I’ve heard this a lot. Not, “You look great,” but “You’re so skinny.” It’s like a subconscious thing that people do, for whatever reason, where they notice your weight before most other things about you. I’m guilty of it too. Don’t worry. I do it all the time. And it’s my observation of this both in myself and in others that made me start thinking, how much does it really matter, and why am I noticing this about this person and myself?
I honestly don’t know how to respond when people tell me that I’m skinny. Do I say “Thank you?”
But, thanks for what? An observation was made, and that’s all. It’s not, “You look good,” which implies that I did something to myself to warrant some kind of compliment that I should be grateful for receiving. Or maybe I didn’t do anything, and I should say thank you because they’re complimenting my natural appearance. But neither of those applies to the measurement of my waist.
Not really, anyway.
What’s more, this usually happens when someone hasn’t seen me in a while. Like, I know I weighed more when I was in high school, and then I guess I naturally trimmed down. I have been exercising more as well, but it’s only about a ten-pound difference that happened over the course of four years. It’s not that big of a deal.
But here’s the thing. In the past four years, so much more has happened than ten pounds disappearing.
Here are just a few:
I had a baby.
Like, I created a human being.
Inside of my body.
And then he came out.
Like, into the world.
I also placed that baby for adoption.
I started promoting my blog.
I started writing a book.
I declared my major to be English.
I decided that I want to be an author.
My son will be celebrating his fifth birthday this year.
I also met the man I truly love and got married last August.
Speaking of which, I am also coming up on our first anniversary! (AND I’M SO FREAKING EXCITED!)
But people mostly notice that there’s some body fat gone from my hips. Now don’t get me wrong. I think complimenting people’s looks is fine. There are many attractive people in the world, and I’m flattered if you think I’m one of them. It’s not bad to think that someone looks good, and to tell them. But I think we need to get away from the idea that weight loss or gain is one of the only things worth noting about a person. What if I had gained fifteen pounds instead of losing ten? Would people then be saying as I walked away, “Oh my God, she gained so much weight!” Would people say anything at all? Would I maybe get a, “So what’s up in your life?” after the “Oh wow, I haven’t seen you in so long!” comments subsided, and have someone who’s genuinely eager to listen to what’s going on in my life because they’re not distracted by my “skinniness?” Truth be told, I don’t even think that I’m skinny. I mean, I don’t think I’m fat either, I just really don’t think I’m thin. And like I said before, I think that it’s subconscious. I don’t think that anybody is intentionally ignoring huge life events, or that they truly couldn’t care less about what else is happening in my life. At least I know that when I comment on someone’s waist-line that my intentions are not, at least consciously, superficial.
But maybe, just maybe, this says something about how we view ourselves. Maybe it says something about what we believe about bodies, and maybe it says that we don’t have the exact values that we claim to.
I recognize that body image is a struggle for many, many people. The reasons are many. Too many to count. Society, family, friends, advertisements, the list goes on.
Maybe we should start wondering who people are as people and not as numbers on a scale. What do these observations and our voicing them above others say about our belief in God? About our supposed belief that we are beautiful and valued and cherished and wonderfully made, just as we are? And how deeply ingrained are those beliefs, really?
Maybe these are questions we should be asking ourselves.