I was always the skinny girl. Not the long, lithe, willowy model skinny girl, but the gawkishly thin, angular, hollow-eyed skinny girl. A skinny girl in school who looked like an X-ray…….with knobby knees, tiny bones, all feet and nose and elbows and spine. The one whose go-go boots slapped the back of her calves like a bell when she walked instead of fitting snuggly like everyone else’s. The one who looked like a malnourished poster child, but wearing contemporary clothes. The Olive Oyl, the Twiggy, the Toothpick. All legs and ribs and a late bloomer. That was me.
Despite what some might have speculated behind my back, I did not have an eating disorder. There was no anorexia or bulimia happening here. I ate what I wanted, whenever I wanted, and I ate plenty of it. My metabolism just was not conducive to putting on significant weight. Those were my genes. It was a very self-deprecating, hard road.
You would be surprised how callous and clueless people can be when they make disparaging comments aimed at very thin people. Just as it is considered incredibly rude and unkind for someone to mock a heavy person, it always seemed to be rather remarkable that many people – and often those who are considered “overweight” and have experienced pain over being called “fat” (or worse) – have no qualms about making cruel, hurtful, or insensitive comments about someone thinner than “average”. Ironically, it is just as difficult for someone who is extraordinarily thin and conscious of it to reveal themselves at the beach in a bathing suit as it is for someone heavy. I never understood why some people didn’t get that.
Even after I started to level out a bit after being That Skinny Girl in primary and secondary school, I remained “underweight” for most of my adult life, never weighing in enough to meet the minimum weight to donate blood, never quite pulling off whatever look was in fashion – tight pants would hang off me, my knees would stick out, the butt would droop, there was nothing to fill the blouse. If the waist was small enough to fit, the length was ridiculously short. There were no curves. Nothing quite fit. The snarky comments continued. By this time I had no compass regarding my own body image.
But meanwhile, I continued to thoroughly enjoy eating whatever I wanted, and with gusto. Never gave it a second thought, beyond actually trying to eat more fattening food to bulk up. Watching calories just wasn’t on the radar screen. There have never been any qualms about binging on a pint of Haagen Daaz, a bag of tortilla chips or a box of nonpareils. There was never any concern about having the second helping. Or the third. Or two desserts. Or four. Weight just did not stick to me. This persisted well into my late forties, when I finally hit a size that would probably be considered “average” for my height and frame. For the first time in my life, I felt that I physically fell somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. I laughed to myself that here I was, in my forties, and had finally arrived. And yet, with the compass broken I could not accept a compliment as genuine.
Well, “average” did not last very long at all. Must be those damn hormones, because something changed and the pounds have decided to stick. And because I have been “spoiled” all my life in respect to what I fuel myself with…..because I have really had no concept of awareness, no discipline or control regarding food….. I have been at a total loss to stop it from happening. I am hungry all the time. And I eat all the time. The word graze, or rather browse (I prefer to think deer, versus cow), is exactly what I do. According to my doctor, I have just crossed that little line on the chart – past “Underweight”, right on through the “Healthy Weight” shaded area and into the “Overweight” balcony section. Bam! The Skinny Girl has crossed into the zone. And she is not prepared. I weigh more than I did in my ninth month of pregnancy. The pounds are mostly in the middle. As my arms and legs are long, I am starting to take on the build of a spider. I have incrementally managed to artfully camouflage the rolls for quite a while, but cannot anymore (see Speechless). I have no control. I am a serious foodie. I dream in chocolate. I cannot believe it, as I am The Skinny Girl!
On the way home from work yesterday I took the plunge and joined Weight Watchers. I pulled off the highway at the very last minute and I did it. I realize I need to be held accountable and I can’t hold myself to it. After the meeting, I came home clutching a bag with my little point calculator and booklets…….when I walked in the door, the Significant Other gave me what I imagined was almost a wicked smile before immediately opening a large bag of blue corn tortilla chips and a container of salsa….. and began to indulge right there standing in the kitchen. I didn’t even have one minute of respite before the temptation began. Demon.
All day today I counted points and followed the diet religiously – Day One.
I am starving.