I have been skinny my whole life. I wasn’t even a super chunky baby or child. Growing up, and still to this day, people question if I eat or even if I have an eating disorder. Going to a (West Indian or African) friends house, I always get the passive ask/tell, “Are you hungry?” from their parents. If I say no, they ask again as if to say, “I am not asking you, take this food and eat it” and if I do say yes, I feel like I am being watched to make sure that I actually put the food in my mouth and swallow it.
I have always had a fast metabolism and I have always loved food. I can out eat most grown men if you ask me. My family used to call me a garbage disposal/vacuum cleaner because I would scarf down a plate of food extremely fast and still want seconds. Weight has never really stuck on me. In fact, when I get stressed out, I lose weight very easily. I am 5’5″ and the most I have ever weighed was 135lbs and right now I am coasting around 120lbs (probably less by now).
As I said, I always had a small frame. I was the “maaga” (Jamaican patois for meager) child. From church ladies to my elders….they never let me forget. I didn’t think it was a “thing” per say. The first time when I was actually conscious about my body was when puberty hit. I started budding breasts and my mom made a big deal out of it. I was never the one to be excited when my breasts came in, I just knew I would have them and that was that. My mom would occasionally check my budding breasts in excitement of my new changes & would tell me that I was becoming a woman. I could care less, but it made me very conscious of it. Come to think about it, I think at the tender age of 12 , I stopped wearing fitted shirts so that I would not draw any attention to my chest. To this day I wear loose-fitting shirts or black tops if I decided to put on something more form fitting. I also wished that I had a longer torso/midsection. I felt as if my breasts took up most of my mid-section and it make me look weird (short torso, long legs, broad shoulders, no hips, small behind…weird combo if you ask me). If I had a longer torso, it wouldn’t be so bad. I would wear push up bras in efforts to expose more of my midsection. I hated those things because it would make my breasts look bigger, so most of the time I would resort to wearing two sports bras to flatten my chest.
The next incident that made me extremely body conscious was that I started getting stretch marks on my hips and butt. I did not know what was happening at all. This was literally not written anywhere in the puberty books my mother got for me and no one told me that this might happen. I felt as though God was mutilating my body. They kept popping up everywhere and they couldn’t be stopped. I tried everything. Shea butter, cocoa butter, Mederma, Bio Oil…nothing stopped those bastard stripes. Imagine a super skinny child at the age of 12 having stretch marks on her butt and hips. As the years went on, I started noticing them on my breasts, knees, the back of my arm near my armpits….I literally thought they would spread al over my body like leprosy. I don’t think anyone understands how freaked out I was by this. I stopped wearing regular bikinis in the summertime. I would get shorts & even have a cover up on top of that. I hoped and prayed no one would look at my stretch marks if I decided to wear a tank top or shorts. I was so embarrassed by them.
Following that, I remember was probably around the age of 15. I had on a sports bra & I was walking down the stairs. My mom was walking up the stairs & she grabbed whatever “fat” was on my stomach & said something like “You gotta lose that pudge.” Instant “OMG Im fat” moment. I remember I scoured through every teen magazine I could find, started doing the workouts that they recommended; lifting small weights in my room & such to make sure I didn’t get fat. Also, people in my family scared me because they would always say things like, “You won’t stay that way forever, enjoy your size while you can” “You can eat like that now, but you have to be careful when you get older” or “Wait until your metabolism slows down, that weight is going to catch up to you.”. [As I am writing this, I am realizing that these are really not healthy things to say to a child going through puberty & trying to figure out who they are in general.] All of this went to my head, terrified me, & put it a fear in my heart of “blowing up” & becoming obese. Still, to this day, I do have a fear of becoming obesely fat or gaining significant amount of weight. It is something that I have to deprogram from my brain as it was engrained & hammered in for years.
As the people around me were changing with puberty, I noticed that most of the other girls were not just getting breasts, but hips and a bottom as well too. In my head, the “perfect shape” was the hourglass. I don’t know where I got this notion from, but it has been the defining image in my head (I will admit, even until this very moment). A woman with a full B cup, a nice waist, flat and long stomach, a well proportioned bottom, and some hips! I always felt like I was a broad shouldered plank with a pair of breasts. I wanted some hips. I wanted some ass. To this day, I marvel at women with nice supple bottoms & decent hips (not the fake oversized things). When I would work out in my puberty days, I wouldn’t work out my butt because I thought that it would make my butt smaller than it already was. I would stay away from too much cardio because I didn’t want to burn off any fat down there. I didn’t want to lift weights because all of the guys at school grimaced at the thought of a muscle butt.
As I got older and would voice my bodily concerns to friends, even lovers, people would look at me like I was crazy, especially if I ever uttered the words “I need to lose weight here” or “I feel fat”. I dressed myself in a way that accentuated or hid what I wanted. I remember changing in front of a girlfriend one day & she looked at my breasts & said “Where the heck did those come from??” in complete astonishment. It was kind of funny because I hid my then small D cup so well (my breasts have gotten smaller since I moved to Georgia…I have gotten smaller since I moved). I really believe I had Body Dysmorphic Disorder because I really thought I was bigger than I was &/or clearly not seeing what everyone else saw.
Fast forward to today I still look in the mirror and envision having a more defined waist, a longer torso, cute little perky breasts, a slightly bigger butt, wider hips…an overall better shape in my eyes. Do not get me wrong, I appreciate my body for all that it has done for me, but at the same time I am not 100% completely satisfied with this vessel I was given. When I take pictures or get a picture taken of myself, I grimace and often times harshly critique myself. No matter how much a lover says he likes my butt & the fact that he can grab it and hold on to it or how much he loves my breasts, something still isn’t clicking for me. I am sure I will get there sooner than later (because I definitely want to get in the gym), but right now I am proud of myself for even showing my stretch marks or putting my body out there in general. (So for the people who were slut-shaming me for taking and posting nude art, leave me alone because I finally got to the point where I was okay with that.) It is an interesting thing, you know, learning to love yourself. Knowing that you have a beautiful mind and spirit, but not wrapping your head around the fact that your body is beautiful. Learning how you can actually come to love the shape you have & the assets that you were not born with. It is overwhelming, thinking about it; having to deal with mental health and then working on your outlook towards your physical body.
It bothers me so much when people think that just because I am slim, I don’t have, or even shouldn’t have, body issues. Only bigger people should have body issues. First of all, that is just rude towards both ends of the spectrum and second of all, to invalidate a whole group of people just because they “technically” fit in societal standards is highly offensive. One can have body issues no matter what the number on the scale reads or what size jeans they can fit in.
Also, if you do not identify with skinny, slim, slender, petite, etc, please do not constantly bring up the fact that I am skinny, slim, or slender. I am well aware & I personally know women who are conscious about how skinny they are. It doesn’t make us feel good to constantly have people comment that we have a little butt, that our legs are so skinny, or that we “have no fat to complain about”. It makes us more self-conscious about ourselves and it does not feel good.
So yes, I am working on it, but please know that us skinny girls are not “perfect”, we have body issues too.