Monday, October 29, 2012

#bekind #hardbattle

To the best of my knowledge, the hashtag #skinnygirlproblems is right up there with #firstworldproblems, as many people tend to feel those are pretty much #notrealproblems. And it's true -- no one wants to listen to a girl complain about being skinny, or having too much money, or what have you. And that's why this post has been weeks, nay, 18 years in the draft stages.

Every fall, without fail, I am faced with the fact that I will be cold, and that someone will inevitably say: "Well you wouldn't be so cold if you put on some fat." It happens on a weekly basis for a good two months every year, with comments coming from strangers, professors, colleagues, sometimes even family. And every time, I offer a measely "shut up" and every time, I fester on the comment for hours, thinking of the retorts I should have said (Foiling them with science: "Actually, muscle mass would be a better means of providing heat," with witty word play: "Being cold is a sacrifice I make to look this hot," or with equal rudeness: "can I borrow some of yours" -- but don't worry, I'd never say that one!!). And I vow that next time, I will take more of a stand.

But the next time comes, and I find I shrink inside myself. I'm not a 28 year old, successful, educated, confident female. I'm back to being the 10 year old girl in the grade 4 hallway after everyone has has left. I still hear from behind me the taunts of a boy lingering after a missed bus. "You're so scrawny! You're like a twig! It's creepy! It's UGLY. YOU'RE UGLY." Sometimes, if the "put on some fat" comment happens a little more frequently, or on a day when I've been beating myself up for something else, I merge that memory with another involving the same pipsqueak "You sound like Kermit the Frog! It's so annoying! I bet you can't even stand to hear yourself think!" I still want to run home, as I did that day, and hide under my blankets crying, too afraid to tell my parents what had happened, not wanting to have to explain it and relive it all again.

So while the professors, colleagues, friends and family may have the best of intentions, not believing their comment will cause any harm, it scrapes the scab off of old wounds, and they become indistinguishable from my childhood tormentor. My #skinnygirlproblem goes from the realm of #notrealproblem to the dark realms of a damaged psyche.

And all with an off the cuff, likely well intentioned comment.

But I also know that next time, I won't slice into them with my razor sharp tongue, even if it is sharpened by wit or logic. Not only do I know my demons won't magically stop taunting me from within, but also that everyone carries their own demons in them. Their comments could be just as much about their problems as my own. But I will hope that for every time someone, out of ignorance, sends me shame spiraling into my past, it will remind me to be careful I am not doing the same to someone else


  1. I can totally relate to this. People don't realize that making comments about your weight, whether it's skinny or fat jokes, it's not nice! I am always freezing and it never fails that I get the same comment about putting some meat on my bones. Heather

  2. I guess some people don't really understand that people are just built the way that they are. If you and I swapped lives we still wouldn't look like each other. And that's ok, in fact, that's wonderful that beauty comes in every shape and size. The pains of childhood can hold so much even though in every other way we've outgrown them. You are lovely. If you're cold (and who wouldn't be in a Canadian winter) maybe someone could give you a gift of a home made knitted scarf instead of a scathing comment??

  3. I totally get where you're coming from. I always carry my ID even if I don't really need it because I still hear the taunts of "the kindergarten hall is over there" when I was in 6th grade. People are cruel. Especially when somebody else has something they don't have. I've had people hold up toddler clothes or kids clothes saying I could fit in them, and yes the same "put on some fat" comments during winter. I glare at the phrase "real women".

    I've also had those same malicious, sarcastic, and self-hating thoughts that you have. Don't let people get you down. Always know that there are people who will commiserate, without bringing down others in the process. I think you're gorgeous Cara! Just the way you are.

    And yes, I don't know how you survive Canadian winters, and it has nothing to do with your weight. It's just freaking cold out there!

  4. Some people are idiots. One should never, ever comment about another person's weight. This past summer, I was asked by a cashier if I was pregnant (another big no-no). I'm not pregnant, and I'm very sensitive about my weight gain. The remark had me crying in the parking lot.

    I feel bad that you have to deal with insensitive people every time it gets cold. :(

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  6. It's hard, but you have to develop a thick skin. I had former co-workers call me "Minus Zero" for years, not in a nice way. Lately weight just won't stay on, and I don't need others to tell me I'm a bit on the skinny side and to eat a sandwich. If only it were that easy.

  7. Amen! For some reason people think it's ok to say someone's too skinny but I've never heard someone say they're too fat to their face so it's a double standard! So rude and I can't stand it, someone's body is no one's business but their own and words cut deeper than swords. Stay strong Cara and know that we all think you're beautiful, just the way you are.


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