

  1. Worth the wait, Julie! So true, the grass is always greener, eh? Why do so many people feel the need to point out one another’s faults, as a thinly veiled uncompliment? I hope many take your advice to stop comparing already, and simply look inside the other person.

    Here’s my contribution to this fabulous event: bit.ly/YJ7fIM

  2. I love your post Julie because I’ve known all those secrets of the skinny girl! Just like you, I was forever 105 pounds, which is normal for someone only 5’2″, ok 5′ 1 1/2″! But for years I volunteered with the Red Cross at blood drives and could never donate blood because I didn’t weigh enough. It felt embarrassing and helpless. Anyone who knows me knows I can pack away the food, especially if there’s cheese involved, but I’m a very petite person. I’ve actually had coworkers pick me up and nickname me “Little one”. Yah, those don’t really come across as endearing when you’re in a professional environment. So, I’m with ya! Let’s all work together to get rid of body stereotypes! Thanks for this BOAW post!

    1. I also hated not being able to give blood, Jess! The pleas to give blood almost made you sound like a selfish vampire if you didn’t open up a vein and help the dying. I felt useless and guilty, and there was nothing I could do about it.

      Yes, you are petite, but I don’t think I’ve ever described you that way. I just talk about my beautiful author friend I room with at DFW Con. 🙂 And your size indeed fits your frame well. I agree with “Let’s all work together to get rid of the body stereotypes!”

  3. Great post as always Julie. I was always the skinny girl too. I got teased and bullied for it most my life… women can be cruel. Since I hit 35 I stopped getting ID’d when I bought Merlot at the supermarket – hurrah – but also learned how quickly one can put on weight. I blame quitting smoking, age, hyperthyroidism, pre-diabetes, and a general lack of exercise – NOT the skinny girl in any restaurant. My sister is built to be a perfect size UK 16 – tiny waist, huge boobs and bum. I was built to be au unremarkable size 8-10. I’m more UK 10-12 theses days, and finally have boobs, although tiny! My youngest sister is UK 6-8, but built to be size 10-12: guess which has a weight ‘issue’? We must be realistic about our bodies, listen to what they need, and stop pressuring ourselves to look adolescent our entire lives. x

    1. Thank you so much! Yeah, I’m not hovering anymore at that 100-pound mark. Something about passing age 40 for me has shaken things up a little. I love your comment that “We must be realistic about our bodies, listen to what they need, and stop pressuring ourselves to look adolescent our entire lives.” Bodies grow and change and age. What even looks right on our bodies at age 20 might not be right for our bodies at age 50.

  4. It was so nice to read this! I went through most of the same things and the anorexia and bulimia questions get so old after awhile. I also always felt guilty about being so tiny when my mom and sister were larger-framed women, so I get so uncomfortable when the subject of weight is brought up. Almost like I had to apologize for my metabolism being higher than others. Sigh, but it is so true that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and is all about confidence! Now, I’m just happy as long as all body parts are healthy and in working order! Thanks for the post, Julie!

    1. I understand that feeling of wanting to apologize for a higher metabolism. And when you’re skinny and the subject of weight comes up, it’s like you’re immediately an outcast from the community of women because you’re not allowed to say anything without feeling bad. I just wish we could focus on one another’s HEALTH, as you say being “happy as long as all body parts are healthy and in working order!”

  5. I have always been a size 10-12, until this year when I changed my eating habits and went to healthier eating and lost 50 pounds and now am about a size 6-8. I still see my self as a 10-12, though I know I’m not. I have no ass (I looked in the mirror). I still have my child-bearing hips but my arms and legs and face and neck are skinny. There is no denying it and even my psychiatrist remarked on my weight loss (she wanted to make sure I had bee trying to lose weight and it wasn’t from the meds). I hope I don’t lose much more. I don’t eat much and don’t feel particularly beautiful but I do feel better than I did when I weighed more. I don’t wear tight clothes (I’m Muslim) but I do feel better physically. I guess that’s what counts.

    1. I absolutely think it’s about feeling good physically. The problem with obesity is the strain it puts on your body–heart, joints, bones, etc. The problem with being severely underweight (or malnutritioned) is the strain it puts on your organs, immune system, etc. These aren’t healthy.

      But you can also be a good weight and be unhealthy. I remember being about 105 once and getting complimented by some women for my healthy body; I retorted that the last time I had climbed stairs, I was out of breath. (I soon changed that by starting to exercise.) I think more women need to listen to their bodies and know that their right size is when their bodies feel good and healthy. Thanks!

  6. I was always thin until I turned 45. This year the weight has just kind of came and stayed a bit. I’m okay with it for the most part. But I relate to this post very much. I have had relatives who said these same kinds of sentiments to me over the years. They have made me feel like I am a bad person for being a fan. Like I was hurting them by being thin. Other women have made me feel guilty about my body. But I was always healthy. I was just blessed with good genes. Now, for the first time, I am having to work my Badonkadonk. I’m actually enjoying it, if you can believe it. Great post, Julie!

    1. Ah, 45…right where I am. I’ve experienced some weight gain too, but I love my 40s, so I can’t complain. (Okay, I can…but I won’t do it here. I promise. LOL.)

      Yes, sometimes we women act like there is only so much of something in the world, so that if you’re short, someone else is hurting you by being tall…or if you’re fat, someone is hurting you by being skinny…of if you’re curly-headed, someone is hurting you by having straight hair. We’re just different. No need to feel guilty for the body God gave you! Appreciate and take care of it, I say. Thanks, Renee!

      (Hey, how do you make the accent over the e in a comment box? Anyone?)

      1. You are awesome, Julie. As for the accent, I think I need to write a post about this — it is fast becoming one of the most frequently asked questions! I’m on a Mac, so I hold down the OPTION key and press E. That gives me the accent. Then I press any other letter (usually an e) and it goes right underneath. If you are on an iPad, it’s even easier. You just hold down the e key until all these cool choices for accents come up! How’s that? 😉

      2. I just have to jump on the bandwagon and ask what the @%&! happens at age 45? That’s when I got extremely, ahem, curvy too. Great post, Julie. You’re so right — we need to stop comparing and start appreciating our differences.

    2. Well-put, Debra. My hormones are shifting in my 40s almost at the rate they did in my teens. At least that’s what I’m blaming for my, um, extra pounds to love.

  7. What a refreshing post (and I loved the comments too). I was anorexic when I was 19/20 but gained weight after being in the hospital with pneumonia where I found out I could actually eat three meals a day and weigh 114 pounds! I’ve never had another episode of being anorexic but have remained thin. I resent comments that I’m anorexic now since I am 5′ 6″ and weigh 125 pounds – perfectly normal. I don’t understand why people feel comfortable commenting about my being skinny when I would NEVER comment about their being fat.

    1. I’ve wondered that exact thing, Patti: “Why do you think you can comment on my skinny when I can’t say anything about you?” I know they think they are complimenting, but…

      (Also, I’m pleased that this post has reached out to others because I was so nervous posting it!)

  8. Here! Here! Great post! I am glad it got included. I have a friend who has extremely curly hair. She always wanted straighter hair. I told her straight wasn’t that great either except maybe in the 60’s when everyone was having to iron their to get that look.

    1. I have super-straight hair, and my best friend has incredibly curly hair. We’ve had several talks about how we used to want something different and learned to love what we have. Her hair suits her, mine suits me. Great point, Kathryn! (And totally beside the point, I love your name.)

  9. Very true. My mom is always complaining about everything you’ve mentioned. And she eats. She’s just bitty. Growing up (in Germany) her doctors prescribed Guinness to help her gain weight. Can you imagine? She’s constantly saying, “I’m over 60—I shouldn’t have to shop in the juniors section.” But I think she’s beautiful. We’re all different, we should all just strive for healthy.

    1. Thanks for sharing this about your Mom. My hubby says Guinness is one stout puts-hair-on-your-chest beer. Oh my! I can’t imagine. I’m sure she’s just lovely.

  10. Julie: I love that you offered the perspective of beauty as the “skinny girl.” To be totally honest as someone who has “battled” weight throughout my life (and still do), I envied girls like you for decades. However, now in my 40s, I understand that our perception of others and ourselves is internal. Even when I was 5’8 and 120 pounds, I viewed myself as fat. My mother is quite obese, and I recall shopping for her several years ago at the plus-size ladies store. Unfortunately, no one would wait on me as a skinny chic. When I finally approached the sales clerk for help, she asked what I was doing in the store. I was shocked. It was reverse discrimination! She bluntly told me they did not carry my size, and I should try elsewhere. I explained that I was purchasing a gift for my mother. She rolled her eyes and walked away. I was frustrated and hurt. I left feeling the sting of the “skinny girl slap.” It hurt.

    Thanks for the thoughtful and personal post.

    1. Oh my goodness! She wouldn’t wait on you? That’s appalling! What’s unreal is that women often rail against men having unrealistic standards, and then we go around and judge each other. Stop the madness, right?! Thanks for sharing your story, Kristal.

  11. I really enjoyed your post Julie! I totally relate to how you feel and I appreciate that you wrote about this. When will we stop comparing ourselves to one another? We’re all unique, not one size fits all. And I think most don’t think that thin women have problems. But it does get old hearing others talk negatively about you. I have always been thin and it is not easy to find your size when shopping. The important thing is that we need to be happy with ourself. That we are a beautiful no matter what our size. Thanks girl! “_

  12. My mom is the skinny girl. Sometimes I still wish I’d gotten her frame, but nope, I got my dad’s. I’ve always loved her slim legs and she’s always admired the muscles I was able to develop. The truth is, the grass really isn’t greener on the other side. We still tend to look outward which invites jealousy. Silliness really and that is an important thing to remember. Woman are beautiful.
    Great post, Julie.

    1. Ah, muscles. I think the big drawback of my size is that I desperately want to be able to play baseball and hit out of the infield or ace my opponent on the tennis court with a power slam. Nope, not happening with my frame. Maybe that’s why I do Zumba now instead. Might as well work with what we have! 🙂 Thanks, S.J.

  13. I had a work friend who was the skinny girl, and complained about all the things you listed. I felt self-conscious in swimwear because of my belly, she did because of her protruding collarbones. While I envied her ability to eat whatever she wanted and not show it, she also showed me the other side of the coin, and in her I saw that real beauty is in being okay with who we are, and that there’s a big difference between slender-and-fit (which my friend was), and anorexic-skinny.

    My BOAW post is a more generalized take on how we judge each other on looks: Don’t judge us by our covers!

    1. I loved your post on the Beauty of a Woman! I read a book once that said we size each other up in about three seconds. THREE seconds! Some of those overall impressions are reasonably ones that the person is trying to impress on us (like suit & tie on a lawyer), and some are way off the mark.

      Swimsuit shopping. Now there’s an activity guaranteed to make puh-lenty of women doubt their own beauty. A little more fabric, please, and we might feel more confident about the natural beauty we do indeed possess. Just sayin’.

  14. This is great Julie, I’m glad you wrote this.
    The comments are spot on, so I won’t say anything but instead just add myself as another person who thinks beauty is more about the unique character of a woman and not her physical appearance.

    You might find the post below interesting, too. It has something to do with the unrealistic and narrowly defined paradox of the high fashion super thin model of beauty vs. the “real women have curves” model —> http://www.the-beheld.com/2013/02/the-two-standards-of-beauty.html

    1. Interesting article. I don’t agree with all of it, but it got me thinking.

      Thanks, Joe! I love your statement about the “unique character of a woman” being more important.

  15. Wonderful post, Julie! I wish we could all learn to support and encourage each other without comparison. What a much better world it would be. And air-brushing should be outlawed! 😉

    1. I read an interview with a model or actress once who said that she struggled with her looks because her own magazine covers looked so much better than she did from airbrushing. She took away the sense that her thighs should be thinner, her breasts bigger, etc…and she was the ideal women readers were looking toward! Just crazy. Thanks, Rhonda!

  16. This is a really great post on a perspective most of us don’t consider. Loved this line: “The way you see your body, the way you treat your body, the way you carry your body shows that you either know you’re beautiful…or haven’t figured that out yet.”
    I have a good friend who is tiny in the way you are talking about. I’ve been shopping with her and seen her frustration with not being able to find anything to fit. She is fortunate to have the resources to have her stuff tailored. Also loved the comments about being 45! I just got there last week and it seems like, wow, what happened? 🙂

    1. A good tailor? That would be awesome. I have had a few things taken up over the years, but it does get expensive.

      As for the age thing, now we’re scaring everyone out there under 45! LOL. Thanks so much, Kecia. 🙂

  17. Thank you for offering this perspective, Julie. You know, I’ve never thought badly of “the skinny girl” – envied, maybe; aspired, maybe – but I admit I never considered the difficulties. What is very interesting is that I’ve faced many of the same difficulties, at the opposite end of the spectrum.
    -Finding a bra that fits my body but doesn’t overwhelm my B/C-cup breasts? Nearly impossible.
    -Total silence about my weight from family and friends as it ballooned. Because, you know, if you don’t talk about, then it’s not a problem.
    -I’ve ordered clothes online for years, because that’s where I could find “extended sizes” to fit my frame
    -The only comments came (come) from people who don’t know me, and they’re always derogatory
    -“Do you think you should sit on that?” (subtext: it might break)
    -Eat only a little in public, then make up for it in private
    The things we put ourselves through, and oftentimes needlessly… Fabulous post! 🙂

    1. Wow. This one really struck me: “Do you think you should sit on that?” There are about four snarky retorts that popped into my mind when I read that. Thanks for sharing your end, Ellen. I appreciate hearing all of these sides.

  18. Comparing does suck and I know I’m guilty of it. Over at my Beauty of Woman post, where I talk about the other end = the curvy gals, I completely agree (and probably would many men) that a healthy, confident woman is the most attractive.

    1. Yes, Nicole, the most attractive women I see are healthy and confident. One of the good things I’ve seen in the generation of women that came behind me is that athletics are far more a part of girls’ lives, and I think those girls who stick with a sport or dance or whatever are particularly appealing because they are taking care of their natural beauty.

  19. Amen! Comparisons suck. Except sometimes when they put what we have in perspective. I’ve never been extremely skinny but I’m fairly flat-chested. I used to envy buxom women, until I had a few as clients. They complained about:
    –boys, and sometimes grown men, making crude remarks when they looked like Mae West at age 10.
    –having painful grooves cut in their shoulders from their bra straps.
    –never being able to find blouses that fit right because their boobs were out of proportion with the rest of their bodies.
    And the one that really got me:
    –having to wear a bra to bed because otherwise their boobs were sore from lack of support when they got up in the morning.

    Ack! I hate wearing bras during the day!

    1. I had a roommate like that once, and we shared our experiences of being at opposite ends on that. I no longer envied her, and she didn’t envy me. We learned there are challenges with just about every body type. Thanks, Kassandra!

  20. Great post, Julie. I started dieting when i was 13 and well, that went on for almost forever. Not anymore, now my focus is being healthy for me. Also it’s amazing how aging can really put health and well-being into perspective!

  21. Julie you raise points that I don’t often see voiced. And they need to be. I’ll definitely give more thought to the other side of the coin. Thanks for helping me see it. 🙂

  22. Thank you for this article Julie, very encouraging. I will be 30 on Monday, i’m 5′ 1″ and 115 lbs and it has always been hard being skinny, especially since I’m black and from the Caribbean (living in America has actually been easier). But black women are supposed to be curvaceous (so they say). Sometimes i believe that i’m still single because of my size but i try not to let those negative thoughts get to me because i’m truly convinced that a beautiful woman has an exceptionally beautiful personality and I totally agree with you on the confidence factor. Confidence allows a woman to freely uplift and encourage another without being catty and envious and this in itself is beautiful. Thank you once again.

    1. Yes, there are also presumptions made about our bodies based on race/ethnicity. I’ve only recently discovered how many black women feel pressured to straighten their hair. Being almost as white as this screen, I had no idea! I think that’s just silly: A woman should be able to straighten her hair or keep it curly/kinky or whatever, but without feeling like she is less a woman for one decision over another. The same as a woman shouldn’t judge her worth simply based on size.

      Anyway…I love your attitude that an “exceptionally beautiful personality” is the key. You can hold yourself aloft with confidence that you are then beautiful inside and out. All the best, Nissa!

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