Weight has been an issue for me literally since birth. I was a whopping three pounds when my mother delivered me, small enough to fit into the palm of her hand. When I was finally released from the NICU after almost three months, my father vowed that he would fatten me up and he succeeded. Tasty dishes like cassava leaf and jollof rice from his homeland of Liberia were often prepared in our home, attributing to most of the weight I had gained as a toddler. To this day my sister often recalls that she thought I would grow up to be on the chunkier side.
As I grew older, I had begun to thin out as kids sometimes do when they get taller. It wasn’t until middle school when the comments about my weight occurred almost on regular basis. Classmates and even some faculty members would call me skinny and ask if I was anorexic. My family would playfully tease me about being small as well. As if going through puberty wasn’t bad enough, the breakouts and bleeding every month, I now had to be shamed for my weight. I remember my mother had taken me to the doctors and they had assured us both that there was nothing wrong with me. I could afford to put a little extra jelly on my toast in the morning, (the doctor’s words, not mine) is the only thing I was advised. I thought I looked fine, the doctor told me I was fine, but all everyone else saw was a bag of bones.
In high school, the teasing wasn’t as bad but it still existed. My mother was always there to reassure me that I in fact had a cute little shape and that the weight would come in due time as it did for her. Even now as an adult, I still face criticism when it comes to my weight. I’ve even inherited the nickname ‘lil bits’ from my co-workers. Just last week two of them jokingly said that they didn’t like me because I was skinny. I italicized the word ‘jokingly’ because there is a bit of truth behind every joke. Still, I always manage to laugh it off but I’ll admit it is pretty annoying constantly being the butt of someone’s ugly jokes. Saying that I want to work on my body or even announcing that I’m in the mood for a certain food warrants side eye stares and comments that you wouldn’t believe. I’m doomed either way. And no, I’m not crying over being skinny. I know we live in a society that has not been very accepting to nor accommodating of persons of a bigger size, which is wrong on so many levels. But just as it’s wrong to comment on someone’s weight for being bigger, it’s wrong to do so to a person who’s thin. No matter how you look at it, it’s still body shaming!
It’s not helpful when there are so many misconceptions about being thin to begin with. First off, we need to stop assuming that being skinny means healthy. In fact, there are many health conditions which cause people to lose weight, like Hyperthyroidism. Stop saying that a person is on drugs just because they are thin. Don’t tell a skinny person they need to eat a cheese steak (sorry, I’m from Philly), rice and beans or collard greens, although they are yummy. All skinny people are NOT evil. Side eye to Mo’Nique. Still love you girl. And please, stop comparing skinny people to poles, sticks or any other object that is straight up and down. In my Bryson Tiller voice, Don’t. Most of all, love yourself!
My size has never stopped me from accomplishing anything in my life that I set out to do. I’ve worked different jobs that have required me to lift heavy items and have done so with no problems. I’ve always excelled in school and I’ve never had a problem getting (or keeping) a man. I love the person I see when I look in the mirror. I love the way my body looks and the way my clothes fit. God made me just fine! Instead of being so caught up on the exterior, what we really should be doing is focusing more on what’s on the inside anyway.
Have you struggled with body image?
The College Grad